A West Michigan tradition, the 2018 Grand Rapids Boat Show is just a month away and the excitement is building with the local performance boat community. In a conversation with Chris Dekker, a founding board member of West Michigan Offshore, the Michigan native said that this year’s 73rd annual Grand Rapids Boat Show, which takes place February 14-18, is going to be one of the best in terms of go-fast boat representation.

grandrapids wmo sotw

The West Michigan Offshore display at the 2017 Grand Rapids Boat Show included a beautiful Fountain. Photo courtesy Chris Dekker

The 32-year-old Dekker, who has attended the boat show since he was a kid, said he remembers being disappointed in the show year after year because it was “an endless sea of pontoons and ski boats.”

“I have nothing against those type of boats, but there’s only so many hundred you can see before you’ve had enough,” Dekker explained. “I remember the board meeting where Roger Zuidema suggested that we try to work out a deal with the show to give us enough space to put a cool boat on display for free in return for allowing them to advertise to WMO members to increase ticket sales. I told him that I thought he was nuts and that there was no way a sold-out show would give up that much revenue-generating square footage for our then-new and relatively small club.

“Roger made a couple of calls, and I’m glad to say that he proved me very wrong,” he continued. “The first year, 2016, we had Bill and Monica Reiffer’s well-known 43-foot Checkmate Powerboats V-bottom on display, in addition to club apparel sales, offshore video on a big screen, membership opportunities and so on. Henri Boucher, the show’s manager, was incredibly generous in not only giving us the space for free, but also providing utilities, carpet, tables, a TV and a raised platform that we put next to the boat so people could look into the cockpit and engine compartment.”

Read more: Grand Rapids Growth