There was an array of dynamic new products paired with amped-up positivity at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which was summed up by Mindi Doller of Doller Offshore Marine: “We are busy, service is slammed.” And joining Sunsation dealer ranks has really been a catalyst for her business as the on-display 32’ Sunsation, already boasting a “sold” sign before it even got to the show, proved. “We did a sea trial the day before and the client bought it,” she said. “The industry has recovered and things are good.”
As I headed further down the H Dock (formerly known as the high performance docks), it was obvious that Center Console (CC) sales have driven the performance side of the industry forward. MTI showcased a striking MTI-V42 emblazoned My Total Insanity, dressed in silver with blue accents and quad (count ‘em) Verado 350 hp engines that hit the 75 mph notch, while Statement featured a 380 powered by triple Mercury Racing 400s with “Statement” in bold, block lettering along the side.
“Statement offers a lot of variety of options for buyers,” Craig Barrie pointed out. “Some want to fish, semi-fish and some want comfort with 12 to 14 passengers on board. The 38’ CC runs 70-79 mph, depending upon the power package” The company’s in-water show model sported triple Mercury Racing 400s. “This is a whole new generation of fishing, now termed ’boutique’ boats. We’ve all benefited from the CC explosion and I see this continuing for 2016 and 2017…getting bigger and better.”
However, the high performance icon from the Cigarette Racing and Hawk Marine Power days, alluded to a return of performance boats. “I do believe that they are coming back. They will recycle themselves and make a come back.”
Over at the 600 tent, designers at OceanLED USA launched their XD16 Xtreme Dock Series exhibiting underwater LED lighting offered in unlimited color-change, ultra white, midnight blue and sea green that’s three times brighter than its predecessor: 4500 fixture lumens for brilliant illumination. This new generation from OceanLED provides boat and marina owners with an energy efficient product to dazzle their waterfront property, as well as durable underwater light for increased security. The company’s long-awaited debut of its DMX Mobile App Light Control System – a hands-free, limitless color-change technology – for both Android and iOS operating systems showcased a user-friendly interface which ranges from creating virtually any color imaginable to a funky “Rock the Boat” feature that strobes as the boat rocks on the water. OceanLED Marketing Director Nicole Squartino explained, “The mobile app control platform gives boaters advanced wireless control over their underwater lights. It’s truly an integrated solution for an efficient and enjoyable boating experience.”
Along with the latest products, there’s always some interesting buzz fueling the show and this year was no exception: a wealth of information presented during Westrec Marina’s annual press reception included the latest information on the company’s new South Florida facility – Haulover Marine Service – slated to open in April 2016, along with a news announcement that Larry Goldman of Xtreme Powerboats will be moving his business to the innovative 500-rack fully enclosed dry storage facility, located on the Intracoastal Waterway at Bakers-Haulover Inlet in North Miami Beach.
“I’m excited because it’s got the premium location,” Goldman told me. “We’re maintaining our performance brand and plan to focus on the mainstream [CC] boating market.” He also plans to expand Xtreme Powerboats’ operation with the addition of a marine service center. “We worked out an arrangement to make both a showroom and service facility, housing boats up to 55’ long and 37 ½’ wide. “This is going to be a good move for my customers: the boats will show better there and for servicing, it’s a short run out the Haulover Inlet and Atlantic Ocean.”
Bobbye Miller Kenyon’s high performance articles have appeared in Hot Boat Magazine, along with fast-paced marine industry news in her Hot Sheet Column from 1997 – 2008. Her company, Offshore Public Relations, is a multi-faceted firm that has represented marine industry leaders and champions of the offshore racing arena. A native Miamian, she enjoys boating off the Florida Keys waters of Key Largo to Islamorada and the lakes of the Kentucky countryside.