Annapolis Boat Shows Concludes Successful Year: Grand Prize Beneteau First 22 Awarded to Virginia Sailor

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In 2015, the Annapolis Boat Shows' goal was to improve nautical shopping opportunities that boaters have come to expect, while also expanding maritime activities like a sailboat giveaway, boat demos and sea trials, junior keelboat regatta, boating classes, and on-the-water workshops, all designed to interest more people in the sport of boating.

An aerial view of the 2015 United States Powerboat Show

The Beneteau First 22 is our grandest prize giveaway since the inception of the company in 1970. We hope to continue this tradition and are making plans to offer a powerboat giveaway in 2016

In early 2015, the Annapolis Boat Shows set out to make its fall and spring boat shows more interactive and fun. The company's goal was to improve the tried and true nautical shopping opportunities that boaters have come to expect, and expand other maritime activities like a sailboat giveaway, boat demos and sea trials, junior keelboat regatta, boating classes, and on-the-water workshops all designed to interest more people in the sport of boating.

A lucky Virginia sailor was the grand prizewinner of a Beneteau First 22, retail value of $29,900. Eve German of Richmond, Virginia was selected from more than 10,000 sweepstakes participants at the United States Sailboat Show. "This is our grandest prize giveaway since the inception of the company in 1970. We will continue the tradition and plan to offer a powerboat giveaway in 2016," said Paul Jacobs, general manager and president of the Annapolis Boat Shows.

For the first time, Cruisers University four-day curriculum on cruising and boat preparedness was offered in April and October. The program is suitable for both sailors and power boaters preparing to live aboard a boat.

"I am a mechanical engineer with 33 years experience in United States Navy contracting, and the diesel maintenance class, hands down, was the best continuing education class I have taken in my professional career," said Jerry T. of Virginia.

Since taking over as owner in 2013, Jacobs' team has worked to encourage people into boating. New and expanded programs like Take the Wheel, Annapolis Community Boating, First Sail Workshop, Cruisers University, Demo Docks, Fly Fishing and Casting Lessons, and the Annapolis Junior Keelboat Regatta are so successful that the company is looking to add similar offerings in the future.

"More than 1,000 people participated in sailing workshops featured at the spring and fall shows, most of them novice boaters," Jacobs said.

Nick Harvey, president of Jeanneau America reported an increase of young couples with kids embracing the idea of the sailing lifestyle.

Brokerage Cove, a show within a show, features previously owned boats presented by regional brokers at both the sail and power fall shows. In its second and third years respectively, the venue offers affordable alternatives to the new boats in Ego Alley.

Departing from the docks of the spring and fall powerboat shows, dealers and manufacturers conducted more demonstrations than ever of new model powerboats, outboard engines, and stabilizing systems. Jacobs said that these expanded sea trials were extremely beneficial to dealers, very popular with consumers, and will continue to grow in years to come.

Powerboat sales proved the point that increasingly younger families and new boaters were entering the market. This year at both powerboat shows there was an added emphasis on smaller affordable trailerable boats and pocket cruisers that are easily transported and fun for families. Dealers reported excellent sales of boats under 35 feet, likely an indication of the return of the middle income demographic to boating and boat buying, a group that has been missing since the recession.

Overall 2015 Unites States Powerboat Show exhibitors reported the best sales in almost a decade and many noted the high quality of customers who came to shop. Attendance remained strong and the show's footprint hosting 360 boats grew by more than five percent.

"Attendance was better than last year. Our customers were more engaged and more interested in purchasing since 2008, said Jeff Truesdale of Clark's Landing.

Walter George of Annapolis Boat Sales said that he had never seen so many qualified buyers and the owners of Boat Loop and Lighthouse Rum Cakes had to replenish their stocks twice.

"We had a record year for sales. We saw brand new customers who were writing checks and buying boats," said Stacey DeChant, marketing director of Annapolis Yacht Sales. "This was by far the best show since 2008. We have 1500 leads."

Dubbed the 'world's best' by consumers and exhibitors alike, the United States Sailboat Show is the granddaddy of all sailboat shows and this year was no exception. Recognized as the only sailboat show in which virtually every major sailboat manufacturer is represented, 2015 was one of the largest in history with all land spaces sold out and docks chock full of every imaginable sailing platforms.

Charlotte and John Guptill, owners of Chart Metal Works reported that the show was one of their best retail shows to date and that they were up 20 percent over last year.

"The crowds and traffic throughout the show have been wonderful. I have been here since the 1980s and this year all five days have been record breaking days," said Eric Grant, sales manager at Sailrite.

"From our standpoint, it was amazing. Out of 60+ shows in America, the United States Sailboat Show is the most important boat show to Jeanneau," Harvey said.

Maryline O'Shea, the marketing director at Beneteau reported that sales were up significantly from last year and that the Beneteau booth was always crowded with steady attendance.

In its fourth year, the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show continued its year over year growth in exhibitors and boats displayed. The 2015 event was 15 percent larger than last year with over 76 sailboats on display - 69 of which were in the water. Sales reported by dealers were at an all-time high.

The Bay Bridge Boat Show, an annual springtime in-water powerboat show, was graced with good weather and lots of sunshine. Exhibitor space expanded by nearly 13 percent and included more than 270 boats on display. Ticket sales grew by three percent over 2014--a year that saw a 25 percent increase in attendance.

The Annapolis Boats Shows has more than doubled what it has contributed to the local economy over the past ten years, despite a devastating six-year recession.

According to a recent economic impact computer simulation, in 2014 the Annapolis Boat Shows injected more than $112 million into the Annapolis economy. In addition, the boat shows directly supported 10,000 jobs, and business sales and personal income resulted in $15 million in federal, state and local taxes. The analysis includes indirect impacts relying upon a multiplier effect. A similar study from 2004 estimated an economic impact of only $51 million.

2016 Annapolis Boat Shows
Bay Bridge Boat Show April 15-17, 2016
Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show April 22-24, 2016
United States Sailboat Show October 6-10, 2016
United States Powerboat Show October 13-16, 2016
Cruisers University April 21-24, 2016 & October 10-13, 2016

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Heather Ford

Paul Jacobs
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