Jersey show caters to 'the serious boater'

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The Strictly Jersey Boat Show will once again offer sea trials of every in-water boat on display

The Strictly Jersey Boat Show will cruise into South Jersey Marina in Cape May, N.J., for a second year. "Our footprint worked so well last year despite the rainy weather, that we wanted to follow up," says show manager Mark Allen.

The show, which runs April 30 to May 2, specializes in powerboats, particularly sportfishermen. Allen says the show drew around 2,000 people last year with about 600 attending on opening day.

Strictly Jersey is tailored specifically to the serious boater, says Allen. Show organizers encourage dealers to distribute tickets to their clients and work to keep the show small and intimate. This year two free tickets will be given to anyone either holding a New Jersey Boating Safety Certificate or a Sea Tow membership card. (Admission is $15.)

"It's not about ticket sales; we just want people who are serious about boating to get a chance to come and enjoy a small show with quality products," says Allen, whose marina represents Albemarle, Ocean Yachts and Viking Yachts.

The idea for Strictly Jersey came in 2008 when Allen decided he was tired of exhibiting at boat shows that were expensive to attend and had attendees that weren't serious buyers.

"You might go to Miami and you'll see 1,000 people, but maybe only 15 of them will be serious buyers," says Allen. "Plus, it cuts down on the travel and the cost for dealers in New Jersey because we're right here in the area."

Customers will once again be able to sea-trial each of the in-water vessels - a popular feature of last year's show. Allen did not have numbers at press time as to how many vessels would be in the water, but last year they had more than 50 boats that could be sea-trialed by prospective clients.

One client walked in last year and bought a 70-foot Buddy Davis Sportfisherman. "The client sea-trialed it and bought it at the end of the show. People really enjoyed getting a chance to really be on the boat they are interested in," says Allen.

Many of the 60-plus exhibitors have expressed interest coming back to the show. Still, Allen doesn't want the show to get too big.

"Part of the attraction is that it is a smaller show and people can find what they need more easily that way," says Allen.

In fact, one improvement this year is making it easier for attendees to find what they are looking for.

"We are developing a better locator system," says Allen. "It's not a large show, but we had some complaints of people not being able to find what they needed and we want to accommodate that."

Allen says dealers and organizers have to be ready to answer in-depth questions because Strictly Jersey is geared toward serious boaters.

"These people understand boats and the marine business and everyone has to be on top of their game," says Allen. "It can be exhausting, but well worth it."

For information, visit www.strictlyjersey.com.

This article originally appeared in the Mid-Atlantic Home Waters Section of the May 2010 issue.