The Providence Boat Show, which runs from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 at the Rhode Island Convention Center, is showcasing a new look this year under its new owner — the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association.
The powerboats, outboard engines and fishing equipment that have been a staple of the show will return, but change comes with what has been added: more sailboats, more activities and an area where attendees can learn to surf on dry land.
“When RIMTA purchased this show, we knew it was a perfect way to showcase our marine industry, but we set out to do something more, to create an indoor expo that showcases our shoreline and all the ways it can be enjoyed from the water side,” RIMTA CEO Wendy Mackie said in a statement. “The Providence Boat Show will deliver a great experience: it is the closest you can get to our New England coast, without water.”
RIMTA purchased the Providence Boat Show in the fall.
Newport native and America’s Cup winner Rome Kirby will help open the new iteration of the 20-year-old event when he visits the show on opening day at 5 p.m. and receives the RIMTA Boater of the Year Award. Kirby also will be at the show from noon to 2 p.m. the following day to meet young boaters at the new H20 Zone and the Boats Work for Rhode Island centers.
Attendees will see the 22-foot J/70 sportboat, designed and marketed by J/Boats of Newport. The boat is less than two years old, but show organizers said 19 fleets have been established in the United States and some J/70s have been sold internationally.
RIMTA debuts its Show Pavilion this year, an area where visitors can learn about sea-to-table cuisine from Rhode Island chefs at the Ocean House in Watch Hill, the Matunuck Oyster Bar in South Kingstown and the Blaze Restaurant in Providence.
The pavilion also will offer an update on Rhode Island’s Tall Ship Oliver Hazard Perry and give visitors a chance to meet local author John Fulweiler, who captured the story of a man overboard in his book “A Swim.”
Show-goers also can try surfing on dry land with instructors from FloorTime Studios in Middletown.