between SEARAY and AZIMUT, BluePoint Yachting juggles
actively to subside to the fantasies of passionate
It is in the
elegance and warmth of his office in Dbayeh, that
BatoAutoMoto had the pleasure to meet Mr. Firas Khalife, G.M
BluePoint Yachting Lebanon. Totally transported to the sea
world with Mr. Khalife, we had the impression of sailing
among the valuable as well as variable information we were
offered. From the sober “allure” of high quality American
SEARAY boats to the more fashionable “avant-garde” design of
Italian Azimut boats, Mr. Khalife passionately conversed
with BatoAutoMoto and here is what he had to share.
your company established in Lebanon?
BluePoint Yachting is a Cypriot-Lebanese company. In Cyprus,
the main partners in the company have been operating for
twenty years now. BluePoint started operating in Lebanon a
year and a half ago.
are your showrooms located?
is right here in Dbaye and we are establishing a new
showroom located near the office which will be operating in
three or four week’s time. The showroom will exhibit small
size, new as well as used boats whereas bigger boats could
be seen directly in the water.
love of boats bring you to the business or did the business
bring you to the boats?
the love of boats and the sea got me here. I came back to
Lebanon from London in 2001 where I spent twenty two years.
I purchased a boat which got me into boating. So it all
started out as a hobby then it became a passion which grew
out to be a business. I have to say that my educational
background in business administration made an adequate melt
with my passion for boats in business management.
you introduce SEARAY and what models does it offer to boat
the #1 boat builder in America from quality as well as sales
point of view. Searay offers meticulously fabricated
excellent quality boats which are not more expensive than
similar manufacturers in the states. I have to say that in
Lebanon, we have had no warranty issues with Searay boats
sold so far which reflects the high quality of
fun, solid and innovative boats offering a big variety of
models ranging from 6m to 20m. They don’t manufacture bigger
say that the homeland producer naturally has the biggest
share of sales of Searay boats in the world?
Up to few
years ago, America contributed for 70% of the sales in the
world and the 30% left were covered by the rest of the
importing countries. This is no longer true today. Several
sale points can be found in Europe. There are hubs in
Holland for distribution and after sales for the rest of the
Searay boats exclusively manufactured in America?
Searay is starting to establish European factories. We can
find one in Poland now which offers the same high quality
manufacturing as in America. and they manufacture
talk of any technical or mechanical innovation for Searays?
are optionally equipped with two systems: ZEUS and AXIUS.
These two systems are found on petrol as well as diesel
models and allow you to control the boat with a joystick.
You have the feeling of playing a kid’s game. It’s a full
proof way to drive the boat and park it easily. We say “even
your grandmother can drive this boat”. This is an optional
availability on the boat but it does make boating life much
easier. In addition, Searays have smartcraft technology,
which is a computer that gives full computerized readout
from the engines and all the mechanics. The new generation
functions are all touch screen. You can find a hydraulic
platform at the back of the boat. And the driver enjoys an
air-conditioned cockpit even in an open space.
about Azimut boats? How can you introduce them?
Italian made boats with an “avant –garde”design. Italian in
nature, Azimut boats are passionately nicely designed. You
can notice the warm Burgundy color in lots of its models.
Azimut manufactures big boats and they have been leaders in
terms of their length. Azimut boats range from a 12m (flybridge)
up to 40m.
Azimut offer any Innovation in any aspect?
As I said
the innovation in Azimut is fashion married to technology.
example is the 72S with its sporty flybridge and Starship
like command center.
frequent do we see new models born for Azimut? What is the
latest? And what can we wait for?
In 2009 and
2010 Azimut brought out 8 new models with new technologies.
In 2009, they have started a brand new model called
“Magellan”. It is a new concept for Azimut. It is a semi
-displacement boat. It can go for slow or high speed. They
created this model for the purpose of fuel economy and long
range. Most of pleasure boats have a range of 300-350 miles;
semi-displacement boats have a range of 1100 miles. The
Magellano is luxurious and expeditor in character.
As to what
is coming, we can expect the largest in the Grande fleet, a
brand new 126 ft trideck for Azimut to be operational in
explain to us what is Benetti and how does it relate to
Azimut-Benetti is one company owned by Azimut. It
manufactures custom-made mega yachts. The customer has the
chance to go to the factory and choose in person all the
variables of the design (walls, rooms…..colors…. etc.).
Benetti boats range from 30m up to 80 or 90 m. In their
conception, the sky is the limit.
Azimut models available on the Lebanese Market? And how do
you see the potential of Lebanon with regards to Azimut boat
model can be purchased in Lebanon. As to the sales in
Lebanon I can tell you that I have been following the Azimut
brand for five years now and I cannot see anything but a
rapidly growing market.
company’s orientation is titled “SUPPORT WITHOUT LIMIT”. How
is this slogan translated practically on the field?
BluePoint Yachting like to be involved first-hand with any
problem that might occur. We do have our after sales teams
which make sure to support the client in every possible way
but to push things forward most of the times the dealer in
person goes to the boat to assess the problem and offer the
quickest most efficient solution. We give full support in
Lebanon as well as in Cyprus where we have a considerable
set-up. In some cases the team comes from Cyprus for
maintenance, all this to say that BluePoint Yachting is
trying to keep a high standard of service.
offer support and services for clients while boating abroad?
Yes, we have
dealers in several countries and we cooperate to offer the
client the best after sales support possible.
plans for the future?
I would like
to say that BluePoint Yachting is starting to encourage
sailing. In a few years with the energy crisis, more people
will be looking for alternative fuels or cheaper ways of
transportation. The alternative would be a sailing boat with
which you can tour the world for free. At the moment in
Europe, there is a higher percentage (60-70%) of sailing
boats sold. In Lebanon the idea is still low (15%) despite
the availability of wind on the Mediterranean Sea. A sailing
boat is economical, it produces less pollution, it has no
engine sounds thus more relaxing, and it is cheaper in price
too due to the absence of engines. A sailing boat is
Practical and beneficial in many different aspects. Then
again, to some boaters, only twin diesel engines will
do...So, we will never know which way the trend will really
go.That is why , we’re here to serve all tastes, and advise
in the best possible way.
sailing boat as safe as a motor boat?
are as safe as the crew sailing them.
said, would we hope to see sailing yachts in BluePoint
Yachting showroom soon?
think that the world of yachting would be going in this
orientation and BluePoint Yachting is proactive in this
view. We will talk about it in details soon.
what advise can you offer a person looking for a used boat?
suggest doing a full homework on the desired boat. A market
study has to be done on the price demanded in order to make
sure that it will undergo acceptable depreciation in the
future. And when you buy a boat just keep in mind that this
is not the end of the story. A boat costs money, it needs
proper maintenance. In Europe you have to budget 10% of the
total price to run and maintain the boat, in Lebanon it is 5
%. You might want to run a small investigation on the
paperwork to make sure all is legal too.
What is your opinion of BatoAutoMoto?
I love this
magazine. I love Bato….I love Auto….and I love Moto….. All
three are my hobbies. This is the first magazine in Lebanon
to focus exclusively on these issues. I wish you all the
luck in the future.