U.S. Sailboat Show reports post-recession high in attendance

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Organizers said the show had the largest temporary sailboat marina in its history and land and tent spaces were bulging at the seams.

Organizers said the show had the largest temporary sailboat marina in its history and land and tent spaces were bulging at the seams.

Attendance at the United States Sailboat Show, held Oct. 5-9 in Annapolis, increased 21 percent from last year.

For 48 years the sailing industry has come to Annapolis from around the globe to show off its boats, equipment, sails, rigging and accessories to an international market at the show.

This year proved to be one of the best in the show's history, with the largest temporary sailboat marina ever, organizers said, land and tent spaces bulging at the seams and consumer spending nearing an all-time high.

Attendance numbers at the 2017 show, which took place during summer-like heat, were the best post-recession numbers the show has had.

"Historically, attendance at these shows is amazingly constant," said Paul Jacobs, president and general manger of the Annapolis Boat Shows, in a statement. "But this year's show saw a one-year increase in ticket sales of 21.5 percent. The last year to eclipse that number of paid attendees was 2008. As the economy goes, so goes the industry and our boat show.”

Organizers said the weather and boat sales were hot.

Organizers said the weather and boat sales were hot.

Of special note, in response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Annapolis Boat Shows partnered with Pusser's Caribbean Grille and the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel to host a hurricane-relief fundraiser.

The event drew more than 350 donors and kicked off a two-week fundraising campaign by many in the marine industry.

Thanks to the generous support of more than two dozen exhibitors, like-minded Annapolis businesses and hundreds of boaters, "Hands Across the Transom Hurricane Relief" and related in-show fundraising has contributed $240,000 to date. The campaign will continue through the United States Powerboat Show.

The fourth annual Annapolis Boat Shows' Sailing Industry Distinguished Service Award went to not one person, but two. Olaf and Peter Harken, founders of Harken Inc., an international manufacturer specializing in performance sailing hardware, joined prior recipients Alastair Murray, John Arndt and Margaret Podlich.

The award recognizes distinguished, continued and unselfish service to the overall advancement of the sailing industry.

The powerboat show opened Thursday with double-digit growth in display space for the second year in a row, 30,000 square feet added and all land and booth spaces sold out.

The show has nearly 550 boats: 400 in water, another 100 on land and 50 in Brokerage Cove. The show continues through Sunday.

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