Monday, February 17

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Report from Miami: A Great Opening Day

Jeff Druek, the president of Outer Reef Yachts, didn’t make it to the opening day of the Miami boat show this year, although a lot of other people did. The problem was that Druek was just returning from going around Cape Horn on one of his boats, Argo, an 88-footer; he did make it for the second day, however.

The mood on the opening day of the three Miami Shows was decidedly upbeat and optimistic. Down on Virginia Key, home of the Miami International Boat Show, George Armendariz, CEO of Beneteau of the Americas, reported that the huge French builder had worldwide earnings of more than $1 billion Euros in the recent fiscal year, a 10.6 percent increase from the previous year. Group Beneteau had a total of 61 new powerboats at the Virginia Key show and the Yachts Miami Beach show up on Collins Avenue, plus 18 sailboats at the Strictly Sail show in Miami.

After that we (George Day, my partner and Cruising Odyssey publisher, and I) climbed on one of the free buses on Virginia Key and quickly arrived up on Collins Avenue. The logistics of getting between the two shows, which included the buses and water taxis, was much easier this year than it was last year. At the Grand Banks/Palm Beach Yachts exhibit we ran into Tom Whidden, one of the most accomplished sailors in the world, and his wife Betsy; they have bought hull number one of the beautiful new Grand Banks 60.

Down the dock a bit Larry Polster, the vice president and partner at Kadey-Krogen, was excited about hull number one of the new Kadey-Krogen 50 Open (see our review of that boat last week). It will be his personal boat and he’ll have it in time for the Miami show next year; after the show Polster and his wife will spend a lot of time cruising and living aboard, he said, “living the dream we all talk about.”

At the Hinckley exhibit, with three new boats, the 34 Runabout, a 37-foot Picnic Boat and a T48, Roe O’Brien, the marketing manager, was pleased with  the show’s new $20 admission fee, since it meant that show-goers were now more serious customers. At Nordhavn, Jim Leishman, the company’s vice president, said they would bring their new 59 to the East Coast shows next fall.

And then Ipek Kirac, the CEO of Sirena Marine from Turkey, introduced us to their new 56 and 64, both designed by German Frers, who explained that they can operate at trawler speeds for a range of 1,000 nm or so, or at speeds in the mid-20-knot range.  The 56 was launched in time for this show; the 64 for the Dusseldorf show last month. The 56 has one of the best forward cabins I’ve ever seen. The larger 64 is more traditional, with a terrific bridge (affording the picture above).

At the end of the day I ran into Skip Zimbalist, who runs the Yachts Miami Beach show. He was very happy with the opening day. But with four more days to go, he said, “Now we’ll see if  people are going to buy some boats.”



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