View Full Version : Saaremaa Small Ship Builders Confident in Rebound

11-22-2010, 07:05 PM
Saaremaa Small Ship Builders Confident in Rebound (http://news.err.ee/Economy/2ab066f1-26d8-4931-960e-9e985f8a8433)

Saaremaa’s ship builders say they have survived the recession and are hoping sales will nearly double next year.

About 10 companies on the country’s largest island make the majority of the nation’s yachts and other small ships.

The Saare41, a 40-foot sailing yacht made by Saare Paat, is currently the only Estonian-owned trademark among them. Six of them have been produced in the last two years.

Leif Nordval, captain of a Saare41, says, “I’m delighted with the boat. Compared to high-quality Swedish boats, this is much better. The interior is better planned for families like mine.”

So far an overwhelming majority of Estonian-made yachts have naturally found their way to foreign buyers such as Nordval, but the Kuressaare Maritime Festival, held in the island’s capital over the weekend, helped cement the image of the Estonian-built luxury yacht into the minds of locals.

Peeter Sääsk, CEO of Saare Paat, says the future is bright for the Saare41.

“A trademark holder has better chances of earning revenue, and that is why we are going that route, but anything that is new requires a great amount of marketing. We’re not getting rich yet, but maybe that day will come.”

Last year, Saaremaa’s small ship manufacturers had sales of 19 million euros, 95 percent of this amount was sold to foreign markets.

On the whole, Estonian small shipbuilders are not doing well, but Saaremaa is an exception. By 2011 their target revenue figure is 35 million euros.

Almost as soon as the latest Saare41 had made its maiden voyage, a new craft was launched: a brand-new 60-footer aluminum-hull vessel made for sailing in extreme conditions, also sold to Swedes.

“Estonians like buying used yachts,” says Anni Hartikainen, a project manager and small ship engineering consultant. “They are imported from Finland and Sweden. I think this will change in years to come, and I think it will be great if it does.”

Local companies on the island make fishing vessels, luxury yachts, cabin cruisers, wooden ships and rowboats.