Yacht sales surge at NY Boat Show

NEW YORK – Sales of multi-million dollar yachts soared at the just completed New York Boat Show thanks to Wall Street bonuses, baby boomers contemplating retirement and an improved U.S. economic outlook, Reuters reported in a story over the weekend.

Sea Ray’s exhibitor booth at the Jan. 1-9 show, held in the Javits Center in New York City, had beaten last year’s record sales before the show was even half over, spokesman Phil Wolhar told the news service.

“Last year people talked about the war and the stock market. So far this year, we haven’t heard any words of concern,” Wolhar said.

Triton, which specializes in luxury fishing boats, sold five boats at this year’s boat show, compared to one last year, Reuters reported.

Although the $30 billion recreational boat market made a recovery in 2004, sales of larger yachts had lagged behind those of their smaller counterparts until now, exhibitors and analysts told Reuters.

“This year, the larger boats are selling,” Arthur Grauer, a salesman manning the Bayliner booth, told the news service.

But at Bayliner, which specializes in more affordable models, sales were off compared to last year, Grauer said.

Overcrowding at U.S. marinas and the surging price of oil have pushed boat costs to their highest levels in years, but most buyers still say money is almost no object, Reuters reported.

“The strength began in the smaller boats and moved up to the larger boats. If you go to some of the yacht manufacturers, you have to now wait for delivery,” said Joe Hovorka, a leisure analyst at Raymond James. Hovorka believes that although discounts and giveaways were popular at the boat show, retailers have been firming up their pricing plans, and some are starting to cut discount programs or plan price increases, according to Reuters.

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