Fort Lauderdale Boat Show is a Super Yacht Show

Positive Vibes See Day 1 of Superyacht Show Start Off Well

On the Dock © Frances Howorth

There is defiantly an air of positivity about day one here at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show that opened today.

It has been a very hot day on the docks and we have spent our time moving from yacht to yacht gathering news and views for future features.

Dealers, brokers and exhibitors are putting a positive spin on to the event, which kicked off with a press briefing at breakfast which started a full two hours before the show opened to the public.

There, among other interesting facts, we learned that for the first time, the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, the show’s owners, are hosting a formal trade mission of 73 representatives from eight foreign countries including Brazil, Mexico, Panama, China and Sweden.

Online ticket sales are up 20 percent over last year,” said Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist, president and CEO of Show Management, the event’s organiser yet just one month ago the situation did not quite so look so promising with online sales were down 15 percent.”Ticket sales have been coming in at the last minute with 50 percent more than at the same time last year.

This is good news for the American boating industry, were super yacht sales slumped a year ago, but in recent months sales have been showing a slight upturn with many brokers forecasting brighter days ahead.

The first day of any yacht show is a flurry of press conferences and today was no exception. First off was Vicem Yachts with new CEO Alberto Perronne Da Zara introducing Dirk Boehmer as the new President of Vicem Yachts USA a role he has held for just four days. Dirk joins Vicem from Bertram Yachts which is a division of Italy’ Ferretti group and the fact that two top executives from the Italian group have so recently joined the Turks must be seen as a clear indicator of who sees who as competition when it comes to this type of yacht.

Next up was Ferritti themselves with an announcement that the group has positioned itself in the Northeast of the USA by opening a seasonal office in Sag Harbor, New York, where passionate boaters flock during the summer months.

Fellow Italian boat builders chose to call 2009 the annus horribilis describing the economy in general, and particularly that of the yachting industry, the company claims that it represents something of a “white crow” (their words not ours) as they endeavour to limit contraction to 6%, a figure that amounts to an estimated sales volume of 170 m Euros, with an EBITDA passing from 24 to 18 million, equivalent to a reduction that manages to stay within the 25% mark.

Relying strongly on its perceived competitive edge and the solidity of its brand, San Lorenzo forecasts a 2010 turnover for the company of 200 million Euros, amounting to an increase of 18% over the figures for 2009.

They described 2009 crisis as devastating declaring that it has affected the entire world, but they believe that the post-crisis will generate a remarkable and epoch-making change in habits and lifestyles, giving way and consistency to new indicators, which will create a situation of no-return to the old habits of the pre-crisis years.

Non American owners are expected to dominate sales that do occur here at the show with foreign buyers said to be flocking to this year’s show, to take advantage of the strong euro to dollar exchange rates.

Spread across six sites: Bahia Mar Yachting Center, Broward County Convention Center, Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel & Yacht Club, Hyatt Pier 66 Hotel & Marina, Hall of Fame Marina and Las Olas Marina, all in South Florida this show is huge and trust us it takes some getting around.

It was a welcome conclusion to a busy day to take drinks aboard Mea Culpa a facinating sports fishing boat built by McMullen and Wing and now available for the first time for charter through Camper & Nicholsons. Now where did we put those rods?

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the Fort Lauderdale show over its five-day run which ends next Monday, with many attendees patronising local hotels and restaurants who are all making hay while the sunshines. As is often the case at shows such as these prices have a habit of creeping up in the hope that he who can afford to at least look at a super yacht will not notice the extra 15% or so price hike in just about everything.