Attendance has been up for most boat shows this year as the season has gotten off to a strong start.
While final numbers haven't been released for the 2017 edition of the Miami International Boat Show yet, attendance was up through the early going, and the docks and tents were crowded throughout the show.
Look for more coverage of the show in the March issue of Boating Industry.
In its second year at the Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin, the show doubled its dock space to 3.5 miles of dock while rearranging other exhibit space. Another major change was moving the annual industry breakfast from the opening Thursday to Friday morning and rebranding it as the Innovation Breakfast.
This was also the first year the Marine Industry Customer Satisfaction Index Awards were handed out at the breakfast. The move from IBEX to Miami was designed to give more consumer attention and exposure to those award winners. There were a total of 52 recipients this year. (See the full list here.)
NMMA and Boating Writers International recognized the annual Innovation Award winners at the breakfast as well. This year’s program evaluated 63 products across 23 categories. The judges chose 19 winners and two honorable mentions in 16 categories.
Also recognized at the breakfast was former Dometic Americas President Frank Marciano, who received the 2017 Alan J. Freedman Memorial Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals who’ve made outstanding contributions to the marine accessories industry through leadership, creativity and personal motivation.
“NMMA congratulates Frank Marciano on his exemplary work in the recreational boating industry and is proud to bestow upon him the Alan J. Freedman Award,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “Frank’s attention to detail and commitment to marine product excellence and customer service have helped paved the way for marine manufacturing’s growth and innovation.”
The Marine Marketers of America also announced the winners of its 2016 Neptune Awards for Marine Marketing Excellence Friday.
“Marine marketers gave us their best for this year’s highly competitive contest,” said Wanda Kenton Smith, president of MMA. “There was a wonderful variety of submissions and participating companies, from small businesses to global corporations, from in-house marketing teams to boutique and full-service agencies, representing all aspects of the industry.”
As always, there were plenty of new products introduced at this year's show. These are just a few of the highlights:
Yamaha Marine Group
Yamaha Marine Group announced the introduction of Set Point boat positioning function for Helm Master, a new CL7 display, digital electronic control engines and more at the Miami International Boat Show.
“We are so pleased to introduce so many new products during the first quarter of 2017,” said Ben Speciale, president of Yamaha Marine Group. “The expansion of our brand through these products gives boaters even more options and ways to enjoy their time on the water while benefiting from Yamaha innovation, power and reliability.”
In the above video, David Meeler, Yamaha's product information manager, discusses the new F90 outboard
Volvo Penta showcased two new V8 engines and its new Joystick for Inboard system.
The innovations are part of Volvo Penta's continuing "Easy Boating" strategy, designed to make boating more enjoyable and accessible to consumers, said Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Penta of the Americas.
Volvo Penta's new aluminum 6.2L V8 380 and 430 hp models are based on the General Motors Gen-V block. Working with GM allows Volvo Penta to leverage the technological advances of the auto industry, Huibers said.
“These new-technology engines provide our customers with proven quality, reliability, fuel economy and performance,” said Huibers.
Mercury Marine introduced a bevy of new innovations from joystick control for inboard engines to new racing engines at a media event ahead of the show.
The growth in popularity of water sports, particularly wake surfing, makes the technology an important addition to the Mercury lineup, Brunswick Corp. Chief Technology Officer David Foulkes said.
"That's a segment first in tow sports," Foulkes said. "If you've ever operated a tow sports boat ... you know it's not the easiest boat to maneuver, so having real joystick functionality on a tow sports boat is a real breakthrough for that segment."
See more from the announcement in the video above.
While there were no new products in the offing, Honda Marine did introduced a concept engine at the show. With inspiration from across Honda’s lineup – including automotive, marine and aeronautical – the design concept engine is a blue sky vision for what future marine engines could look like, the company said.
“The Honda Marine Design Concept Engine is a clear indicator that Honda is committed to the Marine business, continuing its legacy of innovation and groundbreaking marine products with a vision of what future Honda Marine power could be,” said Will Walton, assistant vice president – Honda Marine.
Designers at Honda’s Advanced Design Group were given a “clean sheet of paper” opportunity to design a concept motor that could be applied to a variety of engines. For design inspiration, the group looked across the portfolio of Honda’s product lineup, from current marine outboard motors to automotive products like the Acura NSX Supercar, to the Honda Jet. The group started with some sketches and then moved to digital modeling to create the dimensions and look of the concept engine.
Boston Whaler introduced the new 380 Outrage, built for offshore runs or social gatherings. The boat features user-friendly amenities, storage and Whaler's V-hull design.
For entertaining, the optional summer kitchen includes a grill and refrigerator/freezer, plus storage for snacks and essentials. The air-conditioned cabin with a convertible settee/V-berth provides a place to duck out of the elements, enjoy a meal or stay overnight.
For anglers, fishing features include the standard 60-gallon transom livewell, the leaning post, an integrated hardtop with rod holders and large in-floor fish. An Upper Station with advanced helm is an available option.
Ranger Boats's new 2360 Bay Ranger made its debut at the show. The new offering is the latest from Ranger's Saltwater Series.
Measuring 23 feet, 5 inches, the 2360 is rated for up to a 300 horsepower outboard and houses an 81-gallon tank. Ranger Boats says the boat is able to draft in as little as 13 inches of water, giving anglers the confidence and stealth few other bay boats offer. The 2360 also comes with the choice of a custom hard top or a factory-rigged second station tower.
Available in a multitude of color options, the boat's Carolina flare design functions aesthetically and is built to provide a smooth, dry ride. Underwater L.E.D. lighting extends swim times, attracts bait and provides aesthetics while under power.