The 54th Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show featured a key element that wasn’t present the past couple years: clear sunny skies. The omnipresent sun helped attract 28% more visitors than in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy flooded and even closed part of the show.
The largest Fort Lauderdale show yet included a substantial expansion north of the Las Olas Bridge, where the 26 North Yachts team displayed Bac O Booc (above). Mike Carlson, co-founder and broker at 26 North Yachts, says that since he started attending the show a decade ago and since 26 North launched in 2011, this show is always one of the most successful of the year.
“In fact it was the 2011 FLIBS that we signed the new build Outer Reef 86 Ti Punch at,” he says. “We went from signing that deal at the 2011 show and now having the christening at the 2013 show (below, courtesy of Outer Reef Facebook).”
The north end of the show is a considerable walk from the booths and tents located near the Bahia Mar, particularly when there’s not a cloud in the sky. However, the location is not without its advantages. Just as the rest of the show is structured by dividing up the builders by their make of boats – the sportfishermen with the sportfishermen, the trawlers with the trawlers, and the megayachts with the megayachts – the brokerage boats are kept with the brokerage boats and attract attendees who are interested in buying, not just looking.
“Being positioned on the north end surrounded by similar-size brokerage boats has always done well for us,” says Nicholas Scherb, co-founder and broker. “It takes a little more effort to walk up there off Las Olas, which weeds out people just out to see big boats. We find on the north-end customer tends to be more qualified and know what their looking for.”
Fort Lauderdale marks the beginning of the American season. The deals made and the interest shown on the docks will set the tone for the rest of the season. The show also demonstrates to overseas builders and brokers the health of the American market, which in recent years hasn’t been as strong as the European and South American markets.
“We expected this to be a strong show with the American market still showing the bulk of our sales continuing to be the largest player in the yachting world,” Scherb explains. “Of course we see buyers and sellers from all over the world, but the reality is the American market remains strong.”
Although this year seemed to be slightly less crowded than previous year, the refrain on the docks from builders and brokers seemed to be that the “right people” were at the show. The 26 North Yachts team noticed the same trend.
“All in all the traffic was about average but an end result of the show is we’re seeing offers, which is all we can ask for,” Carlson says. “The true success of any show is typically determined the following couple of weeks. In reality all it takes is our brokers to make contact with a few good buyers and sellers and it’s all worth, which we certainly feel like it was this year.”