U.S. Sailboat Show reports attendance boost

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The 45th United States Sailboat Show wrapped up Monday in Annapolis, Md., with ticket sales up more than 5 percent from last year, more exhibit space than ever before and nearly two dozen new-model introductions.

“It went great. We sold over 30 boats,” Beneteau America sailboat sales manager Chris Doscher told Soundings. “We were very happy with the turnout and very happy with the quality of people. It was a little wet a couple of days, but people were still coming.”

Attendance was still up despite a Navy football game and rain on Saturday, what would normally be the show’s busiest day, Annapolis Boat Shows president and general manager Paul Jacobs told Soundings.

“We had a couple things going on Saturday in terms of attendance, so that wasn’t our greatest day, but we made up for it Sunday,” Jacobs said. “We had more exhibitor space booked this year than we had in the past several years. I think this was the largest in terms of square footage.”

Jacobs said boats between 20 and 50 feet seemed to make a return, which many attendees welcomed. More than 50 multihulls were on display, representing the largest selection available in the world.

“There were more 22-footers, daysailers and 30-footers, so there were a lot of those boats that might appeal to families and middle-income families,” he said.

That was certainly the case with Beneteau’s new ASA First 22, a boat made in collaboration with the American Sailing Association.

The boat, though originally intended for sailing schools, was a hit with families, Doscher said.

“The only people anticipating it were the ASA instructors that came from around the country [for the debut],” Doscher said. “The rest of the public didn’t know about it. It originally was supposed to just be a school boat, but we had so many people coming up, saying, ‘Do we have to be a school to buy one?’ So that changed quickly. We’re going to end up selling a lot. More than we thought, I can tell you that.”

Beneteau brought 10 boats to the show –- two of them debuts –- and even sold a boat based on a mockup of a 60-footer that is set to debut in Miami this winter.
Doscher said boats across the spectrum were selling. “All of them [were selling,]” he said. “It’s not like one of them was leading the pack.”