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Boat dealers see rising tide heading into 2016 Norwalk show – The …

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Tom Pilkington’s proclivity for boating has taken him to all points of the compass, from Long Island Sound to San Francisco for the 2013 America’s Cup. His day job as owner of Prestige Yacht Sales has him in far-flung ports on more than a few occasions, as well.

In short order, he will be able to take the bearings of other boaters just by walking out the door of Prestige’s offices at Norwalk Cove Marina, site of the annual Norwalk Boat Show that starts Sept. 22 — but he has a pretty good idea already of the general drift.


“We probably have had the best August that we’ve had in years — and I use August because traditionally that is always a very, very slow month — but leading up to the shows this year we’ve really had a blockbuster (month),” Pilkington said. “Our new boat business is well ahead of the past three years.”

That is the result of improved financial security on the part of boat owners and those looking to buy, Pilkington said, as well as continued low interest rates.

Any rising tide would reverse a losing streak for the boating industry in Connecticut, with recreational boat registrations down every year since the recession to just over 101,000 as of 2014, including pontoon party boats popular on the state’s lakes but excluding smaller vessels like canoes or dinghies. Connecticut’s 1.7 percent drop in boat registrations was in line with national trends, however, and manufacturers have sounded bullish about 2016 sales.

The CEO of MarineMax (NYSE: HZO) said same-store sales were up a whopping 44 percent in the second quarter during a July conference call reviewing the company’s results. The Clearwater, Fla.-based maker of Boston Whalers and Sea Rays has a dealership on Water Street in Norwalk across the harbor from Norwalk Cove Marina.

“There has been a little shift in the demographics with middle-class America … not active right now in our business. There are some, but not like it was,” said MarineMax CEO Bill McGill in July. “But the upper-middle class is very active right now, people that have incomes $150,000 and greater. … The financing part of it is getting about as easy as it’s ever been.”

The Norwalk Boat Show returns starting Thursday, Sept. 22, at Norwalk Cove Marina and running through Sunday, with the event offering both boats displayed for sale as well as activities for kids and adults.

In addition to nautical how-to and do-it-yourself forums, new attractions for this year include demonstrations of the JetSurf motorized surfboard and a display of the 72-foot Galeon 660 Fly yacht, which sells for $2.7 million. In all, 65 boat makes will be on display, sold by local brokers like Prestige in Norwalk and J. Catalano Sons in Greenwich, as well as direct from the manufacturers of makes like Chris-Craft, Hinckley and Sabre.

Organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association with sponsors including Progressive Insurance, Norwalk Boat Show tickets are $13 if purchased online in advance at www.boatshownorwalk.com with admission free for kids under age 16 accompanied by an adult, and discounts available for group purchases of 10 tickets or more.

The Norwalk Boat Show is the second of a season-end slate of Eastern seaboard shows that starts with next week’s Newport International Boat Show in Rhode Island, flowing into the mammoth Annapolis Boat Shows in October and reaching the finish line with the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in early November.

Pilkington is expecting bigger crowds at all of them, and says there is no better indication of the buoyancy of the boating industry today than the fact that the Norwalk Boat Show is adding an extra pier to accommodate all the vessels that will be on display, which shows confidence on the part of boat dealer’s that they will find plenty of serious shoppers in Norwalk.

The only thing left is to hope for clear skies, both on the meteorological and economic front.

“I think the boating business has rebounded quite a bit since 2006, 2007,” Pilkington said. “People feel a little more confident than they used to — it’s not doom and gloom; those were really tough years for us. … We just hope now for good weather and no hurricanes, and we’ll be in good shape.”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-354-1047; www.twitter.com/casoulman


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Boat dealers see rising tide heading into 2016 Norwalk show

Caption

Close


Tom Pilkington’s proclivity for boating has taken him to all points of the compass, from Long Island Sound to San Francisco for the 2013 America’s Cup. His day job as owner of Prestige Yacht Sales has him in far-flung ports on more than a few occasions, as well.

In short order, he will be able to take the bearings of other boaters just by walking out the door of Prestige’s offices at Norwalk Cove Marina, site of the annual Norwalk Boat Show that starts Sept. 22 — but he has a pretty good idea already of the general drift.


“We probably have had the best August that we’ve had in years — and I use August because traditionally that is always a very, very slow month — but leading up to the shows this year we’ve really had a blockbuster (month),” Pilkington said. “Our new boat business is well ahead of the past three years.”

That is the result of improved financial security on the part of boat owners and those looking to buy, Pilkington said, as well as continued low interest rates.

Any rising tide would reverse a losing streak for the boating industry in Connecticut, with recreational boat registrations down every year since the recession to just over 101,000 as of 2014, including pontoon party boats popular on the state’s lakes but excluding smaller vessels like canoes or dinghies. Connecticut’s 1.7 percent drop in boat registrations was in line with national trends, however, and manufacturers have sounded bullish about 2016 sales.

The CEO of MarineMax (NYSE: HZO) said same-store sales were up a whopping 44 percent in the second quarter during a July conference call reviewing the company’s results. The Clearwater, Fla.-based maker of Boston Whalers and Sea Rays has a dealership on Water Street in Norwalk across the harbor from Norwalk Cove Marina.

“There has been a little shift in the demographics with middle-class America … not active right now in our business. There are some, but not like it was,” said MarineMax CEO Bill McGill in July. “But the upper-middle class is very active right now, people that have incomes $150,000 and greater. … The financing part of it is getting about as easy as it’s ever been.”

The Norwalk Boat Show returns starting Thursday, Sept. 22, at Norwalk Cove Marina and running through Sunday, with the event offering both boats displayed for sale as well as activities for kids and adults.

In addition to nautical how-to and do-it-yourself forums, new attractions for this year include demonstrations of the JetSurf motorized surfboard and a display of the 72-foot Galeon 660 Fly yacht, which sells for $2.7 million. In all, 65 boat makes will be on display, sold by local brokers like Prestige in Norwalk and J. Catalano Sons in Greenwich, as well as direct from the manufacturers of makes like Chris-Craft, Hinckley and Sabre.

Organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association with sponsors including Progressive Insurance, Norwalk Boat Show tickets are $13 if purchased online in advance at www.boatshownorwalk.com with admission free for kids under age 16 accompanied by an adult, and discounts available for group purchases of 10 tickets or more.

The Norwalk Boat Show is the second of a season-end slate of Eastern seaboard shows that starts with next week’s Newport International Boat Show in Rhode Island, flowing into the mammoth Annapolis Boat Shows in October and reaching the finish line with the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in early November.

Pilkington is expecting bigger crowds at all of them, and says there is no better indication of the buoyancy of the boating industry today than the fact that the Norwalk Boat Show is adding an extra pier to accommodate all the vessels that will be on display, which shows confidence on the part of boat dealer’s that they will find plenty of serious shoppers in Norwalk.

The only thing left is to hope for clear skies, both on the meteorological and economic front.

“I think the boating business has rebounded quite a bit since 2006, 2007,” Pilkington said. “People feel a little more confident than they used to — it’s not doom and gloom; those were really tough years for us. … We just hope now for good weather and no hurricanes, and we’ll be in good shape.”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-354-1047; www.twitter.com/casoulman


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