Rok Babarovic with Overblue Yachts shares how their innovative power catamaran yachts offers all the comforts of a green-friendly home on the water
Anchors Aweigh is a podcast for all boaters, from aspiring to experienced. Featuring in-depth conversations with boating experts and industry leaders, and packed full of tips, tricks, gear, and industry info, boaters of all levels will come away with new skills and knowledge each episode.
As the boating industry continues to innovate, the variety of products available to consumers continues to grow and amaze. Technology is infiltrating every aspect of boat building and usage from on board electronics to 3D printing in the design process. Motors are getting bigger and more sophisticated. Smart phone apps can control many of the boat’s systems.
And then every once in awhile, something like Overblue Yachts comes along that is so out of the box that it redefines a category of boat completely.
Rok Babarovic is part of a team that has introduced a new genre of yacht. As Business Development Manager, Rok has helped launch the Overblue series of yachts – part power cat, part houseboat.
Sensing that people today are seeking comfort, safety, innovation, efficiency as well as adventure all combined in one product, Overblue designed a yacht that offers all the comfort of modern home, is able to cruise in all conditions, is full of innovative solutions, is easy to maintain, is ecological and competitively priced.
Prior to joining Overblue Yachts in 2015, Rok worked for Seaway Yachts with a focus on sales and marketing and as a Senior Project Manager on carbon high performance blue water sailing yachts.
Rok grew up boating around the islands of Croatia and has had many amazing experiences boating around the world in places like Norway, Greece, Hong Kong, and the Caribbean.
We discussed what it was like growing up in one of the most beautiful boating destinations in the world, how he transitioned from Computer Science to the boat industry, the origins of the Overblue design and how it came to market, and much, much more. Enjoy!
Be sure to click on links to listen to the full podcast interview at the end!
Growing up in the boating lifestyle
I’ve been involved in boating since I was little. My parents live on an island in Croatia and this is where I started with small fishing boats with my father. Everyone has a boat there so in the summer we used to mess around with different boats and take the tourists around and play. This is how my hobby boating started until I joined it professionally around twenty years old.
It’s not a very big island but in Croatia it’s the second biggest island. My father was born in a village with five hundred people. Once a week a ship came from Split and brought everything the small village needed. When I started spending my summers on the island it was all about fun, spending time on the boats and fooling around.
Croatia as a boating destination
There are over one thousand islands. I’ve been sailing there for most of my life and it’s really something unique. It’s still very preserved so you get to experience nature and sail around island hopping. Islands are not far from each other so you’re safe from the sea, from the bigger waves, which is very comfortable for newcomers.
Sailing versus power
I always take a sailboat. It brings me closer to nature and allows me to switch off. Lifting those sails up, listening to the wind, just switching off is one of the nicest things you can experience on a boat.
Boating around the world
One of the very unique places which I was astonished by is Norway. It is something extremely unique and a one of a kind experience with very steep mountains and fjords and beautiful nature and sea.
Down south you have Greece which is totally something different. Not a lot of marinas or ports like we’re used to in Croatia or other parts of the Mediterranean. Then you have the Caribbean, another experience totally different and unique. Hong Kong is also a beautiful place and then going further down south in Australia and New Zealand – I remember going out on a powerboat in Auckland going fishing for snappers.
Sometimes when I go fishing with friends in Croatia we go for two or three days and we’re happy if we catch a bucket. But when I went for an afternoon in Auckland by the time we finished putting the baits in half were already full with fish. In two hours we had a full cockpit of snappers. That was just amazing.
The Overblue reception in the U.S.
I love the U.S. market and the way people are open minded. This year we had three boats at the show and it turned heads around. We had a lot of visits and half of the people were dealers and brokers from the industry.
We appreciate this market so much because people are so open minded and when they see Overblue and come into the cockpit area with a nice big flat platform, no steps around, they come into the salon with the nice big sofa, they just get it. They understand immediately why this boat is designed the way it looks.
The origins of Overblue Yachts
Our founder has owned a lot of boats and was always a little bit restrained to enjoy space and comfort. They went to one of the lakes in the United States and rented a big house boat and really loved the space.
He was really blown away by the comfort but at the same time, the same way he was fascinated by the volume and space, he was not very impressed by how the boat was built and the design and implementation of all the furniture inside. Also, he was not impressed with the fact that these houseboats are not really made to move around a lot.
So he asked himself why nobody has built or designed a boat which has all this space and volume focused around the person, but can also go out in the sea. It needs to offer simple solutions in terms of usage, maintenance, handling etc. Eventually we said we have to build one now. The whole idea of the range was 44 and 54 which soon became a range of six models today because of the demand in the market.
Getting CE Class B Certification
At the end of the day, it’s registered, designed, certified and engineered as a power cat. The fact that we’re using the full beam allows us to use the terms home environment, home dimensions, head room, and things like that, but it’s a boat, it’s a catamaran.
Changes in the boat industry
I think the boat industry has changed more in the last five to seven years than in the last thirty years. Traveling around a lot, talking to a lot of different people, cultures, mentalities, I see that owners are using boats in a different way.
You will experience soon that the younger generation has a tendency to not like to own things. This is one of the facts we will have to accept because we are selling something that people don’t really need. We’re selling something that people actually want so the approach to the market is completely different. All the boat builders will have to understand that because they will need to adapt. Organizations such as timeshares and boat clubs are unique approaches to the market that are needed today and are actually successful.
This is where Overblue Yachts differs different ways of owning and using this product, applying it to the industry in terms of different businesses. We’re at the moment building a boutique hotel on the Overblue 58. They’re going to sell cabins with a captain. The product offers it and this is what’s very nice for whoever wants to own it and enjoy it.
Advice for aspiring boaters
When you decide to boat, two questions are the most important. The first one is ‘what can you afford?’ and the other one is ‘how much time do you have?’ This will define how you can actually boat, whether it’s spending more time on a bigger boat or weekends on a smaller boat, whether that’s sharing a boat with a friend or chartering a boat because you are too busy. Those two questions will direct you.
Advice that I was given when I was doing a lot of sailing was ‘respect the sea’. If you follow that advice you will always enjoy, you will never be surprised, and even if you do get surprised you will be prepared. After all, it’s nature and it’s extremely strong and we should really know what we’re doing. Respect the sea was one of the strongest pieces of advice I’ve gotten in my career which affects the way I boat.
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