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Boot 2017: Water sports take center stage

By Jonathan Sweet

It's been another packed day here at Boot Dusseldorf. The halls were even busier today (Sunday) than yesterday as it seems to be the family day here at the show -- lots of people with kids today.

That's always good news. Just like back home in the States, Europe is facing the same problem of getting younger people into boating. The group of American journalists here had lunch today with show director Petros Michelidakis and he identified that as a key challenge. The show is trying to do their part, partnering with a number of German schools to bring students to the show. They're walking around the show sporting "Boot Next Generation" T-shirts.

One of the key attractions for those potential future boaters is the two halls dedicated to water sports. Although the exhibitors say it isn't as big yet as it is in the States, it's growing in popularity here. The show also features "The Wave," which show organizers say is the first stationary deepwater wave at a show. It's hosting surfing demos and competitions, as well as giving attendees a chance to try it out. It was also the site for tonight's trade party, garnering praise from the exhibitors and press.

I also got a chance to talk to Jay Povlin, vice president of sales and marketing for MasterCraft, about water sports here in Europe. MasterCraft's new XT21 made its European debut at the show. The mid-sized crossover adds a 21-footer to the existing XT23 and XT25. The new series is a step up from the NXT series and Povlin said MasterCraft expects it to drive plenty of sales to new boaters.

Now that the NXT has been in the field for a while, MasterCraft has found 40 percent of NXT buyers are first-time buyers and an additional 30 percent are coming from the sterndrive segment. The company is aiming for similar numbers for the XT series.

After the United States and Canada, Europe is MasterCraft's largest market. There is great potential for growth, Povlin said, as wakesurfing hasn't caught on here to the extent it has in the United States, but there are lots of skiers and recreational users.

See more from Boot Dusseldorf and plenty of photos on our Facebook page.IMG_20170122_174213097

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