Businesses look forward to showing off new products at boat show
By Charlotte Libov
Fearless Yachts CEO Jeffery Binder finds the 66th annual Miami International Boat Show is the ideal venue to launch his company and showcase its line of high-speed luxury boats and yachts designed with Porsche Design Studio.
He is not alone, though. Also on hand will be Xavi Dalmau, CEO of Luxe Marine whose new company is the exclusive US distributor of Austria-built Frauscher speedboats. The two Miami-area business owners are among the 2,200 exhibitors targeting the 145,000 or more recreational boating enthusiasts expected show up for the Feb. 15-19 show, considered to be among the world's best boat shows.
"People come to this show from all over the world. It's the top show in the world for power boating and among the top shows in the world for yachting. We could have premiered this boat someplace else, but we waited to premiere it here," said Mr. Binder.
The show, which began as a 50-exhibitor show in a tent on land at what is now Bayside Park, now fills three venues — the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr.; Sea Isle Marina & Yachting Center, 1635 N. Bayshore Dr.; Miamarina at Bayside, 401 Biscayne Blvd.
In addition, private parties will be hosted at clubs, pools and hotels in South Beach as well as on yachts at the nearby Yacht and Brokerage Show.
"The Miami show continues to grow by leaps and bounds and enables dealers and manufacturers to showcase their newest products before an international audience of serious buyers. It is truly the greatest show of shows that kicks off boating season and sets the barometer for annual boat sales," said Cathy Johnson, the show's manager and vice president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which bought the event in 1984.
She cited several reasons for the show's growth. Florida, she said, boasts the largest number of registered boat owners in the US — 973,859. In addition, Miami offers a convention center close to the water. Furthermore, Miami is considered an international location, so people from other countries feel comfortable here.
About 60% of attendees are expected to be from Florida, with 25% from the rest of the US and the rest from about 80 other countries, she said.
Florida is home to 2,189 marinas and 70,133 boat slips and leads the country in boating manufacturing with 209 builders, 215 plants and 29,100 employees.
In addition, the state's recreational boating industry generated $37 billion in 2005, up 13% from a year earlier, according to the association's figures.
An economic study on the 2005 show found that it generated about $817.8 million in gross sales and wages for the state — including $231.3 million in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The estimated 145,335 visitors spent about $64.6 million on travel-related goods. Florida companies enjoyed $428.4 million in sales, the show generated $41.6 million in excise and sales tax revenues and out-of-state exhibitors spent an estimated $12.9 million on travel-related goods and services, the survey said.
Mr. Binder said the show is an ideal venue to unveil the first offerings of his Miami Beach boat-manufacturing company, which he launched in 2003 with partner. The company has an exclusive collaboration agreement with Porsche Design Studio in Austria to design the vessels, which are 28 to 150 feet in length.
"We formed collaboration with Porsche Design Studios because we felt there had been nothing innovative in the area of high-speed luxury motorboats since the 1980s and Porsche, as the designer of Porsche cars, could bring us that," he said.
The result of the three-year collaboration is a seamless boat "without a rivet on it," he said. The company will unveil its 44-foot and 68-foot vessels at the show. A 125-foot version will be shown in 2009 and a 150-footer in 2010, he said.
The 44-foot boat, which seats four, retails for $299,000, he said. The larger boats have not been priced. The smaller boats will be built in Bradenton, the larger ones in Italy, he said.
Mr. Dalmau's company, Luxe Marine, will introduce three models of powerboats ranging from $104,000 to $181,000, he said. The boats are built by Frauscher, a 75-year-old company that is a leading European luxury-boat brand, he said.
Mr. Dalmau said he prefers the Miami show over the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, usually held in October. "The Miami boat show is really held at an ideal time," he said. "It's in February, so people still have some time to think about it. But its only a few months until boating weather, so people sometime decide right on the spot."