Boat show opens in Annapolis tomorrow


October 05, 2005|By ANNIE LINSKEY

Thierry Torres sailed through a hurricane to deliver a 44-foot catamaran from France to Annapolis this week.

"It was either go through the winds or miss the boat show," he said after lowering himself from the boat's mast, where he was adjusting the rigging.

Torres, a native of Brittany, France, rode out Hurricane Philippe sitting on the boat's flying bridge, an open deck with a steering wheel. He didn't dare strap himself down to the deck with a lifeline. "If you capsize, it's a trap," he said.

Most workers setting up for the U.S. Boat Show in Annapolis this week did not have such adventure tales to tell, but many of the major manufacturers hawking their yachts agreed that having a presence at the annual show is essential.

"If you are an exhibitor selling a boat or a product, you cannot miss this show," said Tim Dowling, an operations manager with the show. "A large number of people who come to this show are interested in buying something."

Organizers expect 100,000 people to visit the show, where sailboats will be exhibited tomorrow through Oct. 10 and powerboats from Oct. 13 through Oct. 16.

Because the show is so big and complicated, Dowling and his teams of organizers didn't have much time to chat.

"Basically, we're converting downtown Annapolis into a 500-slip marina," he said. Later, he balanced on a wobbly dock, telling a crew where to pound down a temporary piling.

There will be 250 sailboats and 500 motorboats for sale, said Rick Franke, a show spokesman.

Before they can be sold, they must be polished.

Jack Heffner, a co-owner of Gratitude Yachting Center in Rock Hall, knelt on the teak deck of a 49-foot-long sailboat scrubbing the port window with marine fiberglass wax.

"If you think you're done, you're not ready," he said, with sweat beading on his forehead. "There is always one more thing to polish - or something to clean."

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