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Lauderdale show boosted by weekend attendance

Weekend attendance at the 53rd annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show was "near record-breaking," according to show organizers.

The show wrapped up on a high note with sunshine and warm weather after some stormy weather during the first two days of the five-day event.

“We were selling boats during the hurricane Thursday and Friday,” Intrepid COO Mark Beaver told Soundings Trade Only at the show, which ran Oct. 25-29.

He wasn’t alone.

Several exhibitors reported serious buyers, qualified leads and closed deals during the first two days, despite the weather, while the weekend attracted near record-breaking attendance.

"After being down 30 percent during the first two days because of Hurricane Sandy, attendance was very strong the last three days and finished down just 2 percent from last year for the show overall," Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III, CEO of show manager and producer Show Management, said in a statement.

Show Management is owned by Active Interest Media, the publisher of several marine titles, including Soundings Trade Only.

The number of boats in the water was up 10 percent, with new boats up 14 percent and brokerage up 4 percent, Zimbalist said. Boats under 80 feet were particularly strong, up 13 percent from 2011, as were brokerage boats over 126 feet, which were 15 percent ahead of last year.

Several builders and suppliers told Soundings Trade Only that despite the weather, Thursday and Friday saw the highest sales of the show.

“I think Thursday was possibly our best day, despite the weather,” Grand Banks Yachts brand and marketing director David Hensel told Trade Only.

"This year's Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show was the best in years," Cigarette Racing Team LLC president and CEO Skip Braver said in a statement. "We did business from the opening day through the close. The High Performance Dock, located just outside the entrance tents, was packed with people and Cigarette gave them a lot of variety. It was a very good show."

"We broke all sales records and launched several products, including the Yacht Controller Joystick, the Yacht Phone and the Yacht GraphX products," Yacht Controller LLC president Gerald Berton said in a statement. "We enjoyed a great show in spite of the weather, making this the best FLIBS ever for us."

Zane Schwenk, regional sales and marketing manager for MasterCraft’s southeast territories, told Trade Only that the crowd was stronger than it had been in years.

"This was our best show in three years," Cable Marine’s George Cable said in a statement. “We saw real customers this year, some of which showed up at our boatyard just two days after the show closed."

"We appreciate all the support from all the hard-working people at Show Management that helped make FLIBS a success," Christensen Shipyards CEO Joe Foggia said. "From what we have experienced in recent months and the inquiries we are getting after the show, we are encouraged that the industry as a whole is rebounding."

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— Reagan Haynes

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