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The Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show gave the boating industry an injection of positivity with its return after a one-year hiatus to a new venue. Organizers estimate that 100,000-plus attendees visited the show during its five-day run, and exhibitors reported strong sales across most categories.

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This year’s edition, held Feb. 16-20, was the first iteration of the Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show, a joint production between Informa Markets, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the International Yacht Brokers Association. It combined the Miami International Boat Show, the Miami Yacht Show and SuperYacht Miami to create one experience for the boating industry at five locations throughout South Florida. It also marked the show’s return to the Miami Beach Convention Center, with support from West Marine. At the center, more than 1,000 exhibitors had products on display, ranging from boats to electronics to fishing gear.

“The key economic indicators for boating remain sound, and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic,” said NMMA president Frank Hugelmeyer.

“The key economic indicators for boating remain sound, and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic,” said NMMA president Frank Hugelmeyer.

At the annual industry breakfast, held Thursday morning, Larry W. Berryman Jr., vice president of Miami Boating for Informa Markets, said, “It’s been seven years since the Miami International Boat Show was held in this building, and it’s great to be back. Joining with NMMA in this reimagined building and at our other venues to create the world’s largest boat show is an amazing accomplishment.”

From 2016 to 2020, the show was held at Virginia Key and the Miami Marine Stadium, with all exhibitors in a single location. Having everything in one place was a positive, but getting to and from the show was a challenge that this year’s show eliminated, to an extent. 

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A Team Effort

NMMA created Discover Boating to attract the next generation of boaters and engage current boaters. NMMA president Frank Hugelmeyer called the reimagined, rebranded Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show a “resounding success” and said it couldn’t have come at a better time for the industry. “We are grateful for our partners and look forward to building off of the 2022 event to continue to deliver the best of boating to hundreds of thousands of boating enthusiasts from around the globe for years to come,” he added.

Paul Flannery, chief operating officer of the International Yacht Brokers Association, said the docks were full and exhibitors were pleased with the consumer response. “It is clear that our partnership with the NMMA in the new and reimagined Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show will be a successful one for many years to come,” he said.

Sustainability and innovation took center stage at the Progressive Boat Show Experience at Pride Park. Experiential efforts were well-received, including the AquaZone from Nautical Ventures, which had in-pool demonstrations and experts on hand to answer questions; the Costa Conservation Village, which shared information about protecting and promoting a healthy marine environment; and the Charged! Electric Pavilion that featured electric propulsion systems, battery-powered boats and high-tech products from manufacturers worldwide.

Mercury’s 600-hp Verado and Ilmor’s 630-hp inboard won NMMA Innovation awards

Mercury’s 600-hp Verado and Ilmor’s 630-hp inboard won NMMA Innovation awards

SuperYacht Miami was the place to be for those looking for the largest yachts. It showcased Damen’s 182-foot Gene Chaser and 180-foot Gene Machine, as well as Oceanfast’s 163-foot Thunder, among other superyachts.

During the industry breakfast, Berryman spoke about the importance of using social media to engage new boaters and anglers. “Social media engagement is up 75 percent to 7.5 million, and paid social gained us 20.5 million impressions,” Berryman said. “We had 6 million YouTube views last year, and Instagram traffic was up 22 percent compared with prepandemic levels.”

Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation president and CEO Dave Chanda echoed the importance of engaging across multiple channels. “The remarkable interest in boating and fishing is immediately apparent when you look at the metrics for our website,” he said. “We had more than 55 million visits in the first nine months of last year and 3.5 billion impressions, which is more than the entire previous year.”

Bipartisan advocacy remains a key part of NMMA’s initiatives in the nation’s capital, and Hugelmeyer highlighted the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act as a major achievement. He then introduced U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who appeared in a video to comment on the elimination of retaliatory tariffs placed on U.S. boat imports to Europe and that the department is working hard to have the 25 percent tarriff lifted in the United Kingdom. Additionally, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., ranking member of the House of Committee on Natural Resources, took to the podium to stress the importance of conservation and preserving the environment for boaters, anglers and hunters.

Early Numbers

Viking Yacht Co. reported that it sold eight Viking and 11 Valhalla models from 33 to 90 feet, and had more than 7,000 registered visitors during the five days (2,500 on Saturday alone). Viking’s sister company, Princess Yachts America, also fared well, reportedly selling a dozen yachts, including two Y85s and an X95.

“It was a fantastic February for us — just phenomenal,” said Viking president and CEO Pat Healey. “It has taken a lot of hard work by many talented, smart people, from design and production to sales and service. We have the entire package, with everyone committed to making sure our owners have an experience that is second to none.”

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Brunswick Corp., the parent company of Mercury Marine, introduced an electric outboard concept called Avator, and displayed the corporation’s ACES (autonomy, connectivity, electrification and shared access) initiatives, with driver-assistance programs, generator-replacement solutions, connected products and a Freedom Boat Club exhibit. Brunswick-owned companies and products earned 16 awards at the show, including three NMMA Innovation Awards, as judged by members of Boating Writers International. One award went to Mercury’s 600-hp V-12 Verado in the Outboard Engines category.

“Miami is a bellwether, early-season show, and Brunswick and all our brands had an outstanding event,” said Dave Foulkes, Brunswick CEO. “Our company has the tools to bring to life distinctive new marine products and experiences, an ability which is further enhanced by the product portfolios and capabilities of our recent acquisitions, including Navico and RELiON.”

Brunswick’s Boat Group reported that sales were up more than 30 percent versus the 2020 prepandemic Miami show, with Boston Whaler leading the way. Brunswick’s revenue was up nearly 40 percent versus the 2020 Miami event. Whaler also launched the new 360 Outrage, powered by 600-hp Mercury V-12 Verado outboards and equipped with the Fathom generator replacement system, CZone digital switching and Navico electronics. Sea Ray, another brand in the Brunswick portfolio, introduced the 370 Sundancer with twin Mercury V-12 Verados, and Bayliner launched the Trophy T24CC.

Mercury stepped into the alternative propulsion arena with a concept electric outboard called Avator.

Mercury stepped into the alternative propulsion arena with a concept electric outboard called Avator.

Other Highlights

With interest in electric propulsion continuing to grow, Correct Craft’s Ingenity subsidiary launched the 23E, a dayboat with an open concept and an electrically powered sterndrive. The boat took first place in NMMA’s Innovation Awards in the Cuddy Cabin, Bowrider, Deckboats category.

Formula announced its return to the center-console market with the 387 CCF and CCS editions. (CCF stands for “fish,” and CCS for “sport.”) The company had scale models on display and expects to go into production later this year. Scout Boats continued to add to its fleet with the 400 LXF S-class, with the “S” designation signifying its most luxurious offering. Tiara announced its biggest boat to date, the EX 60, which it plans to launch this spring. Pursuit had its new S 428 on display, and it took home top honors in the Center Console/Walkaround Fishing Boats category in the Innovation Awards.

Boating Writers International recognized writers, photographers and videographers in its annual contest.

Boating Writers International recognized writers, photographers and videographers in its annual contest.

From overseas, Leopard’s 46 Powercat and Beneteau’s Swift Trawler 48 were global launches, while Pardo’s E60, Azimut’s 68 flybridge and the Ferretti 500 were seen in the United States for the first time. Azimut’s Grand Trideck won the Innovation Award for Cabin Cruisers, Motor Yachts and Trawlers. Veteran judge Zuzana Prochazka said, “With the unique raised mezzanine deck, Azimut adds to and redefines outdoor living on a yacht.”

The show also made clear that Cigarette Racing Team has been busy under new owner John H. Ruiz, who purchased high-performance catamaran builder Doug Wright Designs in Melbourne, Fla., and tooling and engineering firm Vectorworks, which is based in Titusville, Fla. Cigarette Racing Team also announced that it’s going to build a personal watercraft, the Cigarette E-Jet. Also from the go-fast world, Midnight Express presented the new 52 Vitesse powered by six Mercury Racing 450R outboards, and reportedly took orders for 10 of the new model.

On the engine side, Ilmor unveiled its most powerful wakesports engine to date: a 630-hp supercharged 6.2-liter power plant that makes 665 foot-pounds of torque. It won the Inboard Engine category in the Innovation Awards. Indmar Marine exhibited a Ford-based 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine with a jet pump for the pontoon market. Yamaha announced a new connected division and facilities expansion, and accessories giant Sierra, owned by Dometic, announced that it had rebranded and consolidated. When it comes to big horsepower, it’s hard to ignore Mercury’s 600-hp 7.6-liter V-12 Verado, which won the Outboard Engines category in the Innovation Awards.

In other categories in the competition, Raymarine’s Cyclone solid-state array radar won in the Consumer Electronics, Mobile Applications and Software class, while Roswell Marine’s Rise telescoping helm system took the honors in Deck Equipment. Orenco Composite’s DuraLast floating dock and Sunstream’s SunLift SLX shared the award for Docking and Fendering Equipment. Visit nmma.org for a complete list of winners.

More than 1,000 exhibitors displayed in the convention center.

More than 1,000 exhibitors displayed in the convention center.

Soundings Trade Only is part of the Active Interest Media Marine Group, whose publications compete annually in the Boating Writers International contest. The winners are announced every year at the Miami show. This year’s contest drew 273 entries in 15 categories from 95 participants. AIM publications took five first-place awards, eight seconds, two thirds and 12 certificates of merit.

With the 2023 show scheduled for Feb. 15-19, manufacturers are cautiously optimistic that they will have enough time to build inventory and get back on track with materials suppliers. At the annual industry breakfast, Hugelmeyer said, “The key economic indicators for boating remain sound, and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about our industry.” 

This article was originally published in the April 2022 issue.

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