Attendance down, quality up at Strictly Sail Pacific

OAKLAND, Calif. — Attendance was down roughly 15 percent, but Strictly Sail Pacific still exceeded exhibitor expectations by drawing quality potential buyers, organizers reported in a press release yesterday.

With over 13,000 showgoers, attendance was down at the close of Strictly Sail Pacific, – the largest sailboat show on the West Coast, which ran April 16-20 at Oakland’s Jack London Square – compared to the gate for 2007, but many exhibitors said the smaller crowd did not impact the quality of the buyers, according to the release.

“This year’s show drew quality potential buyers, and it exceeded our expectations,” said Dave Moore, owner of Cruising Yachts, Inc. (Alameda, Calif.), one of the show’s largest vendors with a fleet of 13 boats in the in-water section. Cruising Yachts showcased boats from Hunter, Jeanneau, and Caliber, ranging from 31 to 49 feet, and sold six at the show.

“This was one of our best shows,” said Alex Harrison of Hanse Yachts US (Annapolis, Md.). “The customers were there – the ones who are serious about buying boats.”

Hanse Yachts had three different boats ranging 35 to 54 feet in length in the in-water section of the show, and Harrison was confident that at least five potential sales will likely result from exhibiting at Strictly Sail Pacific.

The 12th Annual Strictly Sail Pacific drew over 200 exhibitors and some 70 boats.

This year, with Jack London Square in the throes of a major expansion, the layout of the show was modified to include two large tents and a number of smaller tents located throughout Jack London Square. The in-water section of the show was not affected by the construction.

“Exhibitors and attendees seemed to like the new layout,” said Kevin Murphy, national show manager for Sail America, which produced the event. “The outside tents created a festival atmosphere and attendees liked the proximity of the exhibitors to the local restaurants and shops.”

Sail America will bring Strictly Sail Pacific back to Oakland’s Jack London Square in 2009. “Plans are already in place to work closely with Jack London Square and the Port of Oakland to create additional exhibit space for next year’s show,” said Murphy.

Although Sail America plans to keep the show at Jack London Square for the foreseeable future, the organization will continue to consider new locations for the show’s long-term future.

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