It’s showtime in Lauderdale

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The big boat show takes over the city during its annual run.

The big boat show takes over the city during its annual run.

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is known for its ever-expanding offerings and show footprint and the 55th edition is no exception, with seven venues spread across the city of Fort Lauderdale from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. The newest addition is Pier 66, which will enable the display of more yachts, including superyachts as large as 200 feet, and sea trials, says Active Interest Media CEO Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III. AIM owns the show’s producer, Show Management, and Soundings Trade Only.

“Pier 66 marina is brand-new. We haven’t had it since 2008 or 2009,” Zimbalist says. “So far, we have 12 yachts over 100 feet that will be on display there and lots of smaller ones. One of the cool things about Pier 66 is we will be able to be offer sea trials. So we’re not going to block them in, we’re going to let them maneuver, so that will be great.”

The site — which will feature brokerage yachts — is accessible by water taxi and by buses that run from the convention center and the Bahia Mar locations, he says. Exhibitors include Burger yachts, the Fort Lauderdale broker International Yacht Collection, Edmiston Yachts, Fraser Yachts and the Robert J. Cury yacht brokerage.

“They knocked down the marina from the 1950s and built a brand new, state-of-the-art marina,” says Show Management senior vice president and chief operating officer Andrew Doole. “So not only is it added back into the show, but it’s a brand-new marina, which will enhance the show. It’s another opportunity for us to accommodate some very large yachts.”

On a typical day, the docks are crowded with potential boat buyers choosing from a virtually limitless selection.

On a typical day, the docks are crowded with potential boat buyers choosing from a virtually limitless selection.

The mixed-use marina likely will feature yachts between 60 and 200 feet, Doole says. Visitors will have access to restaurants that include Pelican Landing for casual dining and drinks and the upscale Grille 66 & Bar for fine dining. Pier 66 Marina will be accessible via shuttle bus (Green Line) and/or water taxi.

Other locations include the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel & Yachting Center, the Hall of Fame Marina, the Las Olas Municipal Marina, the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, Sails Marina and the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

In late August, Doole said exhibitor sales were good. “We’re running way ahead of last year. There are lots of new exhibitors, a whole list of them.” Notably, some new European builders are coming to an American show for the first time.

It's known as a selling show and on-the-spot deals are not uncommon.

It's known as a selling show and on-the-spot deals are not uncommon.

Turkish Sunrise Yachts will bring a 140-foot motoryacht to the show. The company is building a yacht for John Staluppi, owner of the 200-foot Benetti and former show queen Diamonds are Forever, Doole says. “This will be the first time they’ve ever had a boat in the show.”

Italian company Admiral Tecnomar will have two new yachts at the show — a 130-footer and a 145. “It’s the first time they’ve ever had boats in a U.S. show,” Doole says.

A noteworthy vessel slated to make her appearance at Sails Marina is the 210-foot Perini Navi yacht Felicita West, dubbed the world’s largest aluminum sailing yacht. It just went through a $5 million refit from Rybovich Marina and is being sold by Northrop & Johnson. “The water is extremely deep at Sails Marina, so that location can accommodate large yachts,” Doole says.

Plenty of premieres

Those are in addition to “a huge amount of premieres in the 80- to 120-foot range,” Doole says. There are dozens of premieres in every size range, from Viking’s new 92 — the largest yacht in the company’s 50-year fleet — to a new 38-foot Monterey, Zimbalist says.

“Fortunately, a lot of people do premiere product at this show,” Doole says.

The Viking 92 Enclosed Bridge Convertible, which the company says is the largest resin-infused sportfishing convertible hull in the world, will headline the event for Viking, says Pete Frederiksen of Viking Yachts.

“Two of them have sold already, believe it or not,” he says. Those two are closed bridges, but the company will offer an open-bridge option, too. “We thought, based on the size of the boat, that people would gravitate toward closed rather than open bridge, but we’re offering both.”

Also premiering is the Viking 75 Motor Yacht, representing a strategic milestone in Viking’s 50-plus-year history as it returns to this segment of the marine market. It features Caterpillar power and the new Cat Three60 Precision Control system.

Most motoryachts in that range have open bridges, but “we’ve been really successful with the closed bridge convertible. It acts like second salon, with seating and entertainment. And we wanted to have something different,” Frederiksen says.

The company’s third introduction is the Viking 52 Sport Tower, a MAN-powered hybrid that excels at offshore fishing and comfortable cruising with a three-stateroom layout, a three-sided fiberglass deckhouse with concealed overhead rod stowage and a mezzanine with dual seating in the 142-square-foot teak-planked cockpit. “A lot of people are interested in that size,” Frederiksen says.

“Viking’s always coming out with new things,” he says “It’s something that we pride ourselves in doing. Whether it’s resin infusion, new power or new designs, people like that. They like new things, and we just have a backlog of boats to build now, which is good. Even with these new models that are coming out, there’s a lot of interest. We’re pretty upbeat about the Fort Lauderdale show.”

Ken Clinton, who runs Intrepid Boats, says he is moving his display around for the show. Intrepid will debut its Panacea 475 there, having sold one this summer with four Seven Marine 557-hp V8 outboards, the highest-horsepower outboard-powered boat it has sold. “We’ve built about eight so far,” Clinton says. “We just built one for Enrique Iglesias.”

Big boats and their luxury amenities are a staple of the show, which always attracts a fleet of superyachts.

Big boats and their luxury amenities are a staple of the show, which always attracts a fleet of superyachts.

Hatteras will debut its 45 EX, displaying two distinct configurations of the boat at the show. The first will be fully rigged for tournament-style sportfishing and the second has features and amenities that the company says are geared for the cruising lifestyle.

A selling show

For Intrepid, Viking and many others, Fort Lauderdale is an imperative and is known as a selling show.

“For that boat show, we’ll average around $9 million in new sales,” Clinton says. “The main two shows are FLIBS and Miami. Usually we do around the same amount of sales in each one.”

Intrepid reaped $9.5 million in sales at last year’s Fort Lauderdale show, followed by sales of $20 million in Miami. “We didn’t really expect it,” he says. “I think the success of the latest boat, the 47 Panacea, was part of that. It’s the largest center console we’ve ever done. Also, Fort Lauderdale for us is a tender show because all the megayachts are there. We continue to be the tender of choice for the megayachts.”

Frederiksen says thousands of people register at the Viking display at FLIBS each year. “It’s not uncommon to have several thousand come through our display during the course of a show or a thousand in a single day,” he says.

“We look forward to this show because we know our owners are coming. We know our buyers are coming. We know we’re going to sell boats at these shows, and that helps us schedule our production for the entire year,” Frederiksen says. “That’s very important for us to be able to accurately order supplies, engines and do what we need to do. Lauderdale has always been a very good show for us, and it’s a bang-up event.”

Aquazone

New offerings at the show will include Aquazone, a 25-by-50-foot, 15,000-gallon swimming pool at the front of the convention center.

“The convention center is getting very exciting,” Show Management organizer John Nigro says. “The up-to-50-foot range of boats is very popular, it’s very strong, it’s coming back and a lot of the people that are purchasing those products are very much into fishing and diving and paddleboarding and canoeing and kayaking and all of these water sports that fall into a category called the Aquazone. We’ve got everybody lined up to come in Thursday through Monday … to do seminars and live displays and demonstrations in the pool.”

The demonstrations and seminars will include paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking and diving and will be open to the public, Nigro says.

Organizers hope the events will lure a younger demographic, Zimbalist says. “These are designed to attract entry-level boaters, and a younger audience — people just starting out their marine enjoyment,” he says. “We’re very excited to have that.”

“This area, when you come into the show, is no charge,” Nigro says. “You can go up to the pool and enjoy all the seminars and demos every day. You can watch a live demo, and if you want to take part, by all means.”

The demos will include paddleboard yoga, an activity that recently has gained traction, and dive demos for people with disabilities, as well as hovercrafts, Nigro says. “My goal is to take the convention center to the next level every year,” he says.

Aquazone also will be a feature at the Palm Beach International Boat Show next March and at additional future shows organized by Show Management.

Unusual attractions

A new IGFA Sportfishing Lounge inside the convention center rwill offer free fishing, diving and boating seminars and workshops for fishermen taught by some of the area’s most noted captains and anglers, Zimbalist says. “That will include Hook the Future, for kids.”

Crew Unlimited’s Yachtie Da Film Festival will feature Guy Harvey Ocean Conservancy films and trailers from this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, Zimbalist says.

“Crew Unlimited encourages crews of yachts to take films, little documentaries, to send in, and they judge the best films,” Zimbalist says. “We’ll be showing clips of their films, and a selection of clips from the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, which occurs later in November,” along with Guy Harvey footage.

French aircraft manufacturer Dassault will be showing its Falcon 5X corporate jet model (which reportedly has a price tag of about $45 million) at the Hall of Fame, Zimbalist says. A Triton submarine will be on display on the face dock, as well.

Other new and notable offerings include:

• Grabbing a bite to eat at the show’s new full-service pop-up restaurant, Hugh’s Café, operated by Hugh’s Culinary, at the Hall of Fame Marina. The concept is designed to offer another dining option for guests and a place for industry professionals to meet and conduct business.

• Catching the Hook The Future kids’ fishing clinics, where youngsters get a free rod/reel combo and plenty of other prizes.

• Checking out the expanded Blue Wild area, which will feature scuba and free diving, lobstering and safety seminars, a huge selection of marine art and the all-new JYPSEA Swimwear Show.

• Ogling the exotic auto display, a private jet, personal submarines and the latest yacht and water toys.

• People-watching at the show’s floating cocktail lounges.

• Exploring nearly $4 billion worth of boats and products across more than 3 million square feet of exhibit space, including clothing, gear, electronics, accessories and more.

• Hopping a ride aboard free riverboats and $10 all-day water taxi transportation. The show’s seven locations are connected by a land and water transportation network.

• Watching the fireworks display on opening night at the Bahia Mar Marina.

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue.

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