BoatCrewGear.com was started in 2013 by Andrew Hawkins as a way to fill a gap in the sailing gear market. What started as a simple website with a couple of brands has evolved into a business that 'pops-up' at sailing events and regattas. Their range of products includes everything from dinghy gear to ocean racing and safety essentials. We spoke to Andrew Hawkins about the company and what is on the horizon.
How has BoatCrewGear.com evolved over the years?
BoatCrewGear.com started in 2013 when I was working in the marine industry and an avid sailor. I saw through my own experience and that of my friends that the wider sailing gear market was not being adequately serviced. After considerable research and preparation, BoatCrewGear.com was born. We started with a website and a couple of brands, but from the outset made our website easy to use and customer service our priority. Too many online businesses try to keep a distance from their customer, we engage with them and are always happy to be contacted by email, phone, social media... A lot of customers new to sailing don't actually know what they need, so we are always there to help.
Now, along with a recently relaunched responsive website, we have a kitted out trailer which we use to run popup shops at regattas to bring our unique service directly to the customer. We also have a 'click and collect' service for our local customers and a showroom which they can visit, especially those with young sailors where sizing is important. For customers in other parts of Australia, we make it a priority to be available to discuss what they want whenever it suits them, and get their order to them as quickly as possible.
How have the trends in sailing gear changed throughout your time in the industry?
Very definite changes. The gear the wider sailing market use these days is quicker than ever to benefit from testing in events such as the VOR, the AC, and the Olympics. A lot of boats available to the current generation of racing sailors are quicker and require more technical gear, whilst the more popular and established classes, and the massive cruising market, see obvious flow on benefits from the big events. Gear is becoming lighter, more reliable, and the range selection is a lot larger due to technology making more things possible.
What is the most popular item for a dinghy sailor at the moment and why?
More and more dinghy sailors are buying helmets. Less cynicism and more appreciation of the safety aspect. Low profile PFDs are also very popular.
What is the most popular item for an offshore sailor at the moment and why?
Sold quite a few of the same helmets to the sailors on the bow for Hobart! The range choice available in Australia and technological improvements on jackets/smock and pants for offshore sailors has gotten a lot better. As mentioned, the cruising market is reaping these benefits.
As someone that works with a range of brands and products, what is the most important item every sailor should have on them?
Quality gear that is designed for sailing. Whether it be a UV top, a wetsuit, or a life jacket, you never want to be out on the water thinking, I wish I had...
What gear would you recommend for a racing team uniform and why?
Long sleeve UV quick dry tops with collars. I can never work out why you would buy short sleeve. Brand is up to you, but you will find you 'get what you pay for'. A lot of crew sets I sell are for a long sleeve UV top for the sailing, and a short sleeve polo for the bar after a long hot shower.
Your company does more than just clothing, why the addition of safety gear to the range?
Safety gear is an essential item for every sailor. A lot of sailors like to, or are obliged to, have their own safety kit so we make it easy for them. We also carry a certain range of boat safety gear as that is what our customers want. They want the convenience of buying it from us and we are here to service our customers.
What can we look forward to from BoatCrewGear.com in 2017?
Lots of exciting things are on the schedule for 2017! We will always concentrate on our strengths. Good range, quality product, up to date product knowledge, excellent customer service, great specials. Our goal is to get more feedback like this from a customer in QLD: "Fantastic customer service, you have made my day and it had only just started!" ✵