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Yacht & Brokerage Show numbers on the rise

Exhibitors, attendance, boats and revenue all showed increases over last year on Collins Avenue


The scene at this year's Yacht & Brokerage Show, staged along Miami's Collins Avenue, showed a continuing uptick in optimism among exhibitors.

There were more boats, exhibitors and visitors at this year's Yacht & Brokerage Show, further brightening the mood of an industry in need of good news.

"I couldn't have been happier," says Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III, CEO of Active Interest Media and Show Management. "Coming in, we seemed to have some good momentum, and we had good crowds, great weather and great exhibitors."

The number of exhibitors was up from 143 last year to 165. Revenue from exhibitors was up more than 12 percent, new boats on display were up about 14 percent and brokerage boats were up 3 percent, Zimbalist says.

Attendance figures weren't available because admission was free, but Zimbalist estimates foot traffic increased 15 to 20 percent, based on concession sales that were 40 percent higher than in 2010.

Attendee registration at exhibits was the best in seven years, he says, with exhibitors reporting especially strong customer inquiries in the 40- to 80-foot range.

  • The Ferretti Group, which had 22 yachts from 33 to 88 feet on display, introduced four models - the Ferretti 800, 750 and 620 and the Aquariva Gucci, a 33-foot fiberglass and mahogany dayboat designed in collaboration with luxury goods manufacturer Gucci and powered by twin 380-hp Yanmars.

CEO Salvatore Basile says the group is "doing better than expected," which he credits to reinvestment during a down market. "Our investment in new product, investment in new technology and investment in better customer care has produced excellent results," he says.

Rob McDougal, chief sales officer for the group, said in a statement that a "significant number" of boats were sold and "we are confident that our sales figures will continue to rise."

Basile points to continued investment in the North American market, including Allied Marine alliances with dealers in Chicago and Wisconsin and the opening of a new sales office in Newport, R.I., as a sign of the company's long-term commitment.

  • Grand Banks displayed two new yachts, the 76 Aleutian RP and the 46 Eastbay FB. Marketing director David Hensel says the last few years have been challenging, but debt avoidance, a strong cash position and a conservative business philosophy have kept the builder stable.

"We're eager to see what happens in Miami because there has certainly been a lot of momentum building," Hensel says. "Our people are very enthusiastic about the quality of leads. It's just a matter of getting the deals done." He says the company remains committed to the idea that new products and innovation will drive the recovery.

  • A new player, Netherlands-based Zeelander Yachts, showed its 38- and 44-footers. The semicustom yachts, with twin Volvo Penta IPS propulsion and a gyro stabilizer system, are marketed as high-end tenders for megayacht owners who want to cruise without a crew.

"One of the European publications called it a 'mini-superyacht,' " says Peter Quintal, a Fort Lauderdale-based sales executive who previously sold Sea Ray boats.

Nine hulls have been launched, Quintal says, and the two boats on display had been sold before the show began, both to American clients.

Zeelander is taking an aggressive approach for a new company, pushing into the European and North American markets simultaneously. The builder announced a deal with MarineMax after the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last fall.

"Based on the reaction so far we're looking to move production to the U.S. very soon," Quintal says. "Dutch-designed, U.S.-refined."

The yachts take about eight months to build, and they are priced in the $1 million to $2 million range.

  • Viking Yachts, which brought 14 models from 42 to 82 feet, had one of the most visited displays on Collins Avenue. There were 4,800 registered guests during the five-day show - a 50 percent increase from last year, according to a company announcement.

Six Vikings were reportedly sold: two 76 Convertibles, a 70 Convertible, two 60 Convertibles and a 66 Convertible, a new model announced at the show. Viking expected additional confirmations in the weeks after the show, based on post-show sea trial appointments.

  • Yachting Experts International Brokers officially celebrated its new partnership with Australian boatbuilder Riviera Yachts by hosting a launch party during the show. More than 250 people, including John Anderson, Riviera's chief executive, and Chris McCafferty, CEO of Riviera Yachts USA, attended the event, which was held at the Riviera display.

Visitors also were able to tour a number of Riviera models, including the popular 44 Sport Yacht, 47 Enclosed Fly Bridge and 45 Convertible.

Yachting Experts last fall was named the exclusive South Florida dealer, including Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, for Riviera and its line of motoryachts and express cruisers from 35 to 85 feet.

Yachting Experts says it closed more than $3.6 million in sales of new and brokerage boats at the show and got another six leads that could generate additional sales in the coming weeks.

"On the new-boat side, we sold three Riviera models, as well as three Boston Whaler boats, to South American buyers," says Betty De Varona, who with her husband, Frank, is a principal of Yachting Experts. "On top of that we sold three brokerage boats."

  • Jenny Stern, director of marketing for Nordhavn builder Pacific Asian Enterprises, was giving tours of the 64. (A Nordhavn 55 was on display at the Sea Isle Marina & Yacht Center.)

Stern describes business as stable after a "gangbuster" December. Recent sales included an 86- and a 66-footer. "We want to get through this year, and we think we'll be all right," Stern says.

  • Galati Yachts, a dealership whose lines include Grand Banks, Cruisers, Tiara and Viking, had more than a dozen yachts on hand at its expansive display. The company was coming off its third year of exhibiting at the Dubai International Boat Show.

Broker Brian Franc says the Florida-based dealership has been helped by an expanding international presence. "We're expanding our horizons, starting with the 2008 Dubai show," Franc says. "Business was coming to us, but now we're going to it."

General manager Darren Plymale says business is showing clear signs of improvement. "Lauderdale was a good show," Plymale says. "So our take is, let's ride the wave and see where it goes."

  • Among the brokers, Pam Barlow of Luke Brown Yachts was aboard Sea Fever, a 90-foot 2003 McQueen motoryacht selling for $3.85 million. Barlow says 2011 looks to be a better year. "It's definitely picking up," she says. "I had clients who are actually ready to buy now instead of sitting on the fence, like the last couple of years. The perception of a yacht as a 'luxury expense' seems to be fading."

Barlow says yachts in the 70- to 130-foot range seem to have the most traction as the industry recovers.

This article originally appeared in the April 2011 issue.



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