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A buying crowd at Palm Beach

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Turnout and display space increased at the fast-growing show and exhibitors say sales activity was brisk


The tire-kickers apparently stayed home for this year’s Palm Beach International Boat Show, as manufacturers and brokerages reported strong sales activity and a high number of “quality” consumers.

“I heard it is growing at a rapid rate,” said Jeff Cavanagh, president of Holland, Mich.-based Grand-Craft, builder of mahogany boats, on opening day. “It’s early in the show, but I already see a great turnout of qualified buyers.”

The event’s producer, Show Management, says attendance at the March 21-24 show jumped 3.7 percent from last year. It was the largest show since 2008, according to Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, chairman and CEO of Active Interest Media and Show Management. (AIM also owns Soundings Trade Only.)

Land display area was up 22 percent, to 89,000 square feet, compared with 73,000 in 2012. “We filled every available square inch and went scrounging for more space and still had to turn away a few exhibitors,” Zimbalist said at a media breakfast on the show’s first day. “The show has been growing multidimensionally. We have some of the biggest boats we have ever had.” The largest was a 223-foot Lürssen named Kismet.

The number of new boats in the water increased 31 percent, from 186 in 2012 to 244 this year. The 58 boats that comprised the increase consisted of 44 under 60 feet, nine from 60 to 80 feet, and five larger than 80 feet. The number of brokerage boats in the water was up 25 percent — 299, compared with 239 in 2012. Total boats — new and used — were up 28 percent, from 425 to 543.

HMY Yacht Sales, based in Dania Beach, Fla., displayed 61 new and used boats from 31 to 162 feet. “You get a broad range of boat buyers here,” HMY national sales manager Tim Derrico says. “The show used to be very Southeast Florida and now has become national and somewhat international — not to the degree of Miami, but it’s getting there. It used to be our quiet little show with no other dealers for the products we represent, but that is coming to an end because manufacturers are starting to see that this is a national show.”

Viking Yachts representatives were available at the HMY Yacht Sales display, and representatives of Ferretti Yachts were on location, along with their brokerage, Allied Marine.

Ferretti and Allied did not disclose specifics about the number of boats sold at the show, but it was a “positive show — it was great,” says Brett Keating, the Ferretti Group’s vice president of marketing for the Americas. “We were quite happy with the results, and next year we’ll definitely be back and hopefully with even more boats. That’s the plan.”


With the release of its 8000 series products aimed at the megayacht market, electronics manufacturer Garmin established a prominent presence in West Palm Beach, according to Garmin marine regional sales manager David Dunn. “We need to get our products in front of the people,” he says. “We have so many new products. It would be silly for us not to attend.”

Fort Lauderdale-based Denison Yacht Sales sold two boats — a Beneteau 34 Gran Turismo and a 52 Buddy Davis — according to president Bob Denison. In addition, qualified clients are interested in two of the company’s brokerage boats, he says. “While the crowds seemed a little light to us, people brought their checkbooks, which is great,” Denison says. The company carries five brands: Greenline, Beneteau and Beneteau GT, Austin Parker and Monte Carlo.

Mike Strassel, a broker with RJC Yacht Services & Charter in Fort Lauderdale, sold a 2003 54-foot Hatteras at the show. For Cavanagh and his high-end Grand-Craft boats, Palm Beach proved a good fit: He sold two $300,000 boats.

While he was displaying at the Miami show two years ago, colleagues told Cavanagh, “This boat would really do well at the Palm Beach boat show because there are a lot of buyers who appreciate a contemporary classic.” That boat is a 36-foot Grand-Craft, based on the commuters that were popular in the late 1920s and early ’30s. She’s powered with twin Ilmore V-8 gas engines packing 382 hp each.

The Palm Beach show serves as an effective venue to reach specific clients, Keating adds. Ferretti showcased four new boats: the Pershing 74, Riva 52 Rivale, Bertram 54 and Ferretti 620. In addition, Allied Marine presented about 12 brokerage boats.

“The Palm Beach boat show is unique,” she says. “You have clients that live in the Palm Beach area and often have homes in other areas, and this is the season when they come to their homes in Palm Beach. You won’t find the same people going to Miami or FLIBS.”

How they saw it

“While the crowds seemed a little lighter to us, people brought their checkbooks, which is great. I am glad we did [the show] and we will continue to invest in the show. From a brokerage’s point of view, it’s everybody’s favorite show because it has a very qualified crowd, and it’s relaxed, and it’s a well-run show.”

Bob Denison, president, Denison Yacht Sales

“The local Floridian is going to the Palm Beach boat show and buying boats — it’s a great boat show. It has a real community spirit and lots of boats, from $200,000 10-year-old small motoryachts all the way up to yachts like the $10.9 million, 147-foot Lady M that I had at the boat show.”

Mike Strassel, a broker with RJC Yacht Services & Charter

“We’ve been here the last three years. This show is unique. You don’t get the traffic you might at other shows, but you get a wide range of boaters, from megayacht owners to owners of small boats.”

David Dunn, Garmin senior manager of marine sales and marketing

“I heard it is growing at a rapid rate. It’s early in the show, but I already see a great turnout of qualified buyers.”


Jeff Cavanagh, Grand-Craft president

“A lot of people are repowering their boats. There is a lot of follow-up at this show, and it’s encouraging. People after the show ask me to come look at their boats so I can find out which of our engines is the right fit.”

Mark “Goose” Goosic, Cummins Power South general sales manager

“This show certainly seems like it is growing. It’s a nice venue, with a nice surrounding area. We’ve had good success here.”

Robert L. Johnstone III, MJM Yachts CEO

“Compared to Monaco and Fort Lauderdale, which are our two key shows, it is an opportunity to go into a smaller, more local show. And it’s more sportfishing-oriented, so we are starting to explore new areas and moving away from purely focusing on superyachts.”

Richard Franklin, GO2 Global Yachting managing director

This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue.



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