Con­sider a Boat Show Road Trip

Yachts International - - From The Masthead - Kenny Wooton Ed­i­tor-In-Chief

In case you hadn’t no­ticed, it’s boat show sea­son in Amer­ica and Europe. Many of us live within an easy drive or quick flight to great des­ti­na­tion shows such as New­port, An­napo­lis, Fort Laud­erdale and Mi­ami, and dozens of smaller ex­hi­bi­tions. In Europe, Southamp­ton, Cannes, Monaco and Düs­sel­dorf rule the waves. Builders, bro­kers, deal­ers, ser­vice com­pa­nies and equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers gather at these events to show­case the lat­est mod­els and tech­nol­ogy. While there is some over­lap in boat line­ups, you’ll see or learn some­thing new at ev­ery one of these large shows. And each venue of­fers a unique ex­pe­ri­ence inside the gates and out.

For those of us who live in four-sea­son cli­mates, the fall and win­ter shows of­fer a chance to see what the boat­ing in­dus­try has con­jured up for next spring. We may love what we have, but who among us doesn’t har­bor the fan­tasy of go­ing newer, big­ger, bet­ter or just dif­fer­ent?

In this is­sue, you’ll find in­for­ma­tion on the 59th Fort Laud­erdale In­ter­na­tional Boat Show and the 50th in­stall­ment of boot Düs­sel­dorf in Ger­many. Fort Laud­erdale of­fers vis­i­tors an in­cred­i­ble se­lec­tion of boats from in­flat­a­bles to su­pery­achts, spread over six venues—five of them out­doors in the glo­ri­ous late-fall Florida sun­shine—with beaches, restau­rants and nu­mer­ous side-trip op­tions. Boot Düs­sel­dorf is a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal, but equally im­pres­sive. It blows me away with its va­ri­ety of boat-re­lated stuff and ac­tiv­i­ties spread through 16 mas­sive ex­hibit halls. The idea of Ger­many in Jan­uary may not light your fire, but the show is fan­tas­tic, and there’s plenty to do in the city and many op­por­tu­ni­ties for pig­gy­back win­ter get­aways.

One thing that this year’s shows should cor­rect is the mis­taken im­pres­sion that the Amer­i­can large-yacht build­ing in­dus­try is in de­cline. While that may be true to a de­gree, a num­ber of our na­tive ship­yards are very much alive and well. Sev­eral are ca­pa­ble of build­ing nearly any­thing a large-yacht client wants, at a level of fin­ish that ri­vals that of the mar­quis Euro­pean yards. In this is­sue, we of­fer a guide to the top builders in Amer­ica. No one in the know should leave these yards out of the equa­tion when con­sid­er­ing a new build.

And, while you’re in a Stars and Stripes state of mind, con­sider this: The U.S. Congress passed the John S. McCain Na­tional De­fense Act of 2019. The bill, which the pres­i­dent signed in Au­gust, con­tained an amend­ment that will make it eas­ier for own­ers of recreational ves­sels (non-com­mer­cial) to fly the U.S. en­sign. Read about that in this is­sue, too, and know that the U.S. Su­pery­acht As­so­ci­a­tion and oth­ers cham­pi­oned the ef­fort, which spanned about a decade. Ku­dos to all who made it hap­pen. The bill di­rects the U.S. Coast Guard to de­velop a long-over­due Amer­i­can large yacht code. It re­mains to be seen what im­pact this will have on the U.S. large-yacht build­ing in­dus­try, but it’s a step in the right di­rec­tion.

No mat­ter what size yacht in­ter­ests you, I’d sug­gest plan­ning a win­ter va­ca­tion around a boat show. Take the kids or grand­kids and share the sport we love. You won’t be sorry.

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