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U.S. Powerboat Show reports exhibitor-space and attendance gains

Despite rain and flooding the four-day United States Powerboat Show in Annapolis saw a 17.3 percent bump in exhibitor space and a 4.8 percent increase in attendance last weekend and $250,000 was raised for hurricane relief.

Exhibitors reported high sales volumes despite lesser attendance on Thursday and Friday because of the weather. Organizers said Saturday’s attendance was the largest in the history of the powerboat show and Sunday afternoon was very busy.

"We have returned to the glory days of Annapolis powerboat shows. Not only has the size of the show grown by 30 percent over the past two years, attendance has now eclipsed all previous years of the last decade," said Paul Jacobs, president and general manager of Annapolis Boat Shows, in a statement. "Everyone involved stepped up the quality and size of their displays and presented a brand new and improved look to a very large consumer audience."

Annapolis Boat Shows launched "Hands Across the Transom Hurricane Relief" as a community effort that included more than two dozen exhibitors, many like-minded Annapolis businesses and hundreds of boaters who came together to raise funds for hurricane relief.

More than $250,000 was raised to support the portion of the maritime industry that hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the hardest.

The show featured an entirely new tented arena structure covering two large city parking lots; expanded floating docks; 30,000 square feet of new land space; a floating pavilion for the LH Finance-sponsored VIP Red Carpet Lounge; and 573 boats from around the world.

"Despite uncooperating weather, we saw a 40 percent increase in deals written at the show, with lots of deals still in the works," said Bryan Braley of Grande Yachts International. “Overall it was the best show in this region that we have been part of in the past five years.”

Tents featured nearly 500 vendors displaying marine products and lifestyle items.

John Riccardi, of Hat Trick Embroidery, said he had his "best show in 10 years."

Water taxis ferried attendees between the docks of the main show and nearby Brokerage Cove, home to 55 used boats.

"Brokerage Cove was great as usual, and despite the rain we saw a strong Friday-through-Sunday crowd. We expect to set up a nice run of closed deals in the next several weeks," said Marc Benvenuto of Knot 10 Yacht Sales.

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