Making memories in Miami

By David Gee

Cool products, cool people, cool place and warm weather. That is, or was, the 2020 Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show. And five days, 100,000 people, and lots of sales later, it has successfully concluded.

There were some preview events last Wednesday, but for the media, Thursday is the big day. Myself, Boating Industry managing editor Adam Quandt and national sales manager Leslie Palmer got out our Google Sheets scheduler and fanned out across the docks and the tents attending back-to-back unveilings and press conferences.

Big outboards were a big deal, and there were lots of them, on all kinds of boats.

As we reported recently, outboard engine retail sales, which increased for the eighth consecutive year in 2019, have nearly reached pre-recession levels with a 13-year high.

And as we will examine more closely in the Market Trends story on outboards in the next issue of the magazine, the biggest sales surge has come in the 200HP-300HP range.

Not only are you seeing them on more types of boats, but you are seeing more of them on individual boats. Three motors on the transom are fairly common these days, and we saw lots of boats with four, five and even six outboards hanging out the back.

At the totally opposite end of the spectrum, everyone was also talking about electric boats. They weren’t talking very openly mind you, the engine manufacturers are keeping their electric plans pretty secretive at the moment, but I think everyone is trying to figure out what the future for this propulsion system is. In the meantime, they are certainly investing R & D dollars.

The recently debuted Nautique GS22E was honored as the team from Ingenity took top honors in the NMMA Innovation Awards electric propulsion category.

The wakesurf boat can run about two-and-a-half hours on electric power, before needing an hour or so to recharge its batteries. The technology isn’t where it needs to be for a mass market, but it has already come a long ways. Again, look for an upcoming Market Trends story on electric propulsion this summmer.

Speaking of the innovation awards, that industry breakfast where the awards were announced was one of the highlights of the show for me.

This year’s program evaluated 71 products across 21 categories, with the judges selecting 18 winners.

Our team also went to the Boating Writers International breakfast as well, where excellence in marine journalism is honored. It’s also a great opportunity to network, and actually meet the people behind the bylines.

Lastly, the abiding Miami memory for me, besides a string of 86-degree days, is the opportunity to get out on the water in a variety of boats.

At many of the other big shows, such as Fort Lauderdale, the boats are so tightly packed into the docks that they can’t be moved until the show is over. Miami has lots of indoor tents, lots of boats at floating docks and then lots of boats heading out to Biscayne Bay and beyond for demo rides.

Going to a boat show and actually being on a boat is a bonus!

It sure seemed like lots of business was being done. When we get sales figures from the show, we will certainly report them. My guess is they will be very good, for everyone.

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