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Weather hinders attendance at U.S. Powerboat Show

The weather certainly didn't help last weekend's U.S. Powerboat Show as a nor'easter bore down on the Chesapeake, bringing rain and a biting wind during all four days of the annual event.

"And, naturally, today is beautiful," Paul Jacobs, marketing manager for the show, told Soundings Trade Only this morning.

Final numbers have yet to be tallied, but all agreed attendance at the Oct. 15-18 show was "down significantly."

The positive that emerged, however, is that those who braved the weather were serious shoppers.

"The people that were here were here for a reason: to buy," show manager Dee Newman said this morning as organizers were breaking down the show.

John Martini, head of Martini Yacht Sales, the area Tiara and Marquis dealer, reported a signed contract on a new 50-foot Marquis and potential buyers for a Tiara 4300 Sovran and Tiara 3900 Open. Both prospects plan to sea-trial the boats next week, Martini said, and both have Sea Rays they wish to trade in.

"What we're seeing is that those looking to buy are longtime boat owners dedicated to the lifestyle, rather than non-boaters looking to get into boating," he says. "We had some really qualified buyers and strong leads."

Paul Fenn, president of Jeanneau America, said confidence was high following a successful U.S. Sailboat Show, held last week in ideal weather conditions. At that show, 10 Jeanneau sailboats were contracted. The company signed no contracts for its Prestige line of powerboats, but it had a "lot of good leads," he says, and the overall mood was good, despite the weather.

Last year's show was held amid historically high fuel prices and shortly after the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 1,874 points, or 18 percent - and continued sliding.

"The level of consumer confidence is better [than last year], Fenn says, "no question about it."

— Rich Armstrong

r.armstrong@soundingspub.com

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