OFFICIAL: BOAT SHOW REFLECTS INDUSTRY'S RECOVERY March 22, 2013

Expanded event on Flagler Drive has more yachts on view than ever before.

By Darrell Hofheinz, Daily News Staff Writer

Advance publicity promised that the 28th edition of the Palm Beach International Boat Show, which runs through Sunday, would be the largest ever in terms of size and the number of vessels displayed on the Flagler Drive waterfront.

And on Friday, an official backed up those claims with numbers that reflect the show's notable recovery since the recession began waterlogging the nation's marine industry five years ago.

"New boats (displayed) in the water are up 31 percent," said Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III, chief executive officer of Active Interest Media, which owns Show Management, the boat show's production company. Visitors can peruse 244 newly manufactured boats and yachts on view in the waterway, compared to 186 last year, Zimbalist added. The new boats - as opposed to used "brokerage" ones - are among the 543 vessels on view along the show's temporary slips and the deepwater-docks at adjacent Palm Harbor Marina, occupying a total of 92,000 square feet of space. Last year, the grand total of in-water boats and yachts numbered just 425, he said.

"We are thrilled. It's the biggest show since 2008," Zimbalist said Thursday at a kickoff media breakfast at the City of West Palm Beach-owned lakeside pavilion facing Flagler Drive. "And it's well above the 2008 levels."

The value of merchandise is also up, thanks largely to bigger yachts. Of those, 14 measure more than 150 feet in length, including the largest-ever yacht at the show - the 223-foot Kismet, a 2007 charter vessel that carries a price tag of 79 million euros, or about $102.6 million.

A study commissioned by boat-show officials assigned a total value of $1.2 billion to the marine products, related merchandise and vessels on display last year. Zimbalist said after his talk that the figure has been exceeded this year, but final tallies won't be available until the show is over.
In addition, he said, the total square footage devoted to the display of boats on land is up nearly 22 percent over last year.

Zimbalist's presentation was decidedly more upbeat than the one he delivered at a similar breakfast last year, when the economic recovery was still finding its feet. At that time, he noted that the West Palm Beach event had been the first of his company's South Florida marine events to show signs that the economy was recovering.
Show Management's other annual boat shows include the flagship Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show as well as smaller events in Miami, Sarasota and St. Petersburg.

The recovery trend initiated by the Flagler Drive show back in 2010 is firmly entrenched now, said Zimbalist, the son of television actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

"I would guess - there aren't really any statistics - that this is the fastest-growing boat show in the country, at least of any size," Zimbalist said. "I believe it's in the Top 5 (list of) shows in the U.S. in terms of boats in the water and geographic footprint."

Another trend he noted was that more manufacturers are presenting their yachts directly to the public, rather than solely through retail vendors. As an example, he noted that Viking Sport Cruisers' Palm Beach office supplies its own Princess yachts to the show in cooperation with the HMY Yachts brokerage.

Other companies with Palm Beach locations represented at the show include Ferretti Group America, Camper & Nicholsons, and Worth Avenue Yachts. The latter is presenting the show's second-largest yacht, the 200-foot Diamonds are Forever, in conjunction with the London-based Ocean Independence brokerage.

Zimbalist thanked West Palm Beach for its continued support of the event. During her remarks at the breakfast, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio praised the boat show as "one of the premier events in our city."
Fort Lauderdale-based Show Management has for the past 18 years produced the boat show for its owner, the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County.

IF YOU GO

What: The 28th Palm Beach International Boat Show continues through Sunday on Flagler Drive in downtown West Palm Beach. Entrances are on Flagler Drive, Evernia Street and at North Clematis Street.

Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. today and Saturday; and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $16 at the gate or $14 online for adults; $7 at the gate or $5 online for children ages 6 to 15; admission is free for children under 6. Tickets are available online at showmanagement.com and at the show's box offices on Flagler Drive and North Clematis and Evernia streets. Admission is valid for same-day entrance at all show sites.

Special event schedules and parking details: Call (800) 940-7642; visit the show's website, showmanagement.com; or download the show's MyBoatShow app for smart phones.

 

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