St. Petersburg show reports attendance boost

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stpetersburg1205ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With four consecutive days of sunny skies, the 34th annual St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show wrapped up Sunday with a 18 percent increase in overall attendance, according to Show Management chief financial officer Ricardo Strul.

“I think it was a great show in terms of attendance,” he told Soundings Trade Only this morning. “On Saturday we were really beating the numbers by double digits.”

The show, which is held at the Progress Energy Center for the Arts, Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin and Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg, consisted of boats both in the water and on the hard. The show got off to a healthy start Thursday with a 25 percent increase in new boats and exhibitor revenue up about 8 percent, said Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, chairman and chief executive of Active Interest Media, the parent company of Show Management, which produces the show. AIM also owns Soundings Trade Only.

“It’s a real pleasant surprise, and we were selling some boats,” Zimbalist said Saturday at the show. “We have some really amazing boats, both on the powerboat side and sailboat side, including a 45-foot Beneteau, which was introduced here to the West Coast of Florida. On the power side, we have a 50-foot Maritimo from Galati Yachts and a 60-foot Sea Ray that MarineMax brought.”

The mood among exhibitors and show-goers was upbeat, Zimbalist said. “People have been depriving themselves,” he said. “They want a new boat, and they’ve been holding off on buying.” Now consumers are beginning to make commitments to buy, he said.

The number of exhibitors this year was up 7 percent, he said. Although the majority of exhibitors are based in Florida, other states represented include Alabama, Texas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana and New York, he said.

For Silver Bay, N.Y.-based Hacker-Craft, builder of retro mahogany runabouts, the St. Petersburg event was an opportunity to grow new markets, said Erin M. Badcock, Hacker Boat Co.’s director of operations. “We’re finding some people who haven’t seen these boats and some who actually didn’t know they were still being built,” said Badcock, whose company, Erin Investments, took full ownership of the builder in June. “There aren’t a lot of Hackers in Florida, but we hope to change that.”

Of course, the show featured plenty of Florida builders, including custom fishing/day cruising boats from Bonadeo Boatworks, of Stuart, Fla. The company’s 368 Walk-Around attracted schools of show-goers. On Saturday, the boat was packed from bow to stern.

“In this size range and type of boat, there are not a lot of options for custom boats,” company vice president of operations Tony Bonadeo said. This is the 7-year-old company’s seventh boat, a high-end open boat with a berth and head below the console.

The number of new powerboats from 20 to 50 feet was up by about 20 percent, according to Strul. A Hatteras 68 convertible offered by the Tom George Yacht Group of Dunedin, Fla., was the largest boat at the show.

This marks the fourth year sailboats have been part of the St. Petersburg show. More than 25 sailboats from 33 to 50 feet were shown, Strul said. And more than 60 seminars were held during the show. Show-goers were able to navigate the show with Show Management‘s free MyBoatShow app for the iPhone/iPad and Android platforms.

— Chris Landry

This story was updated to delete a quote attributed to Ricardo Strul.


One comment on “St. Petersburg show reports attendance boost

  1. John Ennis

    The show had almost no advance publicity with the states largest newspaper(St. Petersburg Times) less then ten miles away all but ignoring it.. I blame that on SKIP He totaly dropped the ball. The blame stops at the top and that is he. This industry is barely treading water and the media should not be a promotion vehicle bu the exhibitors Got Totaly Ignored. Full confession. I spent 33 years as a reporter and editor in the media as well as runing a six pack and public safety boat and I have seen the Times and other papers to continue to gasp for survival as the nation laps up ten second TV sound bites and runs to the polls.. One of the first things the times did when the economy crashed was to emasculate business reporting at a time when people needed more information not less. The times has one of the best outdoor editors in the nation, Terry Tomilin but, in a state that relies to a large extent on visitors who are outdoors oriented, boating fishing,kayaking, etc..the powers that be cut him back to what is essentialy a quarter of a page in the Friday sports section. Yet it still devotes a full section to what are time consuming food recepies that few have time or money to pay any attention to. TV did little better by sending reporters in jackets and ties to docks with little or no knowledge of the story they were assigned to report on. It showed and I’m not at all suprised. Hey I bailed when the tide turned.

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