Where it all begins

Annapolis is port of call for determining industry's success

October 07, 2001|By Joel McCord

In the world of boat shows, the back-to- back U.S. Sailboat and Powerboat shows in Annapolis have become the bellwethers for an industry that relies on discretionary spending for its success.

Do well in Annapolis, whether it's sales, orders or contacts, and probably you'll have a good year. If the attendance is down, the customers lukewarm about the latest products, then you have a problem.

"We pretty much look at Annapolis as the barometer for what's going to happen for the coming season," says Sharon Day, vice president of marketing for Catalina yachts.

The sail show closes Monday, and the powerboat show runs Thursday through Sunday at the City Dock downtown. Show organizers say some customers, perhaps leery of traveling in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, have asked for ticket refunds, but they still expect to sell out.

They always sell out, says John Peterson, director of sales and maketing for Hunter Marine. "That's why they're the biggest boat show in North America."

The sailboat show is in its 32nd year, the powerboat show in its 30th. They have grown so large that they take over the entire City Dock area and more than 230 floating docks assembled well into the Annapolis City Harbor to accommodate all the boats manufacturers bring with them.

The Annapolis city police department spends more than $100,000 a year in overtime to provide security around the show and to direct traffic that jams the narrow streets of the downtown Historic District and backs up onto U.S. Route 50. Show organizers direct visitors to park at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on the edge of town and ride shuttle buses to the dock area. The Naval Academy moved its football game with Air Force, scheduled yesterday at the stadium, to FedEx Field in suburban Washington at least partly to avoid the crowds in Annapolis.

The popularity of the Annapolis show stems from its setting and its timing, says Day.

"It's a beautiful location and a perfect time of the year," says Day.

Boat shows at a glance

32nd United States Sailboat Show

Where: Annapolis City Dock (see map)

When: Trade/VIP day, Oct. 4; general admission, Oct. 5-8. Show opens at 10 a.m. daily.

Admission: $25 per person for Trade/VIP day; $14 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under on general admission days.

30th United States Powerboat Show

Where: Annapolis City Dock (see map)

When: Trade/VIP day, Oct. 11; general admission days, Oct. 12 -14. Show opens at 10 a.m. daily.

Admission: $25 per person for Trade/VIP day; $14 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under on general admission days.

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