The Norwalk International Boat Show is still returning to its former size following the recession, but exhibitors at the show said buyers were out at the four-day show that ran Thursday through Sunday.
Traffic on the docks at the in-water show was quite heavy on Friday and turned out current boat owners who were looking to trade up or accessorize their vessels.
The “Queen of the Show,” brought by MarineMax, was a 66-foot Galeon making its Northeastern debut, which was already sold to owners who had taken ownership of the boat a few weeks earlier.
Weather was gorgeous during the four-day show, with the initial heat of Thursday giving way to cooler, sunny fall days during the rest of the week, according to the National Manufacturers Association, which runs the show.
"The show grew by almost 20 percent this year allowing us to offer attendees access to more new products and more options as they shop for their next boat,” said show manager Jon Pritko. “Beautiful weather was on our side throughout the weekend, and exhibitors have reported that the attendee profile was skewed toward qualified buyers, which led to a positive sales environment.”
The Norwalk show has traditionally been an excellent show for the company, MarineMax Norwalk general manager David Dzurilla told Trade Only Today.
“We’ve always invested a lot in this show,” he said. “We sold 18 Galeons at Yachts Miami Beach, so the 66 has never made a landing up in the Northeast. So we went ahead and brought the 660, the 560 and the 43-footer — even though the 660 and the 43 are already sold. We are still taking orders.”
Owner Mindy Guzzone said even though the brand was new to her and her husband, they have been loyal MarineMax customers and trusted them to stand behind the product.
The craftsmanship and layout of the yacht sold her on the product, she said.
“The interior, the lines, the swim platform that goes right down to the water — we’re big jet ski people,” Guzzone said as she offered a tour of the yacht. “We love the fact that it only has three staterooms, the fourth is laundry — because you always use the fourth state room for storage. There’s a regular sized fridge. They utilize the space really well on this boat.”
Bob Stanton, who was checking out the 560 Galeon, said that his company, Performance AV & Security, was doing so well he had recently upsized from a 24-foot Maxum to a 40-foot Cruisers. It was an older model, but was refurbished in 2014, and he was at the show shopping accessories so he could continue the updates.
“My 12-year-old [stepson] has been pushing me for a bigger boat since he was 8,” Stanton said with a laugh. When asked what prompted him to make the leap, Stanton said: “Permission.”
Boston Whaler was also a busy section of the show, with 11 Whalers on display, said Will Rogers, who is head of sales for large Boston Whalers (boats with triple or quad engines).
“This show’s going very well,” Rogers said. “We’re having some phenomenal weather. We’ve had good traffic all morning.”
Rogers said browsers had not only been qualified, they had also been very diverse.
“This guy here is a sailboater, who has a couple Whalers and wants to upsize,” Rogers said, gesturing to a man on board the 320 Vantage. “We’ve also had a couple of megayacht captains come through looking for tenders. We’ve seen everybody today.”
Sea Hunt Boats sales manager Johnny Craig said it was his first time attending the Norwalk show, and that he had been impressed by the quality of shopper.
“The boats are versatile for a family lifestyle, that’s what we’ve always adhered to,” Craig said of the popular 18- to 30-foot vessels.
Bentley Collins of Sabre and Back Cove was taking two prospective Sabre buyers out that evening for sea trials.
“It’s been a typical Norwalk show, which is to say, sparser traffic than we have at some shows, but always quality buyers,” Collins said.
Read more about the Norwalk show in the November issue of Soundings Trade Only.