The long-running Long Beach Boat & Yacht Show was given a reviving breath this year with new ownership, a new name, and a new format. The show technically changed hands when the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) merged with the Southern California Marine Association earlier in 2012. The decision was made to refocus the show on sailors, which makes it the only all-sail show in Southern California.

Long Beach Strictly Sail boat show

At Strictly Sail Long Beach there were plenty of boats to check out, as well as seminars and interactive hands-on experiences.

The key difference over previous shows was the interactive nature of this new event. More than forty complimentary seminars were added for the novice and experienced sailor. Discover Boating provided American Sailing Association instructors for 30 and 90-minute hands-on clinics, and kids got wet testing out stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and small sailboats. For those who wanted to stay dry, there was even an on-land sailing simulator where young circumnavigator Zack Sunderland was spotted assisting people trying their hand at the basics.

The docks were busy as well. More than 50 sailboats were put on display in Rainbow Harbor at Shoreline Village. Among them was a new Fountaine Pajot catamaran, the Lipari 41, which made its West Coast debut. Kurt Jerman, president of broker/dealer West Coast Multihulls noted, “I watched this exact boat coming together at the factory in France last spring, so it’s very exciting to see it arrive here on the West Coast.”

NMMA stretched to try and reach every kind of sailor with the launch of this new show. For the advanced, there was an all-day Safety-at-Sea seminar which was a US Sailing-sanctioned event available for an additional fee. Whitbread racer John Jourdane, weather guru Lee Chesneau, Transpac skipper Bruce Brown and Practical Sailor technical editor Ralph Naranjo contributed their expertise. And of course, for those who just came to share the boat show vibe, Cruising Outpost sponsored a beer and pizza party on Saturday night.

“NMMA is ready to work with the sailing industry in Southern California to grow this show and to grow sailing,’ said NMMA president, Thom Dammrich. “The seminar program is attracting a lot of sailors. We had thirty people in a seminar at 7:00 pm on Thursday and had to delay closing the show until the seminar finished. There’s already talk about next year.”

Although small, the show benefited from exhibitor enthusiasm and a positive buzz from show goers, with traffic up 24% on opening day and 30% on Friday. “I’m glad to see people showing up to support this new show,” said Martin Lynn of Sailology which sells an electric winch handle. “I think this new format will put the show back on the map, especially with sailors.”