NEWPORT, R.I. — The Newport International Boat Show opened Thursday during a well-attended VIP day that took place on a breezy, yet warm late summer day and with enthusiastic crowds.
The show’s largest installation since 2009 featured several new-boat debuts, including a massive 72-foot Hunt, a 42-foot Chris Craft Commander and a 32-foot Back Cove.
“Opening day of the 46th annual Newport Boat Show was a success,” show director Nancy Pfiffard said. “Attendance was great, the docks were full, exhibitors were delighted with the turnout and the weather made for a perfect New England day.”
Several exhibitors and attendees could be heard on the docks saying how thankful they were that the enduring streak of heat and humidity in the Northeast had broken and given way to more autumnal weather.
VIP events that were closed to the press and public were filled with prior owners and people who were looking to buy at the show.
“I love this show. The energy is fabulous,” said Sabre and Back Cove marketing and sales vice president Bentley Collins. “We were the first Down East builder to move to this section of the show, which used to be the sailboat section. We’re right here next to the entrance, and it’s a great spot.”
Collins said serious shoppers had been out in full force.
“Thursday of this show is always strong,” he said. “This year the foot traffic seems up, and the quality of attendee is strong. There are a lot of interested buyers; that is typical of a Newport Thursday. It’s been all positive.”
MarineMax had 24 boats in the water — including the new Azimut 40 Verve and the Polish Galeon boats, which were making their Northeast debut — and had eight more participating in the Confident Captain At the Helm program.
“We have $30 million worth of boats at this show,” said Larry Russo, who recently merged his dealership with MarineMax. That included the new 25-foot Boston Whaler Outrage, the Sea Ray 400 Fly and the Sea Ray 460 Sundancer.
“Having Boston Whaler participate in the Confident Captain program, we have even more Whalers at the docks,” Russo said. “And the beauty is, people get to experience those Whalers that are in the program.”
The Confident Captain program encourages families and individuals to sign up for on-water courses to build skills and confidence.
The objective is ultimately to convert these boaters into future buyers. The program expanded its offerings this year to include more courses designed for women and youths.
All of the classes were sold out before the show opened, said Andrew Golden, who is with Rushton Gregory Communications, which handles marketing for the show.
Read more about the Newport International Boat Show in the November issue of Soundings Trade Only.