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Here’s to the resiliency of our industry

It’s hard to believe, but it’s here. After talking about it for the last 12 months, we’re about to see industry history made with the Thursday opening of the new Progressive Miami International Boat Show at the new Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin.

No boat show of this size and scope has ever been uprooted and relocated. Add in that it’s been moved to a facility that, well . . . has no facilities. And, to make it interesting, it’s gotta go down in history as the first-ever boat show where hostile neighbors filed lawsuits to block it, hired a PR firm to oppose it and obviously lit a candle at the feet of the Patron Saint of Bogus Claims.

It’s truly going to be a testament to the resiliency of the marine industry. Exhibitors have stepped up big to support it. The City of Miami has never wavered from its recognition of the importance of the industry. And boating organizations, both trade and consumers, have been vocal in their enthusiasm for the new show.

But the real shoutout should go to a team that looked past the naysayers predicting it couldn’t be done and moved ahead never doubting it could. Recognition of the leadership of Cathy Rick-Joule, vice president of shows for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and her dedicated Miami-based team will likely be lost on all of us as we look wide-eyed at their finished product. So let me be the first to congratulate each one in this unstoppable group.

As you read this, I’m on my way to Miami to see firsthand what’s been achieved. Couldn’t stay away even if I wanted to. I want to see the land-side displays that will be housed in enormous clear-span structures. Then there is the adjacent in-water fleet of 400-plus boats tied up to 268,000 square feet of floating docks in a temporary marina built for the show. In-water is a whole new dimension for this 75-year-old, but all-new, boat show. Moreover, I anticipate it will have far more energy and excitement than the old convention center site.

Of course, temporary docks are nothing new for boat shows in Florida. Yachts Miami Beach (formerly the Yacht & Brokerage Show) will again span more than a mile in-the-water along Collins Avenue, its traditional location. It’s a totally separate show, but when one realizes these two huge boating expositions are held concurrently, one can only conclude that if it’s a marine product and it is not in either of these shows, it doesn’t exist.

To move people around these shows, a fleet of water taxis and more than 100 buses will be rolling from parking sites set up by both shows. Some 100,000 show goers from 26 countries are expected to attend the new Miami show, the NMMA said.

Finally, virtually every major boatbuilder announced it is premiering at least one new model in these shows this week. This is great news that illustrates the recession is in our wake and builders are again committed to investing in new products that will stimulate the market.



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