Record sails, if not sales, expected at boat show

More vessels, vendors slated this year for event held annually

October 02, 2001|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

Annapolis will undergo its annual October transition this week as hundreds of sailboats and thousands of sailors arrive at the harbor for the United States Sailboat Show.

Showing off its strength as the self-proclaimed "Sailing Capital of the World," Annapolis is expecting about 50,000 sailing enthusiasts to land here for the four-day event billed as the nation's largest in-water sailboat show.

The event, which will run Thursday through Monday - and will be followed by a similarly significant powerboat show from Oct. 11 through 14 - will feature about 270 boats at more than 200 floating docks stretching out from the City Dock.

On land, about an equal number of smaller boats, including dinghies and inflatables, will be shown, and more than 400 vendors will peddle marine products and services.

Jim Barthold, general manager of Annapolis Boat Shows Inc., which presents the show, called it "representative of the sailing industry in this country and the world."

This year, the show will feature more docks, more boats and more vendors than it did last year, which Barthold said reflects the industry's support of the Annapolis show.

Visitors will see boats ranging from 8-foot dinghies that cost about $1,000 to the largest boats, two 65-footers with price tags surpassing $1 million. Some 21 boats are new models, and many will make their show debut at the Annapolis event.

One growing area of the show is its Multihull Lagoon, which will feature 45 catamaran and trimaran boats this year. Barthold called this "the largest fleet of catamarans at any boat show anywhere in the country at any time."

The multihull boats afford more room than a monohull sailboat, which might be why their popularity is increasing. While a 50-foot monohull could have a 16-foot beam, a 50-foot multihull could be as wide as 40 feet, Barthold said.

Although the number of boats and vendors has increased for this year's show, organizers aren't counting on a comparable increase in sales.

Last year was a record year for the industry, and with an economic downturn intensified by last month's terrorist attacks, Barthold said he doubts this year will be a record-breaker. But he said he is optimistic that attendance and sales, which he says have been only slightly diminished at recent shows elsewhere, will be good.

Clare Vanderbeek, vice president of marketing for the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau, said tourism officials are "expecting very strong numbers for the boat shows despite the devastating events of Sept. 11."

"People are trying to get back to business and continue to have a brief escape from the day-to-day news," she said.

To attend the United States Sailboat Show, take U.S. 50 to Exit 24, Rowe Boulevard, and follow the signs. Paid parking is available at Navy-Marine Corps stadium with free shuttle service downtown.

Admission to the Trade/Press/VIP day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday is $25. General admission Friday through Monday is $14 for adults and $7 for children age 12 and younger. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.

Information: 410-268-8828.

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