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Two sail shows cut, new one added

Sail America drops its New York/New Jersey and Atlantic City shows in favor of Philadelphia

Disappointed by recent sales and attendance figures, Sail America is dropping its annual Atlantic Sail Expo in Atlantic City, N.J., and the New York/New Jersey Sail Expo (held for the first time last year), and will replace them with a new all-sail show in Philadelphia early next year.

“When we opened the New York/New Jersey show, what we did was allow the industry to split, where essentially boatbuilders were committed to Atlantic City; however, gear manufacturers and supporting services were more excited about the New York/New Jersey show,” says Sail America executive director Scot West. “By running two shows in the same market, we ended up with two shows that did not reach their potential.”

Attendance was down 10 to 11 percent at this year’s Atlantic Sail Expo, held Jan. 15 to 18 at the Atlantic City Convention Center, and sales came in roughly 25 percent behind the previous year, according to West. The New York/New Jersey show at Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, N.J., debuted last Sept. 25 to 28, with a disappointing four-day turnout of only 7,500 people, he says.

The new Philadelphia show reflects Sail America’s overall marketing strategy to consolidate and target the resources of the sailing industry behind a single show, according to organizers. The city’s proximity in the middle of a strong buying market, its world-class convention center, and metropolitan hotels and restaurants were key attractions. The show is expected to draw sailors from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast markets, and will run from Jan. 20 to 23, 2005, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Sail America has secured comparable dates for 2006 and 2007.

Sail America, a sailing industry trade association, promotes the growth of the sport through a variety of educational outreach and marketing programs, and through the production of shows that attract both die-hard sailors and newcomers.

Other all-sail shows organized by Sail America are Strictly Sail Chicago the first week of February, Strictly Sail Miami the second or third week of February, Pacific Sail Expo in San Francisco the second weekend in April, and St. Petersburg (Fla.) Sail Expo in November.