Norwalk Boat Show opens today

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The Formula 380 SSC is making its debut at the Norwalk Show at noon.

The Formula 380 SSC is making its debut at the Norwalk Show at noon.

The Progressive Insurance Norwalk Cove Boat Show in Norwalk, Conn., opens today. Over 300 boats, plus engines and equipment, are on display. Exhibitors are generally optimistic going into the show.

“I think this will be a good measure, but I’m expecting a good show,” Scott Porter, Formula Boats president, told Trade Only Today. “I believe the marketplace is off a little bit, but off compared to where we’ve been is still pretty good.”

Formula Boats will launch its new 380 Super Sport Crossover at Norwalk today. Porter said the

company chose to roll its new model at Norwalk because of the target market for the boat. While most of the company’s recent introductions in the SSC series have been outboard powered, the 380 SSC has twin stern drives. He said boaters on large, freshwater lakes have been asking for a stern drive boat. Formula wanted to show the boat in New England, where there are also many freshwater lakes.

“On freshwater, the boating lifestyle is somewhat different,” Porter said. “They do a lot of rafting up and swim to cool off and they want the open swim platform.”

Like other boats in the SSC series, the 380 will be available with outboards as well. Formula plans to have that version available in the spring. “You make a commitment to do the same boat, but you can’t do the same bottom,” said Porter. “The CG is slightly different and the transom shifts aft, so there are little changes that have to be made.”

Formula will have 11 boats on display at the show, which runs through Sunday.

Grand Banks Yachts is another exhibitor with positive expectations. It is showing the Palm Beach 50 and Palm Beach 52 models. Company vice president Peter Truslow said the southern Connecticut event is important because it’s held in a “very important boating region with lots of affluent customers.” He told Trade Only Today: “We’re focused on the highest end of the market, and Norwalk has always been a fun show to sell into. It has a combination of trailerable-boat buyers and fishermen but there are some very high-end yacht buyers coming to the show.”

Grand Banks also exhibited four boats at the Newport Show last week. Truslow called the show “excellent,” noting strong traffic moving through the company’s booth. “My sense is that people are still very actively buying boats, both new and used,” he said. “We have a bunch of deals that we are working as a result of the show, and expect to close several in the coming week.”

The Norwalk show is run by the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

This year’s show also includes Boating Career Day with the Connecticut Marine Trades Association. It showcases different jobs in the boating industry as possible career paths for local students. It has expanded into a two-day event. For the first time, the Norwalk show is also hosting a marine industry job fair, today and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Rex Boating Club and Carefree Boat Club of Southern Connecticut are also offering free boat rides. 

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