Tampa Boat Show opens today

The Progressive Tampa Boat Show opened with a record VIP reception at the on-water portion of the show Thursday night.
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The show will have more than 275 boats and exhibits in land and on the water at the Tampa Convention Center.

The show will have more than 275 boats and exhibits in land and on the water at the Tampa Convention Center.

The Progressive Tampa Boat Show opened with a record VIP reception at the on-water portion of the show Thursday night and the full show starts today with sold-out exhibition space at the Tampa Convention Center for the first time since the Great Recession.

The in-water portion of the show also has grown this year, with dealers bringing larger exhibits, according to Trade Only blogger Norm Schultz, who visited the reception Thursday night. More than 275 boats and exhibits will be on land and in the water, according to show producer the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

West Marine is conducting hands-on, in-water kayaking experiences. Boats in the water are as large as 60 feet.

New and past favorite attractions designed to drive traffic to the show include the Progressive Insurance Boat School, Try It Cove, Fred’s Shed interactive learning center and Discover Boating hands-on skills training.

Thunder Marine dealer Steve Wacker told the Tampa Bay Times that boats now are more versatile than ever to appeal to the growing needs of families.

"This is really like an SUV on the water," Wacker said of the new 28 XS from Nautic Star. "This is going to be a real marriage-saver."

"Being a father with two young daughters and still having a hard-core fishing habit, it was hard finding a boat that did not lean too much one way or the other," Wacker said. "But this boat has plenty of forward seating, a sun pad for cruising, but when the boys are ready to hit it, the 600 horsepower and 200-gallon fuel tank lets me hit the Middle Grounds and still be home for dinner."

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