Merger creates new St. Petersburg boat show

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Veteran show producers Show Management of Fort Lauderdale and Sail America of Middletown, R.I., have combined two longstanding boat shows into one all-new “super show” now called St. Peterburg Boat Show & Strictly Sail.

A projected crowd of 25,000 is expected to attend the Dec. 4-7 event in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Under the terms of the new merger, Show Management oversees all aspects of exhibitor sales, marketing and event management, while Sail America will endorse and promote the show to create a strong and viable sailing presence, including producing turnkey sailing seminars and special programs.

According to Sail America executive director Jonathan Banks, the conversation to merge the show began in February 2007. Following an extensive study and analysis, both parties concluded the move was a winning proposition for all involved, he said.

“Sail America and SESA — the Southeastern Sailing Association — were looking for a new and improved venue, while also seeking to grow our show and maximize our reach,” Banks said in a statement. “This merger accomplishes those primary goals while also delivering major benefits to both exhibitors and show attendees.

“We believe this move will increase both attendance and the number of exhibitors,” Banks continued. “We anticipate that sailing will add additional appeal and excitement to the St. Petersburg Boat Show while bringing highly affluent sailing buyers to the venue.”

According to Banks, the merger carried the full support and unanimous vote of the Sail America board of directors and the Strictly Sail St. Pete show committee. A task force was established by the association to help analyze the opportunity and to ensure that both exhibitor and attendee needs were met.

Logistically, the new and expanded show venue will add a dedicated sailing area to accommodate up to 50 sailboats, which will join the roster of 200 powerboats. The adjacent Bayfront Center will host a new on-land sailboat display along with three air-conditioned seminar tents for both sail and power programs, also new components to the show. There will also be a much larger accessories tent to accommodate the new sailing-related gear, equipment and service vendors.

“Besides offering all of our combined power and sail exhibitors [and] these significant new enhancements, we’ve also worked hard to create a level playing program and singular pricing for our exhibitors, which is fair and equitable for all,” said Dane Graziano, senior vice president and COO of Show Management.

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