Graham Brown, managing director of Sea Sure Ltd, a boat fittings and accessories design, development and manufacturing specialist in Warsash, Southampton, bought his wife Judith a Merry Fisher powerboat nearly 10 years ago. It was intended for relatively smooth conditions in lakes and inlets but she wanted to cross the Solent to the Isle of Wight over waters that are much choppier, despite it being one of the most sheltered channels in Europe. The buffeting she endured when seated in the boat and her observations on how useful it would be to have a suspension system under the seat were the start of a new venture that looks set to transform the fortunes of Brown’s company.
The shock mitigation product range, SHOCK-WBV, Brown went on to develop was a difficult project, as jolting in a boat is complex and in multiple axes and the motions have to be monitored by on-board accelerometers to more than 10g at elevated speeds. The full mitigation solution now includes cushioning in the seat upholstery as well.
Today, sales of three versions of SHOCK-WBV, which were introduced five years ago, account for 10% of turnover but it could easily become three-quarters within the next few years. Boat builders around the world are ordering them in quantities of up to 300 at a time and there is also a big retrofit market, including on the company’s doorstep along the busy River Hamble. In powerboat recreational use and racing globally, the suspension systems that Sea Sure was instrumental in creating are becoming increasingly popular and the firm currently has a two-thirds market share.