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Newport Show Organizers Report Record-Breaking Attendance

With cooler temperatures, the docks were busy all weekend.

With cooler temperatures, the docks were busy all weekend.

The Newport International Boat Show, which ran Sept. 13-16 on Commercial Wharf in Newport R.I., drew crowds during a break in the heat that New England had endured for most of the summer. Organizers don’t give attendance numbers, but this year’s show included more than 400 boats in the water and 600 exhibitors.

“We had record-breaking attendance and picture-perfect weather,” says show director Nancy Piffard. “Post-show reports from exhibitors and sponsors indicated strong in-show sales and hot leads.”

Bertram chose the Newport show to debut its 61-foot convertible. “Newport was great because it was the first time we ever showed the 61 to the masses,” says Bertram CEO Peter Truslow. “We’ve been to fishing tournaments and owners’ events, and it was well received in small groups. Newport was very crowded — the boat was overrun.”

Truslow’s only regret is that the company didn’t have a 35 to display. “The rule is the boat you don’t have is the boat everybody is asking about,” Truslow says. “The dealer had just sold his the month prior, so we didn’t have a 35 to sell.”

Robin Brendle, annex sales manager for HCB Center Console Yachts, says the new annex in Staten Island Yacht Sales provided an impressive lineup of boats. “It was fun to watch the jaws drop and hear the comments when customers walked up to the 53 Sueños,” Brendle says. “I had a number of customers tell me they thought it was the hit of the show.

“We also had tons of people asking about the new 65 Estrella,” Brendle adds. “The boat made a tour from the Florida Keys all the way up the East Coast, and many were able to physically see it while it was here.”

EdgeWater Power Boats’ northeastern regional sales manager, Jay Bentley, says the company gathered solid leads at the show. “The weather was perfect, and the traffic was heavy, with the exception of Thursday’s washout,” which largely took place before the show opened, Bentley says.

Boston Whaler doubled its unit volume sales compared with last year’s show and quadrupled dollars versus the 2017 show, says East Coast business manager Doug Nettles.

Imtra president Eric Braitmayer was among several exhibitors talking about the impact of trade tariffs. “So far, the only product that has been impacted has been a certain model of wiper motor,” Braitmayer says. “Funny thing is, much of the componentry is built in Korea, but the assembly is in mainland China, so it falls under the tariffs. We are still researching how other products will be affected.”

This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue.

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