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Pulling Back The Curtain On Boat Shows

As anyone who regularly reads this column knows, I have a love-hate relationship with the Miami International Boat Show. I came to loathe the event when it was at the decrepit Miami Convention Center and Sea Isle Marina. Even the raw energy of South Beach wasn’t enough to make the event compelling. Even Cigarette Racing Team’s ever-amazing displays weren’t enough to overcome the convention center’s death-pallor lighting.


Is it time to reevaluate the format of boat shows? It couldn’t hurt. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

After almost 20 years of covering the Miami show at its former home, the best thing I could say about it was that it was walking distance to the casual lunch spots on Lincoln Road, meaning that if you were willing to abandon the show for an hour or two (or three) you could find edible food without getting gouged for it. When the best thing you can say about an event involves lunch off site, the event and its venue have issues.

So for me, the show’s move to Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key—and people need to remember the event had to relocate as it was booted from the convention center after 2015—was a breath of fresh air. No doubt, getting to and from the new venue remains a nightmare, and if the organizers don’t figure it out soon they’ll lose their audience. But it puts boats in the water within a short walk of engine and accessory displays.

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