Thursday, October 1

Lauderdale Show Opens: Good Vibes, $4 Billion Worth of Boats, Plus Ferraris, Helicopters

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The iconic Fort Lauderdale show just got off to a good start, with blue skies, large crowds, and boats, boats and more boats. Indeed, at breakfast just before the show opened, Skip Zimbalist, who runs the show as the head of Show Management, said there were more boats than ever before, including eight over 200 feet, while advance ticket sales were up 20 percent from last year. The Lauderdale show, arguably the largest show in the United States, has seven locations with small boats, big boats, superyachts and all the appropriate toys. Zimbalist noted that a $7 million helicopter landed yesterday, in case you want one to go with your superyacht, while last year a $1 million car was sold on the first day of the show, “although why you’d go to a boat show to buy a car, I don’t know.”
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Bill McGill, the CEO of MarineMax, the world’s largest boat dealer with 56 dealerships in the U.S., said revenue was up 22 percent this year, and he expected big gains from the 14 MarineMax displays here (including Sea Ray, Boston Whaler and Azimut). “Having new product makes the difference,” McGill said. Beneteau has 61 boats here from 15 to 105 feet. The French company earns 31 percent of its worldwide revenue in North America. Laurent Fabre, president of Beneteau America, said he was looking for strong sales for the new Swift Trawler 30 being shown here. (Beneteau has already sold 250 Swift Trawlers in the U.S.) Nick Harvey, the president of Jeanneau America, said he expected a good reaction to the new Michael Peters-designed Leader 30, displayed here, as well as the new New Concept 28 outboard. (New Concept is the new name for Jeanneau’s Merry Fisher line.)
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Once the gates opened, Tiara christened its new 44-foot flybridge cruiser, where the enclosed bridge is massive. Doug Zurn, the designer, told me he hoped to have the first MJM 35Z, with outboard power, in the water next spring. The gorgeous new Palm Beach 65 drew a crowd, and boat owners at Kadey-Krogen were talking about the company’s 40th anniversary rendezvous next summer in Newport. And the Ferrari and helicopter displays along the Face Dock were busy. The show runs through Monday, Nov. 7.
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