NEW YORK — The New York Boat Show might not be as large as it was during its heyday, but the crowds were steady and buyers were plentiful as the oldest North American boat show entered its 112th year.
The show’s dates this year — Jan. 25-29 — helped draw throngs to the Javits Center in Manhattan. For years, the show had grappled with dates that fell close to New Year’s Day, which challenged it to draw buyers.
“It was steady yesterday,” Bruce Parker, with MarineMax in Sea Ray’s large and busy booth, told Trade Only on Friday. “It was better on Wednesday; today is already three times better than the first two days.”
Parker looked on as crowds waited to board the 460 Fly, one of the larger boats in the show.
“It’s a good show,” said Paul Mahoney, with Azimut Yachts. “It’s a good crowd.”
Larry Kaplan, who was in MarineMax’s Scout booth, said sales were up about 25 percent from the first three days of the 2016 show. Kaplan estimated that roughly a third of the show space was taken by MarineMax and its many brands.
Ryan Shapiro was on hand to give tours of Sea Ray’s new SLX-W, the company’s first foray into the wakesurf and wakeboarding market.
“This boat is really versatile, and it’s good for beginners to advanced boarders,” Shapiro said. “It’s the only boat that has a joystick for wakesurfing.”
The boat has already generated buzz, having debuted earlier this month in Atlanta, where Shapiro said the company sold a couple. It will head to Dallas and Charlotte before going on to the Miami International Boat Show, he said.
That was alongside the new 400, which Sea Ray has dubbed “The Entertainer.” It had a steady stream of traffic on Friday.
“The 400s are doing really well during their Northeast debut,” Scott Ward, senior vice president and general manager of Sea Ray, told Trade Only. “The show is going really well. The economy’s good. People are buying.”
Ben Dorton, who founded the wakeboarding boat brand Heyday, was at the show to explain the features of the brand, which Bayliner bought in 2016.
“We’ve had a lot of online traffic,” Dorton said. “A lot of people are coming up to me and saying, ‘I saw you on social media; I came to see the boat in person.’ ”
Dorton stood next to a screen showing a video of Bayliner president Keith Yunger wakeboarding behind the boat.
“Now that we’ve got an increased budget, we’ve been able to add some good content on social media,” Dorton said.
Being part of Bayliner has helped the brand increase its distribution. It has grown from about 35 dealers to 100.
“We plan on broadening out the model line and increasing the model mix,” Dorton said.
Frank Gunteski, in a separate Scout booth (also part of MarineMax), had just sold a 255 Dorado. “It’s been a very good show,” Gunteski said. “All of our shows — Cleveland, Dallas, and Houston — have been up. The economy is good. People are assuming luxury goods are going to be in fashion.”
Don Ditzel, who sells Regulators at Comstock Yacht Sales and Marine in Brick, N.J., and is president of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey, said a sales tax change has helped spark sales.
“It went down to 50 percent of the overall sales tax and was capped at $20,000, and it’s about to go down again,” Ditzel said. “The way it was written is that boat taxes are half of the sales tax, and that’s going down from 7 percent to 6.85 percent in 2018.”
Check out a CBS news spot with highlights from the show: