A Tampa bonus: in-water demos

For the first time, the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference will have dock space for on-water exhibits and demonstrations.
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For the first time, the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference will have dock space for on-water exhibits and demonstrations.

“One of the reasons we selected the Tampa Convention Center was the easy access to the water,” says IBEX show director Anne Dunbar. “To take advantage of our waterfront location, participants in at least two of our seminars will leave their classroom and go outside to learn live, aboard the boats, as part of their session. We expect the IBEX docks to be very active.” More than 15 companies, including propulsion manufacturers, electronics manufacturers, and helm and steering manufacturers, have secured slips with boats, Dunbar says.

Honda will be showcasing its new iST (Intelligent Shift and Throttle) system on two boats at IBEX — a Yellowfin with triple Honda BF250s and a 23-foot Everglades with a single BF250, Honda Marine senior manager Mark DiPietro says. “We fully intend to utilize this opportunity to showcase products at IBEX,” he says. “This is going to make it a much more valuable venue, in my mind. It’s a business-to-business show, and that’s not going to change, of course, but it gives you a whole extra dimension in what you can bring and show. You can have people — your business partners and the people you are looking to start new ventures with — experience the product. So we’re pretty excited to have some boats on the water.”

SeaStar Solutions will have a boat in the water featuring the company’s Optimus 360 joystick docking system with triple outboards. “There’s just no substitute for taking control of a boat on the water using a joystick and experiencing the maneuverability in real time,” says Rick Hauser, a spokesman for the company. “They are looking forward to the opportunity to spend quality time on the water with boatbuilders. The atmosphere should be a little less frenetic than one finds at the consumer boat shows, like Miami.”

In addition to SeaStar’s convention center and on-water displays, the company has contributed its Optimus electronic steering to The Connected Boat display, he says. “This interactive display should be of keen interest to builders who are looking at ways of incorporating the latest in technology and electronics in their new models,” Hauser says.

Honda’s iST should work well on larger boats with three or four outboards, DiPietro says. The company has yet to introduce its own helm joystick control. “The joystick is what would logically follow next, but we at Honda are pretty tight-lipped about the development of new product,” he says. “We are always looking for what technology is next, and I know once you have the electronic throttle and shift, [the joystick] is the next logical step.”

Eckerd College Search and Rescue will perform a live demonstration of techniques that the non-profit student group employs. Using specially equipped vessels, the team will perform in-water rescue practices, firefighting, righting an overturned vessel and dewatering a sinking vessel. “We will have three rescue boats involved in our maneuvers,” Ryan Dilkey, coordinator of St. Petersburg, Fla.-based EC-SAR, says. “These boats are used on a daily basis to do their job, so I am taking my existing fleet to Tampa.”

Dilkey aims to “introduce our existence — or the fact that we’ve been in existence for 43 years, serving the boaters of our area,” he says. “It is a unique program, the only one of its kind in the nation. This opportunity is going to give us a prime-time location to show [ourselves to] a targeted audience that not only builds the equipment we use, but also impacts the people we assist.”

The program can be used to identify the key causes of some boating accidents. “If these problems [that lead to accidents] can be identified, then maybe equipment and boats can be somehow tweaked in the manufacturer design and build process,” Dilkey says. “When a boat takes on water, what caused it to begin taking on water? Did the systems keep up with it, and if not, why? Was the bilge pump too small? Did the float switch fail? Did the boater not know that the manual switch would turn it on?”

The group has done this type of demonstration at local boat shows but never for an audience packed with marine industry experts and business leaders, Dilkey says. The group will use a 23-foot Century, a 19-foot Noresafe and a drill boat.

Exhibitors that will be at the in-water portion of IBEX:


• JL Audio

• Veedims

• Eckerd College

• Yamaha

• Nauticus

• Ocean LED

• Uflex USA

• JL Marine Systems

• Torqeedo

• Honda

• Simrad-Navico

• Lowrance-Navico

• Iris Innovation USA

• Volvo Penta

• Elco Motor Yachts

• SeaStar Solutions

• Mercury Marine

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue.