The St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show, the largest boat show on Florida's Gulf Coast, opens Thursday with upward of 300 boats on display and more than 250 exhibitors, according to Show Management, the company that co-owns, manages and produces the event.
The 35th annual show, which runs through Sunday at the Progress Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin and Albert Whitted Park, also will feature electronics, gear and seminars, as well as fishing clinics.
This year’s show offers more than 65 seminars and educational sessions on great destinations and information about how to turn sailing dreams into on-the-water adventures. Seminar attendees can learn about such subjects as reading the weather, deploying a life raft, sailing with mates, discovering Florida’s coast, financing a boat and learning navigation. The seminar series is presented by Blue Water Sailing.
“The show has been a part of the St. Petersburg community for 35 years, and we continue to look for ways to introduce new features to engage attendees and elevate their experience," said Steve Sheer, director of marketing/advertising/sponsorships with Show Management.
For children, the Kids' Fishing Clinics, presented by Hook the Future, are open to children ages 4-16 and feature marine life experts teaching kids basic fishing techniques. Youngsters will go through entertaining and educational stations hosted by Capt. Don Dingman. Sessions include casting a rod and reel, how to fight a fish, selecting tackle and lures, tying knots and fishing ethics. At the end there will be drawings for prizes.
Square footage of exhibitor space is up from last year, as the show entrance area has been extended by 200 feet, Show Management spokesman Daniel Grant said. The number of exhibitors is also up from last year, although he was unable to provide specifics.
Show Management is part of the Active Interest Media Marine Group, which also includes PassageMaker, Power & Motoryacht, Sail, Soundings, Soundings Trade Only, Yachts International and BoatQuest.com.
The show’s smart phone app, MyBoatShow, has received some enhancements for this show season, including a new search feature allowing show-goers to search for boats by name; an upgraded “favorite” feature enabling users to see which boats they favored at other Show Management-produced boat shows; and a contact form renamed "Connect" that allows users to connect with Show Management, access its YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pages and subscribe to the Show Management e-newsletter.
On Saturday evening attendees can celebrate the cruising lifestyle at the annual St. Pete Cruisers’ Party, which is sponsored by Cruising Outpost magazine. To attend the party visitors have to be inside the show prior to closing. There is no entry to the party after the show has closed. The pizza and drinks are free while they last.
At the Author’s Corner, attendees can browse through marine-related books and meet the authors.
Some of the boats on display:
• Denison Yacht Sales will display the 42-foot Austin Parker, 38-foot Beneteau GT, 34-foot Beneteau Swift Trawler, 34-foot Beneteau GT and the 29-foot Beneteau Barracuda 9. All are 2013 models.
• Galati Yacht Sales will showcase the new Grand Banks 43 Heritage EU. Also on display will be boats from Tiara, Cruisers, Maritimo and Viking.
• Pro Marine will offer a complete line of Sea Hunt Boats.
• Wefings Marine will introduce its “Down East” lines of fuel-efficient boats by Rosborough, Eastern and Seaway.
• Thunder Marine will offer the 223 Nautic Star Deck, Sylvan saltwater pontoons and Monterey boats.
Parking for the show is available at the municipal parking garages surrounding the show grounds. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.showmanagement.com. Admission is free for children under age 15 and military personnel with identification.
— Chris Landry and Reagan Haynes