Outdoors

Strong attendance, spending expected at Miami-Dade County boat shows

Boat show visitors check out the 2014 show at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Retail sales of new powerboats were up 7 percent in 2014.
Boat show visitors check out the 2014 show at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Retail sales of new powerboats were up 7 percent in 2014. Miami Herald Staff

Over the next week, South Floridians will have to take care swinging a yo-yo to avoid striking a new boat in downtown Miami and most of Miami Beach.

The 2015 Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show and the Miami Yacht & Brokerage Show open Thursday through Feb. 16, drawing more than 100,000 buyers and admirers to peruse billions of dollars worth of boats, marine electronics, hardware and accessories.

“We are seeing a tremendous volume of new product from boat and accessory manufacturers,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which puts on the Progressive Miami show. “There are probably more new models of boats at the Miami show than in many, many years.”

The Progressive Miami Show will be spread over three sites: Miami Beach Convention Center where small and midsized boats, electronics and accessories are displayed; Miamarina at Bayside featuring new sailboats and sailing gear; and Sea Isle Marina holding large powerboats.

The Yacht & Brokerage Show on Miami Beach’s Indian Creek Waterway exhibits hundreds of new and used yachts up to 165 feet long.

Although technically separate from the Miami show, the Yacht & Brokerage Show has been held in conjunction with it for many years.

Both shows anticipate strong sales fueled by a strengthening economy. Retail sales of new powerboats were up 7 percent in 2014 — a little higher than expected, according to the NMMA. Amid declining unemployment and gasoline prices, dealers have been selling lots of boats at shows earlier this winter, according to Dammrich.

Andrew Doole, senior vice-president and chief operating officer of Show Management, which puts on the Yacht & Brokerage Show, says the market for new and used luxury yachts is brisk. Doole said 20 to 40 vessels priced at $1 million and up were withdrawn from the show in recent weeks because they came under contract. Those exhibitors were replaced by others waiting to get in.

“We’re excited about the mood of the market,” he said. “We’re expecting a great show.”

The flood of new marine products to the market is reflected in the annual Innovations Awards presented at the Progressive Miami show. A record 97 entries have been submitted from manufacturers of boats, electronics and other marine gear. Winners in various categories will be announced at the show.

“Every other day, I’m getting an email from a boat maker or electronics manufacturer introducing something new,” Miami show manager Cathy Rick-Joule said. “A very consistent drumbeat through the show season so far.”

Industry watchers say show attendees should expect to see more new boat models over 30 feet; vessels in the 23-to-25-foot range that incorporate big-boat features such as enclosed cabins with heads; powerboats with touch-screen controls in place of buttons and dials; and lots of new offerings in saltwater fishing craft, ski/wakeboard and pontoon boats.

To help draw new participants into boating and keep veteran boaters interested in the sport, the Progressive Miami show will offer a host of seminars: Discover Boating with hands-on skills workshops for newbies and Fred Shed’s Interactive Learning Center for experienced boaters — both at the convention center; numerous sailing-centric sessions at Miamarina, and fishing seminars in the Big Game Room at the convention center.

Traffic will be extra heavy on local roads and waterways for the next week as boats arrive on trailers or under tow by tugboats to the shows’ in-water and shore-based sites, and as would-be boat buyers take test runs on Biscayne Bay and the ocean.

The boat shows

Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show

When: Thursday-Feb. 16.

Where: Miami Beach Convention Center, Sea Isle Marina, Miamarina at Bayside.

Admission: $35 Premier Day, Feb. 12; $20 for adults Feb.13-16; free for children 15 and under accompanied by an adult.

More information: www.miamiboatshow.com.

Miami Yacht & Brokerage Show

When: Thursday-Feb. 16

Where: Indian Creek Waterway along Collins Avenue between 41st and 52nd streets, Miami Beach.

Admission: Free

More information: www.showmanagement.com.

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