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FLIBS 2011: Superyacht group marks five-year anniversary

FORT LAUDERDALE — When 11 founding members of the United States Superyacht Association joined forces, their mission was to create a unified voice for the industry in this country and promote the United States as a superyacht destination.

The group, now nearly 200 members strong, met Thursday at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to celebrate its five-year anniversary and look back on all it has accomplished in its short history.

“We’re making sure that people hear our voice,” outgoing chairman Tim Davey noted before the champagne was popped and the cake was cut. “We’re a great destination here in the United States. … Spread the word. Come and see us.”

America has the highest number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the world, the association noted. There are about 55,000 in this country and about 150,000 worldwide.

The superyacht industry brings in about $5.7 billion annually in the United States and employs about 28,000 people. About 18 percent of the world’s superyacht fleet has been built in this country, and about 10 percent of the order book is American, according to the USSA.

Some of the group’s accomplishments in the last year include:

• A nearly 40 percent growth in membership.

• Partnerships with regional marine trade groups have been strengthened.

• Developed and implemented an advocacy and marketing initiative called “Come Sea U.S.”

• Created regional board positions to represent the seven regions that support superyachts in the United States.

• Developed membership events for each region throughout the year.

• Participated for the first time in the American Boating Congress, the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s legislative conference.

    “This has truly been a milestone year for the U.S. Superyacht Association,” Davey, of ISS GMT, noted in the group’s annual report, which was distributed at the event. “As we celebrate our fifth anniversary as the only organization in the United States dedicated to the promotion and protection of the superyacht industry, I’m excited about the tremendous strides we’ve made in such a brief time.”

    USSA will meet later at the show to elect its new board, including incoming chairman John Mann of Bluewater Books & Charts.

    — Beth Rosenberg

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