Why are skis so expensive in the US?

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3 years 10 months ago #32255 by owenfromwales
MCImes,

Interesting thoughts and I think you'll find your "Hyundai" is already out there, in the form of the lifesaving spec ski. They are a bit shorter than what you're suggesting, but they're built for taking a hammering in the surf and are therefore very strong with a long life-expectancy. My son is learning on one of my old speccies. It was made around 1992 and has done thousands of miles (it's had so much use [used to be a club ski] that the footwells have worn through once!) The point being, they are cheap 2nd hand, go on forever - unless you're actively trying to snap it!, are easier to remount, and depending on where you live, can be easier to find than a cheap regular ocean ski. I have another spec on on the rack too - It's a c.1983 Pratt Ski from Aus and that is also still going strong :-)

Back to the main thread though - my paddling matey here in Okinwa, Japan just ordered a new Fenn Elite S. With delivery it came to about US$3,500 or a little bit more (I think it was the hybrid).

189cm 90~100kg
Present skis:
2017 Stellar SEI 2G
1993 Gaisford Spec Ski
1980s Pratt Spec Ski
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor
Previous
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor X 3
1987 Kevlar Chalupsky (Hummel) (Welsh copy!)
1988 Kevlar Double Chalupsky
1992 Hammerhead spec
2000 Fenn copy

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3 years 10 months ago #32259 by Sam_Atlas
What also escapes me is the price difference between some brands, like Think or Epic, and the South African skis.

Have manufacturers thought of using drop shipping logistics to lower costs? I mean, it would be so nice to order a Fenn online and and have it shipped in a cardboard tube.

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3 years 10 months ago #32261 by Bitemekaos
Getting the newest, fastest or trendiest ski is great and I have fallen in to that category myself in the past. The one constant I have had over the time I have swapped and changed ski's trying to get faster or more comfortable is that the good local unsponsored paddlers who I have always looked up to have rarely changed their ski's or paddle. There are plenty of affordable second hand boats out there for sale for great prices and like testing new ski's testing older ones can have the same reward of finding what suits you for a more affordable price. There is no better feeling than racing and beating people with all the new gear in your beat up old boat and having money in your pocket to buy beers on the way home to celebrate.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Fath2o

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3 years 10 months ago - 3 years 10 months ago #32265 by MCImes
@Owen - Unfortunately spec skis like you mention are practically non-existent in the US. I have seen only a couple for sale in 5+ years of watching for skis on the used market and they were not cheap, so at least in the US, that is not an option.

@Sam - I like the idea of an oversized cardboard tube and drop shipping! The UPS man would hate us. lol. The logistics of transporting a 17-22' tube may be difficult, but I like the idea.

@BiteMe - I religiously search for used boats and have never owned a new boat (due to cost and available funds, though I certainly would like to). I tend to hang on to boats quite a while, so Im not looking to get the latest and greatest, just a boat that suits my current needs (i.e. surfs better than the tank that is the SR g1, which I have decided could not surf a tsunami).

The used boat market in the US is not very strong - certainly nothing like SA or AU. for example, I am in the greater Los Angeles area (with over 18 Million people within a 3 hour drive) I see 7 skis on craigslist. 6 of them are from the local Epic dealer which are listed a couple hundred under retail and 1 swordfish for $1200. The $1200 is q very reasonable price, but its too skinny for what I want. Even if I extend my search to the entire west coast, the average cost of a used ski is $2000, which isnt bad, but is not a good deal by my standards. This is in the 2nd largest metro area in the US with plenty of wealthy people and the used market still sucks.

I am more patient than this post makes me sound though. Sometimes it takes a year or more of religious searching, but the right boat at the right price eventually comes along.

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"
Last edit: 3 years 10 months ago by MCImes.

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3 years 10 months ago #32267 by Bitemekaos
In that case we should send you over containers full of of second hand ski's to help out. We have the opposite problem here in that if you have an older ski it is very hard to sell if there have been a couple of of newer models introduced.

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3 years 10 months ago #32268 by MCImes
Now there's an idea I can get behind. You'll get more than market value for your used boats and we'll get below market price! This is a win win :)

Now who can arrange a group buy of used skis :)

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

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3 years 10 months ago #32269 by manta
I am surprised none of you have thought about the South African currency as a factor.

Our currency is very weak, right now it will cost me R13.40 to buy only one dollar. Our currency used to be R7 to the dollar do the math on what that boat will then cost you.

For me who earns Rands a top ski is almost a whole months salary for most people. Which makes it expensive no matter where you live. I am not sure what average monthly salaries are in the US but that would perhaps be a better comparison.

If for arguments sake we win on the ski front, we lose pretty much everywhere else. If anything needs to be imported our weak currency makes it horribly expensive.

Long story short, count your blessings have a strong vibrant economy with a strong currency.

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3 years 10 months ago #32272 by zachhandler
Exchange rate is definitely part of the explanation. The weak Rand should make South African exports more competitive abroad, but should also make it harder for Safas to buy imported skis. And yes, any of us who have the time and money to participate in an expensive leisure activity should consider ourselves very fortunate.

Current Skis: Kai Wa’a Vega, Nelo 550L g2, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X

Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

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3 years 10 months ago - 3 years 10 months ago #32273 by Impala

manta wrote: I am surprised none of you have thought about the South African currency as a factor.
Our currency is very weak, right now it will cost me R13.40 to buy only one dollar. Our currency used to be R7 to the dollar do the math on what that boat will then cost you.


Thanks for the useful hint. To our US buddies, you may use this chart for your next negotations with your dealer :P
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Last edit: 3 years 10 months ago by Impala.

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3 years 10 months ago - 3 years 10 months ago #32274 by Fath2o
Marcus, here's a ski that might work for you. I know storage is a problem at 20'. At least it is light. This wouldn't be my first choice, but, not a bad ski. Unfortunately about a days drive round trip.


goldcountry.craigslist.org/boa/d/surfski...ltra/6619036717.html

Nice deep elliptical surf rudder too!
Last edit: 3 years 10 months ago by Fath2o.

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3 years 10 months ago - 3 years 10 months ago #32275 by Sam_Atlas

manta wrote: I am surprised none of you have thought about the South African currency as a factor.

Our currency is very weak, right now it will cost me R13.40 to buy only one dollar. Our currency used to be R7 to the dollar do the math on what that boat will then cost you.


Nevertheless, the wholesale price of the ski should remain comparable regardless of where you are. That is, if surfskis have a wholesale price of, say, R15,000 (€1000) in South Africa, the export price to a dealer in Australia shouldn't be radically different.

If anything, South Africa has a considerable competitive advantage in the surfski market for a number of reasons, such as expertise, units produced, labour costs and, yes, currency devaluation. Why these savings aren't passed on to the consumer eludes me.
Last edit: 3 years 10 months ago by Sam_Atlas.

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3 years 10 months ago #32276 by Impala

Sam_Atlas wrote: Nevertheless, the wholesale price of the ski should remain comparable regardless of where you are. That is, if surfskis have a wholesale price of, say, R15,000 (€1000) in South Africa, the export price to a dealer in Australia shouldn't be radically different.


Look at the currency graph I posted above. If the Rand devalues (more R per USD), this makes ZA stuff more competitive internationally. Everything else equal and abstracting from transport and distribution costs outside ZA, their Surfskis should have become half as expensive between 2013 and 2016 in the US. Of course this melts away somewhat if shipping and distribution is added, but if we assume that the latter make up 50% of the sales price, skis should have become 25% cheaper due to devaluation.

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3 years 10 months ago #32277 by Sam_Atlas
Yes, and we don't see those savings.

BTW, I meant 'comparative advantage' above, not "competitive advantage". :blink:

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3 years 10 months ago - 3 years 10 months ago #32278 by MCImes
More interesting points...

@Sam and @Impala: your points get to the crux of my question. I work for an international business so I understand that you have to do currency conversion planning rather conservatively so you dont have frequent price changes and potential negative margin if the value changes quickly, but exactly to your point - if the wholesale price is 15k Rand / $1000us, and has been there for ~2 years, how do I end up with a $3700 hybrid layup fenn in California? Also, I assume the dealer pays for the container of boats either at time of order or something like Net 30/60/90 terms. That means they have a pretty good idea of what their actual cost (including currency conversion) will be at the time of order so you dont need to hedge as strongly as if you were on a 6 month payment timeline.

The math doesn't add up without accounting for the "that's what people will pay" argument.
I would argue that most people wont pay the median price of a new ski, which is why there are so few skis sold in the US. What's our market size? A few hundred boats a year (tops)? To your point Sam, SA should be exporting cheap skis like crazy! they could corner the market during this time of weak currency and gain a lot of market share against competitors who cant or wont follow suit. I must be missing a piece of this puzzle.

Kirk, thanks for the V10s link, but I am going to hold out for a Non-Epic/Stellar ski (and almost certainly a Fenn). After feeling how naturally your XT surfs, I have 0 interest in a flat keel boat like the old epic's.

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"
Last edit: 3 years 10 months ago by MCImes.

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3 years 10 months ago - 3 years 10 months ago #32279 by Fath2o
A little off topic here, but, Marcus if you can deal with a 20' ski, the Huki S1-R is (I dare say) one the best performing downwind boats made.
Unfortunately a used one listed below is more than a new Fenn. IMO better quality though. They do occasionally come up on Craigslist. Of course 2nd gen always nicer than first. The recessed handles are a real treat too.

www.huki.com/index.php?page=Surfski_Bargains

Found beautiful S1-XL for good price. Only problem is I would have to hide it from the wife and have three skis in garage already. :(
Last edit: 3 years 10 months ago by Fath2o.

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3 years 10 months ago #32280 by MCImes
I appreciate you looking out for me kirk. I've got <$2000 to work with for my next boat. (thus my gripe with the standard industry prices!).

I've never paddled a Huki but would be interested to try one. The S1-R is skinnier than I think I want, but I'd like to test paddle to see how she feels. I'd be nice to find one in the area to try out. I've completely overlooked Huki due to their cost, even used.

I think I could deal with 20'. It would force me to load the boat in the garage a little diagonal but I could make it work if I found the 'perfect boat' that happened to be 20'.

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

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