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Palm Beach International Boat Show tops for location, clients

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When yacht captains were asked yesterday to share their thoughts about the Palm Beach International Boat Show, like most in the industry, they praised the ease of parking, the plethora of places to eat, and the wide-open, almost casual feel of this show.

When it came to selling the big-white-boat, it also seems that Palm Beach is a better environment.

“This is a nicely laid-out show,” said Capt. Riaan Coetzer of M/Y Katya, a 46m Delta. “It’s not the biggest, but it’s definitely one of the nicer ones.”

About 20 of the 50-or-so largest yachts in the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami last month are on display in Palm Beach this week. Among captains who have done both, they preferred the location, amenities and ambiance of the Palm Beach show, as well as its selling platform.

“Down there, they want the go-fast boats,” said Capt. Craig Cannon of M/Y Miss Lisa, a 92-foot Citadel. “For a 10-knot boat like this, it’s not worth going. They don’t have the clientele for us. Plus, it’s so hard to get in and out of there.”

Capt. Cannon said the owner skipped exhibiting in the Miami show this year after being in it in 2014.

“This is a good venue, close to downtown, there’s parking,” he said. “And the clientele is better, more affluent. In Miami, you have that, for sure, but for this boat, the clients are here.”

While captains and crew may prefer Palm Beach, “the atmosphere is better for buyers as well,” said Capt. Dave Johnson of the 124-foot Moonen M/Y Northlander. “It’s a pleasant district, there’s plenty of parking.”

Several captains noted that they were busier in Miami (so far, at least), but that didn’t translate into better.

Palm Beach International Boat Show. Photo by Lucy Reed

Palm Beach International Boat Show. Photo by Lucy Reed

“I’m never looking for busy, I’m looking for quality,” Johnson said. “And the quality is excellent here. … We’re welcoming guests that didn’t see the boat in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. We’re generating new interest, seeing different people.”

“Miami was a lot busier, but everything is smaller; smaller docks, smaller boats,” said Capt. Alex Aslou of the 164-foot Trinity M/Y Imagine. “This show is more substantial, bigger docks, more vendors. It’s like it’s geared more toward the larger boat clientele. At 164 feet, we were the largest in Miami. Here, we’re Aurora’s tender.”

M/Y Aurora, the 200-foot Lurssen, is the largest show on exhibit in the Palm Beach show.

Another captain said the show is also good for smaller boats. He’d seen a lot of interest in his yacht, the 108-foot Broward M/Y Double Down, for which he is also the broker.

“One of the brokers yesterday said I have four buyers for 100-foot-ish Browards,” said Capt. Ian O’Connell, also a broker with Yachting Experts. “Those buyers weren’t there in Miami.”

Those clients are ready to move up from the 60- to 80-foot market, he said.

“And that’s just within the past month,” he said. “After being in Miami, brokers previewing the boat said you have to go to Palm Beach; that’s the right show for this boat.”

Several captains and crew said it was too early to tell how this show will compare. With a noon opening on Thursday and a rainy Friday, they weren’t yet ready to call it in favor of Palm Beach.

But Capt. Brett Sussman of the 116-foot Azimut M/Y Happy Hour had no reservations.

“This show is more exclusive,” he said. “The people who come here are more serious.”

But perhaps the biggest difference he noticed is in the display from the brokers.

“Brokerage houses here make more of an effort,” he said. “Their presence is bigger here, and that translates into it feels better.”

Lucy Chabot Reed is editor of Triton Today. Comments: lucy@the-triton.com.

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