This year proved to be a different experience for regulars at the Miami shows, with a new venue for one and a new name for what is commonly referred to as “the brokerage show” or “the Collins Avenue show.”
Cross-pollination between the Miami International Boat Show and what is now Yachts Miami Beach has been the norm since the latter show was launched 28 years ago to fill a void for both brokerage and new yachts.
The shows — the former owned by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the latter co-owned by the Florida Yacht Brokers Association and producer Show Management — again ran simultaneously from Feb. 11 to 15 in South Florida.
While everyone was adjusting to the new Virginia Key venue for the NMMA show and the logistical challenges of getting on and off the island, the Collins Avenue show may have been affected, experiencing lighter foot traffic — at least before the weekend crowds swept in.
“I think we were down a little bit. It seemed a little light,” says Show Management president Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III. “There was some confusion among attendees, which is I guess to be expected when there’s big change like we saw this year. We are working with the NMMA for a much smoother transportation system next year.”
That being the case, Yachts Miami Beach once again drew an international audience of buyers to the mile-long strip of Indian Creek Waterway from 41st Street to 54th Street along Collins Avenue.
Exhibitors say qualified clients had no trouble finding the yachts they were interested in.
Viking Yachts, like several other exhibitors, displayed at both shows — three yachts on Virginia Key for sea trials and 15 at Yachts Miami Beach.
“Foot traffic was down at Collins, but overall it was a good show, and ultimately we sold six boats at the Miami shows and four more in the weeks after,” says Viking communications director Peter Frederiksen. “Last year we sold 62 boats for the year, and we’re already ahead of that pace. We expect to sell 70 boats before our fiscal year ends in July, and all of our lines have backlogs at one year-plus.”
High-end clients who shop for Vikings remain active and engaged in 2016, he says, and the company expects that trend to continue.
Sea Ray also displayed at both shows, and it showcased 10 boats from 40 to 65 feet at Yachts Miami Beach.
Scott Ward, who was recently named senior vice president and general manager of the Sport Yacht & Yacht category for Sea Ray, says that although the docks along Collins were slower, “the quality of buyers was excellent. They knew what they wanted and where to find it.”
Sea Ray sold three boats at the show, and momentum remains “very, very strong,” says Ward. He attributes that to increased confidence among buyers, given the improving economy, strong brand loyalty and the company’s “excellent” dealer network.
“Our new product line has been refreshed, and it’s clear that new and innovative sells,” he says. “We’re continuing in our plans to invest in new-product development and bring at least a couple of new models to the market each year.”
Bentley Collins, vice president of marketing and sales for Sabre and Back Cove, also reported a strong show.
“We were lucky enough to be introducing a new design, the Sabre 66 Dirigo, and we had a long list of reservations to see the boat,” he says. “Our first three days were booked solid on board the 66, and by Sunday and Monday we finally were able to catch our breath.”
Collins agrees that the high-end buyers in the million-dollar-plus market remain willing to consider new and innovative product.
“They have exceptionally busy lives, but they are making time for their boating activities, and they are loving their on-water experiences,” Collins says.
Sabre, too, reports a solid order book for the next several years, but notes, “We do feel some restraint in the lower end of our market, where consumer confidence plays into these decisions.”
Yachts Miami Beach organizers reported an increase of 5 percent in the number of boats on display. The number of boats 104 feet and smaller rose 7 percent.
The most dramatic increase was in superyachts larger than 150 feet, which doubled to 22 this year with the addition of a superyacht location at Island Gardens Deep Harbour on Watson Island (see accompanying story).
Judging by the Miami Beach results and early indicators for the March 17-20 Palm Beach International Boat Show, the near-term future for the high-end marine market remains bright, says Zimbalist. Show Management produces both shows and is owned by Active Interest Media, which also owns Soundings Trade Only.
“There are ripples from around the world with the economies in Europe, South America and China, but despite all that I think demand in America is very, very strong, and the ultra-high-net-worth individuals who buy superyachts are still there,” he says. “I was probably more cautious a couple of months ago, but I’m more positive now that 2016 will be a good year.”
Chuck Cashman, executive vice president of sales, marketing and manufacturer relations for MarineMax, says early returns show the retail giant topped last year’s impressive numbers at the Miami shows.
“We go into every Miami show with about 100 boats, 100 team members, and we expect to sell about 100 units, and that’s what happened. It was a phenomenal show for us,” he says.
The MarineMax fleet was spread among both shows at a dozen displays.
Last year, MarineMax dealers produced $49 million in sales at the shows, he says, and that total was exceeded this year, mostly because of a clear buyer trend toward larger boats.
“I think it’s a good mood among buyers, even though we had uncertainty with the economy in January,” Cashman says. “But February started out pretty good, and the shows capped off a great month.”
MarineMax says its major brands drew increased sales and units across the board.
“Sea Ray introduced its 450 Sundancer and had a great show,” Cashman says. “We were up, especially in the big-boat sales. Azimut, Boston Whaler and Scout were all up in units and dollars.”
MarineMax also used the Miami venues to debut six boats — 38 to 56 feet — from its new Galeon line of cruising yachts built in Poland. “It’s never easy to introduce a new line, but it went well. We exceeded our sales goals, and we’re now sold out for a year,” says Cashman. “Interest in the Galeons far exceeded our expectations.”
Among brokerage firms, Denison Yacht Sales displayed at Yachts Miami Beach, at Bayside (the sailboat component of the NMMA show) and at Virginia Key.
“Overall, the show at all locations was decent, but stronger general attendance was at the Virginia Key [show],” company president Bob Denison says. “There was clearly confusion on the docks. Imagine jumping in an Uber and declaring, ‘Take me to the Miami boat show.’ The destination your driver took you to truly depended on his personal definition of ‘Miami boat show.’ ”
Denison believes the mood of today’s buyers is “generally positive,” citing improving economic indicators, easier access to loans, historically low interest rates, low fuel prices and good weather in major markets.
“The only major negative that may affect today’s mood is a polarizing political climate,” he says. “Election years are always a challenge. Each party does its very best to convince you if the other guy wins, the world will assuredly go to hell in a handbasket. Here’s to hoping none of us are in that handbasket headed for hell. I hear boat sales are terrible down there.”
David Galante is a partner in G Marine, which represents the Spanish-built Astondoa yacht line, as well as British-built Fairline Yachts, recently revived under new ownership. “At this Yachts Miami Beach show, we saw very qualified and interested clients and sold two yachts from Fairline — a 2013 48 Open and the new 53 GT that just rolled off the production line,” Galante says. “I had high hopes, and they were met.”
Other highlights of Yachts Miami Beach
- Beneteau introduced the Swift Trawler 30. It’s the fifth and smallest model in the builder’s fleet of semiplaning trawlers. The line also includes two 34-footers (flybridge and sedan), a 44 and a 50.
Beneteau also showcased its new Gran Turismo line, with the new GT40 and GT46. For the first time the builder additionally showed the Monte Carlo 6, the new flagship of the MC line, on Collins Avenue.
“Overall we are quite happy with our sales results, though attendance was significantly lower than last year, which is concerning to us,” says Maryline O’Shea, marketing director for the Americas, who saw some confusion among visitors that the new Virginia Key venue and the rebranding of the Collins Avenue show caused.
- Larry Polster, Kadey-Krogen Yachts vice president and partner, says the company soon will introduce a new 50 Open. He calls it a “true departure from any other Kadey-Krogen design.”
Like other Kadey-Krogens, the 50 Open is an ocean crosser with a full-displacement hull, Polster says. What’s different? The 50’s wide-open and continuous saloon/galley/pilothouse layout is a first for the company.
Scheduled for completion in late 2017 or early 2018, the 50 Open is a perfect match for customers “seeking an oceangoing yacht that is as social and open for a large group of people as an express-style cruiser or traditional sedan-style boat,” Polster says.
- Charter company The Moorings debuted its newest power catamaran, the 433PC. Built in collaboration with Robertson & Caine, and following the successful 514PC, the 433PC adds another option to The Moorings’ power catamaran fleet.
“The Moorings 433PC shares all the best features of our popular 514 power cat — large flybridge, spacious accommodation plan, excellent fuel consumption,” says Josie Tucci, general manager of The Moorings. “All this in a more affordable package, and with 27 percent more interior space than her predecessor, the Moorings 393PC.”
The first 433PC will begin operation at The Moorings’ flagship base in the British Virgin Islands.
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue.