MIAMI 2014: Annual Innovation Awards handed out

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Thirteen marine products were honored today for innovative achievement by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Boating Writers International at the 2014 Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show.

“As judges, every year we debate the idea of innovation amongst many great products,” Innovation Awards judge chairwoman Zuzana Prochazka said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing how these products adapt in the marketplace and advance recreational boating.”

The 13 Innovation Awards are as follows, along with judge commentary:

Boat Care and Maintenance: EZPoxy2 by Petit: Single-serving gel pouches of hardener and a longer pot life make this paint more user-friendly, even for the do-it-yourselfer, potentially lowering the cost of boat maintenance and upkeep. Lenny Rudow, senior editor for Dominion Marine Media, said, “If you love your boat, Petit.”

Docking and Fendering Equipment: ShoreStation Boat Hoist by Midwest Industries: A well-designed and well-executed hoist, it minimizes cable ware. “It is fast and low-maintenance,” noted Alan Jones, writer and editor for Boating World magazine.

Furnishings and Interior Parts: Dynamic Cabin System on the Boston Whaler 345 Conquest by Boston Whaler: The retractable cushions solve the issue of storing cushions when not in use. “At the press of a button you can turn a double bed into a dining room. It’s the James Bond of beds,” said Nigel Calder.

Mechanical and Electrical Systems, Co-winners: EZ-Mount Battery Switch by Marinco/Mastervolt; SNAPP Fuel Filter/Water Separator by Racor/Parker Hannifin: Both products solve traditional installation and maintenance challenges. “These will save you time and your knuckles,” Rudow said.

Personal Gear, Soft Goods, Watersports and Fishing Equipment: Zayak Sea Sled by Tropical Paradise Plastics: For kids, older folks or anyone with a fear of snorkeling, the Zayak Sea Sled opens up a whole new world of underwater exploration. “It has all the advantages of snorkeling without the need for a mask and tube,” said judge Ann Dermody, managing editor of BoatUS magazine.

Pontoon and Deck Boats: Expanding Pontoon Boat by Island Boats: This is the first expandable-width pontoon boat that goes from 7 feet, 4 inches, to 10 feet wide. “With a narrow beam for storage and trailering, this boat expands to optimize social space for everyone aboard. It’s not a pontoon; it’s a dance floor,” Jones said.

Boats 25 to 60 feet: 390Z by Sea Vee: This 39-footer pops up on plane with minimal bow rise, turns like a ski boat and delivers higher top speeds than conventional hulls. “One look at the hull will make you want to do the sea trial, and one ride will convince you this is a new kind of stepped hull,” said Alan Wendt, first vice president of BWI and a contributor to marine industry publications.

Propulsion Inboard and Outboard: Gen2 Surf System by MasterCraft: The Gen2 Surf System combines hull design, weight distribution, custom wake-shaping devices and onboard software to create wake options. “It doesn’t matter how big or small or young or old you are, with this system Mastercraft gives you the perfect wake,” Rudow said.

PWC and Jetboats: Spark PWC by Sea-Doo: Sea Doo is expanding the entry level of boating with this model, which is half the weight, half the power and half the price. “Four hours later, I can still taste the adrenaline,” Dermody said.

Runabouts and Fishing Craft to 24 feet: ProStar by Mastercraft: Providing a convertible bow, a storage system for skis and a flatter wake. “Mastercraft’s passion for performance on the water is contagious,” Wendt noted.

Sailboats: Oceanis 38 by Beneteau: Beneteau has found a way to attract younger families to sailing with this convertible boat, which grows with you. “It’s almost enough to turn you from power to sail,” said Roger McAfee, a regular contributor to Pacific Yachting, Sea, Southern Boating, Lakeland Boating and ShowBoats International.

Consumer Electronics, Mobile Applications and Software: NSO16 evo2 by Simrad: The NSO16 evo2 brings big-boat glass bridge style to mid-sized power and sportfishing boats. With one black box running two completely independent screens, the NSO16 also adds affordability to the navigation suite. “More computing power, less installation complexity and incredible functionality is a winning combination,” Prochazka said.

The Innovation Awards, organized by NMMA and judged by BWI, recognize products that best meet the following criteria: innovative distinction from other products currently being manufactured; benefit to the marine industry and/or consumer; practicality; cost-effectiveness; and availability to the consumer within 60 days of award receipt.

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