Kicking off and catching up at MIBS

This week, MIBS – one of the largest boat shows in the world – kicked off down in Miami, Fla. “The opening day of the 2023 Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show was an incredible success,” commented Andrew Doole, President of U.S. Boat Shows with Informa Market, in a recent press release. “Our team is looking forward to providing an unforgettable event for all to enjoy – and we encourage everyone to visit the show this Presidents Day weekend. We are forecasting the perfect conditions for fun under the sun!” Boating Industry caught up with a few exhibitors on day one to get a pulse on their expectations for the show.  

Mercury Racing recently celebrated their 50th Anniversary and unveiled an all-new V10 400R engine. The rest of the company marches on under a new rebrand with the tagline “Next never rests,” a testament to their attitude towards innovation. Lee Gordon, the VP of communications at Mercury’s parent company, Brunswick, is excited with how 2023 began and is eager to greet the rest of the year. “We started the year in Las Vegas at the consumer electronics show. We had a great show, and it all opens up from there,” says Gordon. “Miami is kind of the bellwether for the U.S.; it sets the tone of what the year’s going to be. We’re hoping for high traffic; we’re hoping to see a lot of people. We want to see engaged consumers as well.”  

So far, Gordon’s hopes haven’t been in vain. Miami expects over 100,000 people, and many are serious about taking the next step in their boating journey. Boat manufacturers such as Chris Craft can see this in the evident enthusiasm around the convention center. “So far, so good,” confirms Alison Scharnow, VP of marketing and customer experience at Chris Craft. “We’ve had a lot of traffic for a Wednesday. We usually start to see it start to pick up later, but really, it’s been busy since this morning. Miami is always a great show for us, and we’re expecting this year to be the same.”  

During day one of Miami, Chris Craft debuted the Calypso 32, notable for its enclosed helm deck. Chris Craft also unveiled their concept boat, the Launch 25 GTe, a fully electric functioning prototype that promises even more from the company in the area of electrification.  

Another exhibitor bringing innovation to the show is Volvo Penta, who debuted an all-new twin forward drive engine. Volvo aims to be on the cutting edge of sterndrives, and they also announced a new partnership with Southport Boats, a manufacturer from South Gardiner, Maine.  

“We’ve had a really great launch here this morning,” says Christine McKone, Volvo Penta’s marketing director. “We have a twin forward drive that we launched. Now we’re getting into larger boats; you can bring more people to the boats; you can go into different waterways that you might not have been able to go to before.” 

Of course, none of this could happen without the show itself. Across the industry, the importance of events like Miami and Fort Lauderdale remains imperative.  

“Boat shows are everything. We need boat shows, whether they’re in-person or virtual, but we really want to keep them in-person. For us, the boat shows do a lot of different things. Number one, it allows us to talk to our customers; number two, it allows us to engage with our colleagues who we don’t get to see all the time; and it allows us to engage with our brands.  

“There’s no better place to come and see boats,” says Scharnow. “You can see them online and it’s great, but boat shows are such a great opportunity to get excited about boats maybe pull that purchase forward.”  

“This is where the products debut,” concludes McKone. “This is where we have a chance to meet our customers, for them to see what’s coming out and to get feedback from them too, giving them an opportunity to really shape what that future of boating is going to look like.”  

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