Framed by a picture-perfect early December weekend, the St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show, the largest in-water boat show on Florida’s Gulf Coast, drew impressive crowds, especially on opening day, with overall attendance for the four days up 5 percent from 2015.
Organizers said the total number of boats on display in the water and on land increased by 18 percent, made up entirely of new boats. On land, exhibit space increased by 9 percent. The show’s continued growth made this the biggest year in the history of the event.
The show ran from Dec. 1-4 at the Duke Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin and Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“It was an excellent show that attracted high-quality traffic on [Dec. 1 and 2], and then [Dec. 3] was a very busy day for us,” International Marine Group president Mark LaPrade said.
LaPrade’s display included boats from 22 to 45 feet from brands that included Formula, Stamas, Century, Blackjack and Concept. International Marine Group has been an exhibitor at the show since 1984.
“We wrote six contracts at the show and have multiple sea trials scheduled in the coming week,” he said.
The 39th annual St. Petersburg show included hundreds of top-name powerboats, sailboats, the latest in marine electronics and accessories and special events and educational activities for all ages, interests and experience levels. Drawing much fanfare this year was the ICON A5 light sport amphibian aircraft.
“We’re seeing the St. Pete boat show get better year over year, with attendees making buying decisions at the show,” said Chris Erickson of Erickson Marine, which had six boats on display from Contender and Nor-Tech from 25 to 39 feet.
“We took a deposit on a 39 NorTech on [Dec. 3] from a buyer who attended on [Dec. 1] and came back, and have good leads on all the boats we had on display. Dec. 3 and 4] were busy, and we met with many people who are looking to buy very soon.”
Beyond the main boating attractions, the show offered daily seminars, sailing clinics and entertainment, including children’s fishing clinics by Hook The Future, Sail America’s Discover Sailing Series and Cruising Seminars sponsored by Cruising Outpost and Harken.
“This show has transformed from a small boat show into a regional boating lifestyle event that’s now attracting many different types of boaters and like-minded enthusiasts,” Dane Graziano, senior vice president and COO of Show Management, the company that owns and produces the show, said in a statement.
“Many exhibitors continue to expand their presence to attract more and more buyers who are back on the docks ready to deal. This show has become a must-attend event for most Gulf Coast-based boating businesses.”
The show was sponsored by Budweiser, Gosling’s, Discover Sailing, Sail America, Sail magazine and Hook The Future.
Show Management and Soundings Trade Only are owned by Active Interest Media.