Miami International Boat Show grows in size and appeal

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Why will dealers from around the nation be among the more than 100,000 attendees expected at the Progressive Miami International Boat Show next month? Maybe it’s the typically warm sunny weather? Reason enough, I’d say, if they’re among those beaten up by the record cold in the country this winter!

Or maybe it’s because dealers get a first look at some new midyear models, not just in boats, but also in electronics and accessories, that are typically unveiled in Miami. Or it could be to attend events like the popular Industry Breakfast (name keynoter to be announced) or some individual company special meetings — for example, the Leading With Vision and Values luncheon, hosted by Regal Marine Industries and featuring former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, a Super Bowl winner and a remarkable speaker (I’ve heard him) who I guarantee will inspire all.

But most likely dealers will attend because this show at Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin on Virginia Key has now grown to be the industry’s largest all-encompassing boating exposition.

“We’ve sure increased this year,” explains show manager Larry Berryman. “Headlining our growth is the relocation of Strictly Sail Miami to our Virginia Key site. It means we’ve revised and expanded our footprint to accommodate a lot more boats and accessories on land and in water. And it’s not just the sail fleet. We’re also meeting more demand for powerboat space.”

Kevin Murphy, show manager of Strictly Sail, says his exhibitors are fired up. “Our sail group loves the fact that in joining the rest of the industry on Virginia Key, they gain direct access to literally tens of thousands of additional people they’d never see at the old Bayfront site.

And, for our sailors, we’ve eliminated all the time-consuming hassle of having to travel to two locations to see everything. It’s easy, one-stop shopping now,” he adds.

The expanded temporary show marina will include a separate new pier for the sail fleet.

The expanded temporary show marina will include a separate new pier for the sail fleet.

All the extensive installations on land and water are well underway, says Berryman: “With 29 days to opening, we’re on target. We’re adding more docks, realigning on-shore spaces and planning for more food and general features. In all we’ll have around 1,400 boats on display, about half in the water. We’ve designed [the show] so that more than 200 boats will be easily accessible for sea trials this year.

“The in-water sail fleet will occupy an entire pier,” says Murphy. “Exhibits of sailing gear and accessories will be in our new Sailor's Cove located inside tents F and J. We will also have a full lineup of sailing seminars and meet-and-greet sessions with well-known sailing experts,” Murphy added.

The new Sailor’s Cove will occupy space in tents F and J.

The new Sailor’s Cove will occupy space in tents F and J.

Other new features at the MIBS include a VIP program in which attendees will access an exclusive air-conditioned lounge, complimentary food and drinks, an outdoor deck for relaxing and all show features.

Not new this year, but sure to be cheered, is the return of Great Performances, the New York City-based catering company as the food and beverage provider. The variety and quality of food services last year was unprecedented in the boat-show realm. This year, Great Performances is expected to add to its branded concepts while partnering with well-known Miami-area restaurants’ food trucks to integrate their signature offerings.

All these options will be in addition to the return of the popular Latin Café (a 300-seat full-service restaurant), The Knife Steakhouse (another 300-seat full-service restaurant), and SuViche & Novecento (a 125-seat full-service restaurant), along with other new menu and dining options.

Bottom line: MIBS is slated for Feb. 15-19 (Thursday through Monday). If you haven’t booked or planned to attend yet, it’s time to seriously consider doing that. The MIBS presents a unique opportunity for dealers, sail or power, to attend one comprehensive industry showcase.

Moreover, coupled with the Miami Yacht Show at Collins Avenue in Miami Beach (formerly Yachts Miami Beach), which runs concurrently with MIBS, albeit totally separate, a trip to Miami next month will put you in the true center of the latest that boating has to offer.

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