Boat show saw record crowds before wet weekend

The Palm Beach International Boat Show saw record crowds during its first two days, before wet weather caused attendance to fall, organizers said Wednesday.

Shoppers and browsers stroll through the International Boat Show on March 19, 2016. (Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Daily News)

Shoppers and browsers stroll through the International Boat Show on March 19, 2016. (Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Daily News)

The four-day boat show, in its 31st year, wrapped up on Sunday, offering more than 1,000 vessels, the largest number ever exhibited at the annual event.

Attendance during the first two days of the show —  Thursday, March 17 and Friday, March 18 — was up 28 percent over last year, organizers said.

But wet weather on Saturday and Sunday caused attendance to drop from 2015 levels, organizers said.

Meanwhile, the number of boats on display increased in all size categories, both in water and on land, organizers said.

The number of boats in water was up eight percent, with the 100-foot and larger category up 31 percent over 2015. Boats 80 to 100 feet in size saw an increase of 32 percent, organizers said.

“This show is now ranked among the largest boat and yacht shows in the nation and continues to grow across all size categories,” said Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, president of Show Management, the company that manages and produces the Palm Beach International Boat Show. “Record crowds on Thursday and Friday got the show off to a great start, and despite the rain over the weekend, exhibitor feedback was very positive about the show’s appeal to qualified buyers.”

Organizers expanded this year’s event to include a new pier within Palm Harbor Marina. The new space adds 30 slips capable of accommodating yachts up to 280 feet.

Organizers also added valet parking service to the show’s northern entrance, a change they gave guests easier access to some of the largest yachts on display.

“Despite traffic not being as strong due to weather, I think it was an excellent show for us,” said Chris Callahan, sales and charter broker with Moran Yacht & Ship. “For pedigree boats like the ones we had in the show, we don’t need a massive amount of traffic; just the right traffic. We had some great clients come in to visit our boats, so I think when all is said and done, this will be a great show for us.”

The show featured more than $1.5 billion worth of yachts, boats and accessories, organizers said.