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N.Y. boat show a respite from winter

Unseasonably high temperatures and the fact that both New York football teams were vying for playoff spots could have been contributing factors to the New York National Boat Show’s lackluster attendance this year, down 15 percent. But the people who did turn out were serious about buying boats and accessories, show promoters say.

“[The show was] not as successful as I had anticipated, but sales reports from the floor were good. Not great, but good,” says show manager Michael Duffy. “I heard from several dealers that, although attendance was lighter, there appeared to be more qualified buyers.”

One of those buyers was Eric Gabrey, who drove to the show with his wife and two children from Hackensack, N.J. “We’re here doing what I think most people are here for — looking at boats that are bigger than the one we have now,” says Gabrey, who is 33. “We’ve got a 29-foot Sea Ray Bowrider now that we enjoy cruising up and down the Hudson in. I’m pretty serious about getting a bigger boat. The Larson Cabrio Cruisers line is nice. I’ll be gathering a lot of information today.”

Bob Carlson of Southport, Conn., was in the market for a new center console. “I’m looking at all the Grady-Whites,” says Carlson, who is 54. “They’re beautiful boats, and they’re looking bigger these days. There’s a good selection here, so I’m comparing prices and features.”

More than 1,000 boats, ranging from the 2-foot radio-controlled speed boat to the Marquis 55 LS, were packed into New York City’s JacobK.JavitsCenter Dec. 30 to Jan. 7. Some of the new models on display included the Back Cove 29, Baja 26 Outlaw, Grady-White Express 305 and 360 and Sabre 38. One boat that got a lot of attention was Mojo, a 2006 Marine Technology 39 R/P series used in the film “Miami Vice.”

Some activities at the show included the Fetch-N-Fish, a 40-foot-long, 4,000-gallon tank featuring casting demos; the Adventures of Turtle Man, a comedy act and turtle race for children and adults; and the Powerboat Docking Challenge, where show-goers could compete to maneuver a radio-controlled model boat in a miniature marina the fastest. There also was the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s Discover Boating display, a video arcade and a number of contests.

Show promoter Duffy says plans are under way to create an awareness campaign to help familiarize New York legislators with the region’s boating industry and the difficulties he says he experiences with scheduling the boat show during the New Year’s holiday.

“I’m looking forward to expanding many of the programs and promotions we started this year,” Duffy says, “and to increasing our attendance as well as the number of boats sold at the show, reinforcing the show’s prestigious position within the region and the nation.”