While the pandemic days of people paying just about anything for almost anything that floated are gone, several high-performance powerboat builders that exhibited at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which closed yesterday afternoon, are reporting solid results despite what they observed as lower-than-usual attendee turnout. That’s good news for the entire high-performance marine industry, because despite being the final large-scale product showcase of any given year, Fort Lauderdale is generally considered the first stop of “boat-show season,” which wraps up in the spring.
“The Fort Lauderdale show actually starts the season for us as we go to St. Petersburg in January and then Palm Beach in March,” said John Cosker, the owner and founder of Mystic Powerboats in DeLand, Fla., which had three center consoles and one catamaran at the Bahia Mar Marina docks. “I’m hoping this show is a barometer for the rest of the show season.
“I think foot-traffic was down but the quality of attendees was very good,” he added.
Randy Scism of MTI in Wentzville, Mo., who also had a mix of center consoles and catamarans on display, offered a similar take on the 2023 Fort Lauderdale happening
“We had a great show,” said Scism, who was joined by his wife, Cherell, daughter, Taylor, the company’s director of client relations, and other members of the MTI team for the event. “I felt like the traffic was down, but the real boat-buying people showed up.
“It may be better than Miami,” he continued. “Time will tell.”
The MTI crew turned out in force for the Fort Lauderdale show.
The co-owner of Performance Boat Center, which has locations at the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri and South Florida, Brett Marine described the event as “very busy.” He added that PBC salesman Rusty Williams and the South Florida crew will be giving demo rides this week to close sales from the show.
The multi-brand dealership had a mix of MTI and Sunsation Powerboats center consoles and a Performance Powerboats catamaran in the water. Consumer interest this year, Manire noted, was split along boat-type lines.
“We had many new MTI and ‘Sunny’ orders come in last week,” he said. “The show wasn’t ‘great’ for cats, but Key West will be. I’m happy people are still buying high-end boats.”
Manire was, of course, referring to next month’s Race World Offshore Key West World Championship—Performance Boat Center is the presenting sponsor for the November 5-12 event—and concurrent Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run. In addition to having several center consoles and catamarans in the poker-run mix, Performance Boat Center will have models on display in the FPC Poker Run Village adjacent to the Conch Republic Seafood Restaurant.
Center consoles attracted more attention than catamarans for Performance Boat Center.
Kruis Retherford, the owner of GSX Powerboats/Glasstream Boats in Dothan, Ala., and company marketing manager Ashley Strong took in the show as participants, rather than exhibitors. Both are veterans of the Fort Lauderdale exhibition.
“There was no shortage of enthusiasm on the docks, and it appeared that boats were being sold,” said Retherford, who is the subject of an upcoming Speed On The Water In The Lead series documentary video. “Now I’m looking forward to the Miami show.”
The team at Fort Myers, Fla.-headquartered Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats also reported strong results from Fort Lauderdale and sees them as a springboard for the Key West happenings next month.
Enjoy more images from the 2023 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in the gallery above.
“Nor-Tech experienced another terrific boat show and added numerous sales to an already large backlog of orders,” said Trond Schou, the principal of the center console and catamaran company. “We literally sold at least one of every model we offer. People came ready to purchase and overall we are very satisfied with the results.”
Added Nor-Tech dealer Michael Knoblock of American Custom Marine in Kimball, Mich., “Fort Lauderdale was good. It was a little slower than usual with fewer people, but the people were buyers who knew what they wanted.”
Nor-Tech has a couple of events of its own set for Key West next month.
“We are finishing up three Nor-Tech 400 Super Sport center consoles this week that will be joining the Key West Poker Run,” Schou said. “We will depart on Thursday, November 9, with a Nor-Tech Owner’s Only lunch arranged by the Florida Powerboat Club at Sundowners in Key Largo. We are looking at 35-plus Nor-Techs coming this year. We also have our Customer Appreciation Celebration the following night at the Grand Café on Duval Street.”
Another Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is in the books.
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