Report from Palm Beach: “The Best of the Season.”
Traditionally, the Palm Beach boat show is a buyer’s show; a lot of people, so the thinking goes, look at the Miami shows, but then a month later they actually buy in Palm Beach. The Palm Beach show, which just ended, certainly had a lot of the major cruising boats that had already been displayed in Miami, but it also had some new ones, including the Vicem 46IPS from Turkey and the Minorca 34 from Spain, while the new Sabre 45 (from Maine, of course) was undergoing sea trials just up the coast in Jupiter (see our separate stories on all these boats). And it seemed that, despite the rain on opening day, people were indeed buying in Palm Beach.
“We had an exceptional show,” said Dave Northrop, VP of sales and operations, Americas, for both Grand Banks and Palm Beach Yachts. “It was the best show of the season across both brands.”
Bentley Collins, the VP of marketing and sales for Back Cove and Sabre, also was happy with the show. He said the Back Cove 37 and 41 “got loads of attention and sales,” with more to follow, and that he was “very encouraged by the enduring popularity of the Back Cove 37” (pictured above), which many people think is just the right size for a single-diesel, Downeast-style serious cruising boat. The Sabre 42 and 48 flybridge also got a lot of attention, Collins said, but he was surprised that “literally dozens of people came by” to ask about the new Sabre 45, showing the strength of that brand and the importance of introducing new boats in the line.
Outer Reef Yachts christened a new 70 at the show, a cause for celebration. Tracy Hess Burgess, Outer Reef’s director of marketing, said that traffic was a bit lighter than in previous years, but the people who came were serious buyers; in fact, Outer Reef is dealing with a serious candidate for another new 70.
Jenny Stern, the marketing director for Nordhavn, agreed that “the traffic wasn’t busy but the quality was there.” And many people agreed that there were more serious buyers in Palm Beach than there had been in Miami.
I stopped by MJM Yachts and talked with Doug Zurn, who designs them, and Mark Lindsay, who builds them at Boston BoatWorks. They said business has been so good lately that the 50z, 40z and new 35z (with twin outboards) are all backlogged at the factory for a year. Bob Johnstone, the founder of MJM, said that 2016 had been a record year for the company, with a 22 percent increase in revenue, and he was projecting a similar gain for this year.
How things have changed. Who would have predicted that just a few years ago?