Sunset Boats, an evolution with lots of layers…
Martin Sanborn’s marine industry experience has been on all sides of the business, spanning over 3-decades, including executive management, sales, marketing, administrative, legal management, sales training, mechanical design engineering, mechanical rigging, structural fabrication and repair, performance driving instructor, and manufacturing/production management.
He is also recognized as one of the faces and voices of offshore powerboat racing, providing play-by-play and color commentary for international TV and radio networks such as SPEED, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, ESPN, Euro-Sport, the Outdoor Channel, Talk Offshore and the Water Channel.
He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications from East Carolina University, graduating as a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
Martin grew up in Huntington Beach, California, starting with sail boats as a kid to tinkering on a 13’ Boston Whaler with a 33 Evinrude (owned by his best friend’s parents), motoring through the canals of Huntington Harbor.
But, like most motorheads, his passion for performance started in high school in the muscle car era. His first project was a 1968 Cougar, that he built as an “Eliminator” tribute with a re-engineered trans-am suspension system, 4-wheel disk brakes, Ford 429 Cobra Jet, and 4-speed close ratio trans. But his street hot-rod days quickly transitioned to powerboats on the Colorado River and Lake Havasu, AZ…
Sanborn’s marine industry career started with the innovation icon, Art Carlson, in California. He met Art and his family in the early 80’s and ended up purchasing the prototype CPS-20 Flying Wedge with an inboard jet-drive, ultimately his first personal boat… This boat was eventually completely de-rigged, rebuilt, and powered with a hand-built Ford Boss 429 shotgun engine and Berkley Jet Drive.
As Art was expanding the “wedge” line, Martin got one of the initial 24’ Victory Performance wedges, built by Jack Clark, whom he would later work with at Fountain Powerboats. From a bare hull, he engineered the rigging, drivetrain and upholstery as his first full build project. This became his first offshore race boat, which was campaigned in the Pacific Offshore APBA series (POPBRA).
In the early 90’s Art’s wedge design evolved into a 33’ model. Martin’s family teamed with Art to build and rig the initial production prototype. As they were putting the boat though its validation/testing cycle, Art reached out to an old friend to discuss building the boat in North Carolina, under the Fountain Powerboats brand. Art built one of Reggie Fountain’s first race-boats, and their relationship had spanned decades through the racing world.
Art made arrangements to ship the prototype 33’ Carlson to Washington, NC, and he asked that Martin travel there to show Reggie how the boat performed. After 3-days there in the Fountain factory, Reggie asked Martin to come to work for him, taking over his west coast sales as a factory rep… Shortly thereafter, his career started with Fountain Powerboats, and his life in the high performance offshore fastlane would never be the same. To this day he considers Art as his inspiration to go into the marine industry, and will never forget his encouragement, support, and friendship. “He was an incredible man, as well as a true visionary in the industry,” according to Sanborn.
“I got to work with a lot of great people at Fountain; guys that had been in the industry for years… Reggie, Gary Garbrecht, Marty Boosinger, Gary Baltz, Jack Clark…just to name a few. What an amazing education,” he continued.
Martin’s tenure with Fountain Powerboats included sales, marketing, legal liaison, and culminated as the Vice President of Customer Service, lasting 15-years. He credits Reggie as having presented him with incredible opportunities that propelled him through his career in the industry, opening doors that would have been difficult, if not impossible to open on his own. Reggie provided a level of credibility for which he is beyond grateful. More importantly according to Sanborn, “Reggie is a man that I am honored to call a friend, and for whom I will always have the highest respect and admiration.”
As part of the Fountain racing team, he was associated with the premier team in the history of the sport, where they captured every v-bottom pro series championship, as well as every v-bottom world speed record. Even more important were the people he got to work with on the race-team, all of which helped shape the trajectory of his career. “Reggie, Art Lilly, Jeff Harris, Joey Gratton, Jim Speros, Dan Davies, Todd Welling, Tom Preter, and all of the incredible support staff that we had at Fountain, were instrumental elements in the experience I gained at Fountain,” he recounts.
Through Factory II, Super V, and P1, he and his driver’s secured 2 US-National and World Champion Offshore titles, along with an APBA-UIM world kilo speed record of 142.300 miles per hour, claiming the title ”Worlds Fastest Super-V.”
In 2001, He was tapped to take the reigns of the APBA Offshore organization as President, by Chairman, Michael Allweiss. Along with their incredible team, they presided over one of the most prolific periods in the sport, averaging over 100 boats per offshore event, a feat that has never been matched since.
In 2008 he was introduced to the Chairman of Powerboat P1, Asif Rangoonwala, and started working with them on their European series as a commentator and consultant. In 2010, they made the decision to bring the series to the USA, and they started Powerboat P1 USA, where he was the founder and Managing Director. Within a year, they had designed, and built a new 1-design boat for the global SuperStock series. The P1 Panther is a single engine v-bottom, outboard powered boat that in its current canopy configuration runs an astounding 80mph with a 300R Mercury Racing engine.
After passing on the reigns of the P1 USA operation to Azam Rangoonwala, Martin remained involved with P1 as a consultant, managing the rigging of the P1 Panther powerboat and providing all of the commentary for their racing series.
In 2015, Sanborn joined Mindi Doller’s team in her brokerage office, getting back into the sales side of the business. But, that transitioned quickly into the service department side of the business, where he focused his energy through the acquisition of Doller Offshore by the Performance Boat Center, and through their initial transition year.
In April of 2019, Martin & his wife Kerri decided to take those decades of marine industry experience, and his sales history of over $200 million in powerboat sales, to open their own brokerage in Florida, and Sunset Boats was born. Kerri’s experience in the industry also spans decades, including event marketing with Fountain, sales with the leading marine publications, and high performance insurance sales. They decided to specialize in the high performance industry, but they serve all manner of premium marine vessel buyers and sellers from center consoles to yachts.