Above the ordinary
An industrial building of 250 square meters was erected by the Vikom ferry shore in Nauvo at the end of 1966. That is where an entirely new boatyard, Na-Boats, began its operations.
The first Flipper was a 3,6-meter rowing boat, named aptly Lill Flipper. The clear, fresh and positive name was borrowed from a dolphin that featured in a popular tv-series in the 1960´s. The dolphin was present even the first Flipper logo.
The first motorboat, Flipper Weedo, was introduced in 1968. It was unsinkable and would not tip over even when full of water; thus, a true trailblazer in boat safety.
The actual breakthrough took place two years later with Flipper 450HT. This family boat was sturdy and spacious, and its bold design raised well-deserved attention.
Flipper was technologically advanced and had a unique, emotional image. Those elements provided a solid basis for the next decades’ success. The brand was perceived as being youthful and fast which sent out a clear promise of breakaway from everyday boredom.
In 1969, a racing catamaran Flying Flipper was introduced. With its wing-like hull that linked the pontoons on each side, its profile resembled aircrafts. It also has superior top speed compared to its single-hull competitors, which made Flying Flipper a widely used racing boat.
Especially the fiberglass work impressed even the most critical ones. The boats were laminated carefully by hand, and no air bubbles were visible. Even in 1973, all decks were made out of layered structures that were both light and strong.
In 1974, the first single-keel Flipper (570 HT) was introduced. The boat’s hull structure was stepped at the stern, which substantially contributed to less friction and increased speed – this again lead to remarkably smaller fuel consumption than what the competitors could achieve.
No polyurethane was used beneath the waterline. The sales arguments were airtight; the boat charmed both with its intelligence and emotions.
Flipper 640 HT, introduced in 1981, was the first Flipper that was manufactured with an inboard motor. It proved to be the best-selling model in the early 1980’s, with over a thousand boats made.
The second, even more famous Flying Flipper entered the market in 1984. It was sporty like its successor, but also suitable for overnight trips – no wonder it became a flagship for the Flipper fleet. It gained popularity even beyond the Nordic countries, and its success was further strengthened when Flying Flipper won the diesel boat class in Round Britain race in 1984.
At the end of 1986 the controlling interest of Flipper-Boats was sold to Rapala, a company known mainly for their lures, and in June of 1990 further to Siltala Yachts. The trades were designed to secure the profitable growth of a boat brand that had managed to get on a steady roll, but a real new home was not found until Bella-Veneet, a company out of Kuopio, purchased Flipper in the autumn of 1992.
Flipper brand opened the new market areas to Bella-Veneet Oy, especially in the middle Europe and UK. Finland plunged into recession and also the economical situation in other Nordic countries was not the strongest. The boat market in Scandinavian declined early 1990’.
The cabin cruisers were very popular during the 90’s and very important part of the Flipper success during those years. In mid 1990’s new Flipper boat models were introduced. New flagship of the Flipper model range, Flipper 999 – cabin cruiser, was introduced in 1995. During the same year also a smaller cabin cruiser, Flipper 787, was launched. Bella-Veneet Oy started to build bigger Flipper boats in the second manufacturing location in Larsmo, Finland.
The platform for 6 meters boat models was introduced in 1999. Flipper 630 DC, Flipper 630 OC, Flipper 630 CC and Flipper 630 HT were modern looking and very successful in the market. Especially the Flipper 630 HT model was announced to be one of the most beautiful and developed hard top -type boat in that time.
During the first years of 2000’s the sales growth of Flipper boats was very strong. In 2003 Brunswick, the owner of the Mercury boat engine brand, became a part owner of the Bella-Veneet Oy. The Flipper boats were solely pre-rigged for the Mercury engines. The years 2000 until 2008 were the years of strong growth for Bella-Veneet Oy. The capacity of the two manufacturing locations was in full use. The recession started 2008 and changed the whole boat industry heavily.
In the beginning of 2010´s, the entire Flipper range was renewed to match the customer’s needs. The design was completely changed; i.e. the handling was further improved, and the structures were made stiffer and more durable. The years of the late 2010’s were strong international growth for Flipper. New markets areas were opened, farthest of these was Australia.
During years 2012-14, altogether 10 new Flippers were brought to the market. They captivated the target audience immediately; the requirements of modern boater had been thoroughly considered. Several details have changed, but the eternal strengths of Flipper – quality, brand and uniqueness – are still present, perhaps stronger than ever before.