By Dorie Cox
Everything is positive for this year’s 33rd Palm Beach International Boat Show, according to Chuck Collins, executive director of the group that owns the show, Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County (MIAPBC). He even sees a positive side to last year’s hurricanes — people need boats and accessories.
“The hurricanes destroyed a huge amount of boats,” he said. “I don’t have numbers, but that count is in the thousands; there are still some being pulled out of the water. Insurance checks have been issued and this means new boats, motors, boat lifts and more.”
Many facts back up his sunny outlook. The weather is forecast to be rain-free and numbers are up for the show; everything is on track for the best one ever, Collins said.
“Attendance increased 9.5 percent from 2016 to 2017 and we expect this year to be better,” he said. “Exhibitor numbers are up 5 percent each year and the total number of boats is up 12.5 percent, with a lot of that driven by new boats.”
Growth is happening in the entire boating industry, Collins said.
“The economy is booming, we have tax cuts, the wealth effect, and record consumer confidence,” he said.
Add to all that, technology improvements and new innovations will bring a strong group to the show. Sharing programs such as boat clubs will bring in more millennials, he said.
About three weeks prior to last year’s show, Informa bought Show Management to become the show’s manager and producer. This year sees the company in full swing and things are in place for a great show, said Andrew Doole, vice president and general manager of Informa.
The Superyacht Villas section is back for the largest of the exhibitors, and new composite, encapsulated styrofoam docks are underfoot, he said.
“This year’s show will be the largest,” Doole said. “It’s 400 feet more on the south end; we reconfigured the show.”
Adding to the growth trend are the sizes of yachts. Temporary dockage that encloses sections of yachts is now too small for the larger yachts on display.
“The box was too small,” Doole said. “Our inventory is changing. Used to be, 120 feet was big enough for two 60-foot boats.”
Another change follows last year’s trend, that of new European exhibitors, including Feadship Royal Dutch Shipyard and Dutch builder Amels. This year’s show will see German shipbuilder Lurssen, which will exhibit for the first time. Italian boat builder Rossinavi is also expected to exhibit.
Lurssen brings to the show the largest yacht this year, the 238-foot (73m) M/Y Coral Ocean, and Amels brings M/Y Lady S, at 225 feet (68.5m). There may also be two large yachts on display at Rybovich.
The show runs today through Sunday, March 22-25, in downtown West Palm Beach along the waterfront. For more information visit www.pbboatshow.com.
Dorie Cox is editor of Triton Today. Comments are welcome below.