- With a 2 percent increase in attendance compared to last year, the 2018 United States Sailboat and Powerboats shows held in Annapolis, MD at the beginning of October had a lot to offer visitors—including the show's new tagline, "Come for the show, leave with a lifestyle."
- The Sailboat show put hundreds of boats on display including an impressive selection of large multihulls from builders such as Fountaine Pajot, Lagoon, Leopard, Bavaria, Balance, Bali, Seawind, Catana, Outremer and the HH Catamarans.
- The Powerboat show had 700 boats on display and offered on-water training provided by the BoatUS Foundation. Fishing boat models were shown from 50 manufacturers. Seventeen premiering and new models from 24 to 65 feet were there as well as a slew of brokerage boats.
- See all new powerboat and sailboat listings on boats.com, or read our feature, Boat Show Strategies: Make the Most of Your Day.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a sailor or a power boater, there’s one place you simply must be in October—Annapolis, Maryland. Every year, the first and second weeks of this autumn month change the Annapolis waterfront to a boaters’ mecca with the United States Sailboat and Powerboat shows.
This year, an unprecedented number of combined exhibitors committed to bringing boaters a multitude of shopping and learning opportunities. Charter companies, boat brokers, local marine businesses, sailing schools, accessory and apparel manufacturers, yacht clubs and others had booths along downtown’s Ego Alley and out on the docks. The Sail show lured thousands of like-minded individuals this year, a 2% increase in attendance over last year. Meanwhile, the Power show followed immediately after at the same venue in historic Annapolis, right next door to the United States Naval Academy. There’s no more salty setting than this and as boaters prepare for winter, it’s always a welcome last hurrah of the season and a fun time to boot.
From kayaks and inflatables, to electric engines, Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) and giant multihulls, if it sailed, motored, paddled and generally floated, it was on display. Island Packet debuted its first model in 15 years priced under $300,000 and sold one within 90 minutes of the show opening. The show organizers’ tag line of “Come for the show, leave with a lifestyle” was certainly apropos.
The sail show put hundreds of boats on display including an impressive selection of large multihulls from French, German, Chinese and South African builders such as Fountaine Pajot, Lagoon, Leopard, Bavaria, Balance, Bali, Seawind, Catana, Outremer and the HH Catamarans 55 that drew long lines of spectators.
Vacation Basin, which is dedicated to chartering and charter boat ownership, welcomed a new addition—the Mediterranean Corner where 10 Med-based charter companies highlighted the growing popularity of Croatia. To bring in curious potential charterers, 10 weeks of charter vacations were raffled off. Meanwhile, Katie Baker of Leopard Catamarans that works with The Moorings among other charter partners, reported more than 2,000 leads generated and several boats sold.
The schooner Woodwind offered cruises on the Chesapeake and a floating VIP lounge was available at an additional fee for those who wanted to rest and escape the crowds. Cruiser’s University offered more than 40 courses and the interactive “Take the Wheel” workshop sold out. The sheer number of new boats is a testimony to what an important event this has become to the marine industry. “We see it as our mission to encourage the growth of sailing, and we are always designing new programs to attract more boaters to the lifestyle and to Annapolis," said Annapolis Boat Shows’ president, Paul Jacobs.
The Power show had 700 boats on display and offered on-water training provided by the BoatUS Foundation. Fishing boat models were shown from 50 manufacturers. Seventeen premiering and new models from 24 to 65 feet were there as well as a slew of brokerage boats. “Not only has the size of the power boat show grown by more than 30% over the past four years, attendance has grown as well," added Jacobs.
MarineMax Vacations, that offers charters on powercats in the British Virgin Islands, raffled off a seven-day charter with the runner-up receiving an inflatable SUP by CaribeSUP. Cruisers University and free seminars kept the education flowing and 11 boat and engine manufacturers offered a “try before you buy” program on the Demo Dock.
The United States Sail and Powerboat Shows are internationally acclaimed spectacles that together or separately, are destination venues. Attendees come from all fifty states plus over 27 foreign countries. According to a recent economic impact computer simulation, more than $112 million was injected into the Annapolis economy during the first two weeks of October. It’s also estimated that the shows support 10,000 jobs and result in $15 million in federal, state and local taxes.
But beyond the statistics, it’s all about the feel of the place during this time. There’s a vibe in the air that is unlike that at any other boat show. Nobody it seems, leaves empty-handed even if they already own a boat and aren’t looking for equipment for outfitting. At the very least, most will buy apparel or sunglasses and of course, they’ll stay for the many parties on the docks and in nearby restaurants and pubs.
Every day at the show’s end, Pusser’s sends servers out on the docks with platters of their famous Pain Killer cocktails so exhibitors and attendees can purchase much-needed refreshment without even having to enter the bar. For weary show-goers, local restaurants serve up oysters and crab cakes as boaters prepare for dreaming of boating throughout a long winter.
You don’t need to be a boater to enjoy these shows, but maybe if you do attend, you’ll become a convert and leave with a new lifestyle yourself.
Looking for more boat show-related news?
Read the latest 2018 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Preview, or catch up from news from Annapolis that you may have missed in the 2018 Annapolis Spring Boat Show Preview.