WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. —The 30th annual Palm Beach International Boat Show opened Thursday with a record number of boats that includes surges in megayachts and boats from 40 to 60 feet.
The number of new boats on display in the water jumped 8 percent from last year, Show Management CEO Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III told about 70 members of the press and marine industry at a media briefing on the first day of the show.
“Looking ahead, there’s no reason the show won’t continue to grow — the demand is there,” Zimbalist said. “The selection of boats in terms of quality and quantity rivals any show in the world.”
Zimbalist said there are more megayachts at this year’s show than ever before and the number of boats from 40 to 60 feet jumped by 17 percent from last year. “We’re seeing growth in this segment of smaller boats … and that’s what we need for the health of the industry long-term," he said. (Four years ago the megayacht segment was added to the show in partnership with Palm Harbor Marina.)
The four-day event, which runs through Sunday, showcases 632 boats in the water, including 80 yachts of more than 100 feet and 60 boats from 80 to 90 feet, Zimbalist said. Plus, there has been a spike of 15 to 20 percent in the number of boats on display on land, with a total of 400 boats from 10 to 38 feet, he added.
The largest yacht and second-largest in the history of the Palm Beach show is a 200-foot 2010 Lurssen, the Aurora.
“The show has grown in size every year except for 2009 — it was down by about a third — but it grew every year before that and since then,” Zimbalist said. “We are now the biggest we’ve ever been — by a lot.”
The show’s international appeal has grown.
“Five years ago we changed the name and added ‘International’ to the Palm Beach Boat Show, recognizing our desire and growing attraction of the show to the international market,” Zimbalist said. “We have in this show yachts from England, from Italy, from Germany, from Spain, from Turkey, from China, as well as the great boats built here.”
The event this year also featured expanded activities.
“We are always looking to make the show more engaging,” Zimbalist said.
He mentioned that AquaZone — presented by the Nautical Ventures Marine Superstore — is being held for the first time, with a 60-foot by 40-foot demonstration pool with in-water demos and hands-on testing of paddleboards, kayaks and other water-sports products.
Another nuance: on-water training. Presented by Coast Guard-licensed captains who are certified instructors from the Powerboat Academy of Florida, the one- and three-hour workshops teach close-quarters maneuvering, anchoring and open-water boat handling. They cost $20 in advance ($25 at the show) for one-hour and $99 in advance ($125 at the show) for three-hour courses.
The Palm Beach show is owned and sponsored by the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County and organized by Fort Lauderdale-based Show Management. Active Interest Media is the parent company of Show Management and Soundings Trade Only.
Chuck Collins, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, and Jeri Muoio, the mayor of the city of West Palm Beach, also spoke at the gathering.