As boat show season begins in earnest, this week all the headlines in the boating press seemed to belong to Cannes international boat show. However, builders at the Newport boat and brokerage shows were also showing vessels as the season wraps up in the Northeast, and 26 North Yachts co-founders and brokers Mike Carlson and Nicholas Scherb were there, walking the docks, and speaking to local brokers about the summer season.
After a five-year absence, Carlson says the show is starting to grow again and attract more builders, brokers, and equipment manufacturers.
The two abutting shows stretch along the waterfront along the shipyard to Bannister’s Wharf, making walking the docks between the shows easy to complete in a day. There were more than 750 exhibitors displaying everything from boats, equipment, electronics, and other marine gear.
“If you’re in the area, it’s still a fun show,” Carlson says.
However, there were no yachts larger than 85 feet at the Newport Boat Show, only two at the brokerage show (a 126-foot Feadship and a 93-foot Burger), and the vast majority on display were sailboats.
This year brought some big-name builders out to display before brokerage firms begin winterizing the yachts. Carlson and Scherb saw plenty of Hinckley, Sabre, and Hunt yachts, which are indigenous to the Northeast with their classic Downeast styling. Zeelander and Palm Beach Yachts displayed their version of the Downeast styling. Plenty of trawlers filled the gaps between the classic yachts in the harbor that call Newport home.
“It is the perfect show for someone with a larger yacht who is in the market for a high-end tender,” says Carlson. “There was a 42-foot RIB by Yellowfin on display that would be perfect.”
“Or if you are in the market for a smaller local runabout,” Scherb says, “the show would be perfect.”
Many of the brokers on display specialize in highly localized sales and service, which can make the show a little underwhelming if a customer is used to the crowded docks of the Fort Lauderdale and Miami shows.
“The Newport show really emphasizes how South Florida is the hub of yacht sales in the United States,” Scherb says.
In meeting with customers and colleagues in Newport, the news on the docks seemed to reflect that this year’s yachting season had been quieter than last year. The weather this year was hot and rainy weather, and last year’s schedule was filled with festivities—including as a stop on the America’s Cup circuit.
“Anyone who has not been to Newport by boat really does need to visit,” Carlson says.
With customers in Newport and Florida, Carlson and Scherb had an ulterior motive to visiting the Newport shows: Looking at the possibility of opening a satellite office in the Northeast.
“A lot of customers are talking to brokers, and owners see the boat in the Northeast but they buy their boat in Florida,” Scherb says. “We could offer a local presence with a worldwide reach with a 26 North Yachts office in Newport.”
Perhaps the 2014 Newport shows will be expanding just a little bit bigger.
Photos courtesy of the Newport Boat Show