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Exhibitors optimistic after Annapolis sail show

Overall attendance dipped slightly at the U.S. Sailboat Show, but vendors said sales were strong.

"The weather had no impact on sales," Annapolis Boat Shows general manager Paul Jacobs said in a statement. "Sailors came to Annapolis from 24 countries around the world to shop, compare and purchase sailboats."

The show, held Oct. 10-14 in Annapolis, Md., booked more exhibitor space than at any time in its 44-year history and vendors and boatbuilders reported historic sales. Seminars and events were at capacity or sold out well in advance, including the “Take the Wheel” program and the 2013 Launch Party.

"Things have been phenomenal — crazy good," said Valerie Toomey of Jeanneau. "I would say that there have been less people, but we have had non-stop traffic of very serious prospects and buyers. We are selling boats that don't even exist yet."

"Sales are beyond expectations," said Dan Nardo of Annapolis Yacht Sales, who was working at the Beneteau exhibit. "I expect to beat my goal and then some. People came to buy. I spent my time discussing options rather than sales."

The Moorings Yacht and Charter Co. reported that Caribbean bookings for the American market were up 25 percent from last year. "It was surprising how good the charter traffic was, despite the weather," said Phil Swaun, northeast regional manager for New Coast Financial Services.

Jimmy Spithill, captain of Oracle Team USA and winner of the America's Cup, was honored at the Launch Party on opening night.

At the event, the Sailboat Show and Sail America announced the creation of the Sailing Industry Distinguished Service Award to recognize an individual who has made an outstanding and unselfish contribution to the sailing industry. The award, which is expected to be given annually, will be handed out on the opening day of the show in 2014.

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