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A show of power

Boat Show Preview

Boat Show Preview

If you’re looking for a new boat — no matter the size, type or price — you’ll likely find it at the 2008-’09 fall and winter boat shows.


 Palm Beach (Fla.) Boat Show

The Newport (R.I.) International Boat Show kicks it all off in mid-September, followed a few days later by the Norwalk (Conn.) International In-Water Boat Show. The schedule gets even busier in October, with shows in Boston, Annapolis, Md., and Fort Lauderdale, which spills into November. After the New York National Boat Show in December, there’s a lull in the action for the holidays, but then things start up again in February with the Miami International Boat Show.

The new boats in this preview are scheduled to be on display at one or more of these events, and our collection represents 16 builders, with vessels ranging from 17 to 75 feet and pricing from $19,000 to $4.3 million.

Nearly every boat type you can think of is accounted for here, from a full-displacement 93-ton trawler with twin 740-hp diesels to a 900-pound dory with a 50-hp outboard. In between, we have a 38-foot RIB, a small and a big center console, a bowrider, a handful of express cruisers, an open cockpit express fishing boat, two classic New England dayboats, a walkaround, a flats/bay boat, and luxury motoryachts built overseas.

Read the other stories in this package: Boat show powerboats   Sailboats change their course

Australian builder Riviera is one of those foreign builders. The company plans to have at least one of its boats at four different shows. “Riviera is an international manufacturer of three segments of vessels: flybridge, sport yacht and offshore express,” says Michael J. Scruggs, president of Riviera Yachts of the Americas in Stuart, Fla. “We have a very solid base in Australia as well as the EAME [European-African-Middle Eastern] and U.S. regions that we draw from. Even though all markets have shown some decline, it works to our benefit to have a presence in all markets and across these three segments of vessels. I also believe that new product always sells. When the market does return, Riviera should be well positioned.”

Continuing to introduce new boats is critical during tighter economic times, says David Hensel, director of brand and marketing for Seattle-based Grand Banks Yachts. The builder has introduced about two models per year since 2004 across its Eastbay (New England-style cruiser), Heritage (trawler yacht) and Aleutian (pilothouse motoryacht) lines, he says.

“The new boats continue to drive business, plus we sell in markets around the world,” says Hensel. “Europe really took off for us for a while, and now we have new dealer networks in places like Turkey, Australia and Croatia.”

The downturn in the economy has had a direct effect on sales in the United States, according to Wayne Porter, vice president of sales for Formula Boats, of Decatur, Ind. “The overall economy has impacted all product lines in the retail market,” says Porter. “Formula will continue to display product and promote retail activity at fall and winter boat shows by supporting incentive programs, which provide rebates, lower interest rates and fuel-expense assistance to new Formula buyers.”

Boat shows also are a good way to get a look at today’s new, innovative propulsion offerings, including big 4-stroke outboards and pod drive systems. The 2009 Grand Banks 41 Heritage EU is powered with Cummins MerCruiser Diesel’s Zeus pod drives, which allow the skipper to move the boat sideways, at angles or rotate it with a nudge of the joystick. Grand Banks plans to have the boat in Annapolis, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

The Zeus system also powers the new Sea Ray 43 Sundancer, which is scheduled to be on display at the Fort Lauderdale show. Look for three other new Sea Ray models at the shows: the 300 Select EX, 270 Sundancer and 230 Sundeck.