Newport show organizers give promotional tour

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A passing sailboat reveals the beauty of the Newport shoreline.

A passing sailboat reveals the beauty of the Newport shoreline.

NEWPORT, R.I. — The producers of the annual Newport International Boat Show are getting an early jump on spreading the word about the Sept. 11-14 event.

The Newport Exhibition Group, which produces both the fall show and the annual Charter Yacht Show in June — with the public relations firm Rushton Gregory Communications — hosted marine, travel and destination journalists Wednesday at the Castle Hill Inn for a day exploring the historic port city.

“Newport is a quintessential New England city and there’s no other show like the Newport International Boat Show,” said Rus Graham, a principal at Rushton Gregory.

“Last year we had 40,000 people attend the show. That’s about 40 percent of the attendance at the Miami shows.”

Graham said organizers anticipate that 45,000 people will attend this year’s show, which is also distinguished by its 60 percent to 40 percent mix of powerboats versus sailboats.

“Because it’s considered the unofficial kickoff of the boat show season, companies are increasingly bringing their new products to the show. Last year, we had 47 product introductions,” Graham said.

The intimate layout of the city also lends itself to “blurring the lines” between the show and the town, he added. “You can easily walk out of the show and find yourself a nice restaurant.”

Tony Bessinger (left), of Confident Captain, shows a journalist how he gives people new to boating some basic lessons.

Tony Bessinger (left), of Confident Captain, shows a journalist how he gives people new to boating some basic lessons.

The show continues to expand its “At The Helm” program to introduce potential buyers to the boating lifestyle by allowing them to get out on a variety of power and sail boats skippered by professional captains from the local Confident Captain training program.

Journalists were treated to an hour on Newport Harbor aboard a Hinckley, a Cobia and a Key West, where basic lessons used to put new boaters at ease were demonstrated.

“I like getting people on the water to show them it’s not as intimidating as they might think,” said Tony Bessinger of Confident Captain.

The journalists also toured the city’s famed waterfront mansions from the comfort of new Jaguar XJLs.

About 80 percent of exhibitor space has been sold for the show, which is in its 44th year.

The Newport Exhibition Group is a subsidiary of  Newport Harbor Corporation.

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