Sea Ray designs and manufactures popular recreational motorboats under 65 feet in length. With more than 40 models, this American company has made a mark on the marine industry with innovations on pleasure cruisers and yachts for more than 60 years. Originally built in Michigan, today’s Sea Rays and sister-company, Meridian Yachts, are built in factories in two locations in Tennessee (one in Knoxville) and two in Florida.
Sea Ray’s History
Ray Industries was founded by Cornelius Nathanial Ray III, known as C.N. or Connie, in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959. The company built fiberglass boats at a family-run factory in Oxford, Michigan in the Great Lakes region.
Ray was considered a pioneer in boating with his company’s early use of fiberglass in the Sea Ray brand of recreational boats. Being based in an automotive-industry area boosted the development of another innovation, the integration of elements of car interiors of the time. Ray hired an automobile designer, a stylist from General Motors, to build consoles, dashboards, and upholstery trim that resembled the cutting-edge patterns and lines used in cars, according to the Detroit Historical Society.
Sea Ray also designed and manufactured the molded-in swim platform which was integral to the first Ski Ray water skiing boats.
Ray was strong in marketing and building his Sea Ray brand. Using his studies at the University of Detroit in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, he had a focus on the financial success of the brand distributors around the country and abroad.
Ray sold Ray Industries, the manufacturer of Sea Ray, to the Brunswick Boat Group, a division of Brunswick Corporation, for $350 million in 1986. After 27 years at the helm, Ray then became known for his ownership and professional racing of thoroughbred horses. He died of cancer in 2009 at the age of 84.
Sea Ray continued to grow after the purchase by Brunswick and a manufacturing plant was opened on Merritt Island, Florida, in 1972. During the company’s manufacturing heyday, that location built and delivered about 20 boats a week. Much of that production was eventually reduced as the boating industry weathered financial changes.
The Brunswick brand owns a sizable chunk of the marine market with ownership of boat builders and auxiliary products. It was in 1986 that Brunswick acquired both Sea Ray and Bayliner brands. In 1988, Brunswick added Trophy, Maxum, Robalo, and Spectrum boat. In 1988 Brunswick bought Keikhaefer Aeromarine, which became Mercury Racing. In 2001, Brunswick bought Hatteras Yachts, Sealine, and Princecraft; and Cabo Yachts in 2006. But Brunswick sold Cabo and Hatteras in 2014. The company also owns Boston Whaler, Crestliner, Lowe Boats, Cypress Cay, Princecraft, Lund, Heyday, Protector boats.
Brunswick also owns Mercury Marine and uses the motors in the production of Sea Ray boats.
Sea Ray Sidebars
Awards for Sea Ray
2012 - The Sea Ray 370 Venture was named “Boat of the Year 2012” by the editors of Boating magazine. The boat includes Mercury Marine Verado outboards.
2019 - Sea Ray received the top Powerboat Manufacturer honor from the National Boating Industry’s Safety Awards.
2020 - Again Sea Ray was recognized as the Top Powerboat Manufacturer from the National Boating Industry.
Some of the Top Sea Ray Models
Sea Ray L Class