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New dates offer new hope for N.Y. show

Longstanding winter exhibition aims to focus on diehard boaters and those looking for a deal

The National Marine Manufacturers Association is banking on new dates and a shorter five-day format to boost sagging attendance for the 105th New York Boat Show, which runs Jan. 20-24.

The Affordability Pavilion will return this year to highlight boat brands that can be financed for less than $250 a month.

Last year, the show saw a 49 percent drop in attendance when it was held Dec. 13-21 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, nearly two weeks earlier than the last five years when the dates ran through the Christmas and New Year holidays.

“We realized the last thing people were thinking of over the holiday season was our boat show,” says show manager Jon Pritko. “A lot of people were out of town during that time that normally wouldn’t be.”

Pritko — who replaced Michael Duffy, the show manager for the last 17 years — is confident that waiting until after the holidays will change attendance dramatically.

This year’s show will feature the usual mix of sportfishing boats, center consoles, cruisers and runabouts, along with dinghies and a variety of gear and accessories. Exhibitors will include Boston Whaler, Cobalt, Grady-White, Chaparral and Sea Ray. Engines represented will include Mercury and Yamaha. A full list of dealers to date can be found on the show Web site (

Ben Pulvidente, owner of Amity Harbor Marine in Amityville, N.Y., and a Chaparral dealer, has a long history with the New York Boat Show. His family has participated in every show since 1956.

“It’s a chance to show off merchandise. We sell and service all of Long Island and New York City and the show is a good way to increase exposure,” says Pulvidente. “It’s still the best way to market ourselves and Chaparral boats.”

Pulvidente will display the Chaparral boat line, highlighted by the 2010 edition of the 310 Signature cruiser, which J.D. Power calls solidly built and “an excellent representative of the high-end express cruiser genre.”

Pulvidente is confident the date change will improve attendance and sales. “I think the new dates are going to help the show all the way around this year,” says Pulvidente. “People will be in town and the economy seems to be picking up.”

For those concerned about financing a boat, the Affordability Pavilion will return, featuring a selection of vessels and brands that can be financed for less than $250 a month. Attendees will also get the opportunity to pre-shop the show online to see what brands and dealers will be available, as well as schedule appointments with dealers before the show.

“This is my 11th year working the show and I believe the consumer is different,” says Pritko. “People look at a lot of stuff online before they come to the show, it’s not just, boom, come to the show and buy a boat. We’re trying to cater to that.”

Between 250 and 300 exhibitors are so far slated to attend.

Organizers have also added more family-friendly events, including the show’s first Wing-a-Thon, where the person who eats the most hot wings can win a major prize. There will also be a Miss NY Boat Show beauty contest as well as a chance for attendees to win a fishing charter with Jonathan Hillstrand from Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch.”

On opening day of the show, anglers will get a chance to tell their best fishing tales and tips in a segment called “Fish Tales.” The angler with the best fishing story will win a chart plotter valued at up to $1,000. Pritko says they do not have details yet on which brand will be providing the plotter. Kids will also have a chance to board paddleboats and take a spin around a mini-lake in the convention center.

This article originally appeared in the Connecticut and New York Home Waters Section of the January 2010 issue.