Wind is back in the sails of the boating industry

Boating is speeding into a big-time recovery.

After several down years in the midst of a struggling economy, boaters are taking to the water like seldom before.

Nearly 89 million Americans went boating last year, one of the largest boating participation figures on record, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

That translates to increased sales and a better outlook for the industry. That is noticeable at the Kansas City Boat and Sportshow, which opened Thursday and will continue through Sunday at BartleHall.

“I think there was some pent-up demand when the economy was down,” said Becca Doyle, show director. “Now that things are getting better, boat sales are improving and more people are getting on the water.”

Doyle sees it in the number of dealers that are exhibiting at the Boat and Sportshow. There are 36 boating-related dealers, and they have almost 400 boats on display. That’s far more than in recent shows, Doyle said.

The stats tell the story:

▪ Boat sales last year increased to $37 billion, a 3 percent increase from the year before.

▪ There are more than 12 million registered boats in the United States.

▪ Boating is an All-American pastime. Ninety-five percent of the boats sold in the U.S. were built here.

▪ Americans not only are buying more new boats, they are purchasing more used boats, too. More than 955,000 used units were sold last year.

Missouri ranks high

OK, Missouri isn’t exactly the boating capital of the United States. It’s hard to compete with state such as Florida and California.

Nonetheless, the Show-Me State ranks an impressive 15th in the nation in number of registered boats, according to a survey by the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Missouri had 297,562 registered boats in the most recent survey and had total sales of $323 million of boats, motors, trailers and accessories. The state supports 726 recreational boating businesses and 10,000 jobs.

Kansas ranked 36th with 85,840 boats registered.

Florida led the nation in registered boats, followed by California, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.

More boats

The renewed excitement over boating also is evident at the Overland Park Boat Show put on by the Lake of the Ozarks Marine Dealers Association.

The event, which opened Thursday and will continue through Sunday, is docked at the Overland Park Convention Center. The show features displays of boats from Lake of the Ozarks dealers, including cruisers, runabouts, bass boats and personal watercraft.

Tickets cost $9 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 12.

Bassmaster tussle draws attention

Bass fans at the Kansas City Boat and Sportshow are still talking about the recent on-water confrontation between pros Ish Monroe and Cliff Poche in the Bassmaster Southern Open on Lake Toho in Florida.

The confrontation started when Monroe was waiting to pass through a lock when Poche’s boat entered the area and struck Monroe’s boat. A heated verbal exchange ensued and it escalated into physical contact when Monroe tried to jump onto Poche’s boat, according to a report on BassFan.com.

Monroe ended up in the water and Poche fell backward onto another fisherman’s boat. Monroe was later charged with battery and was booked into the Osceloa County (Fla.) Jail, where he was later released on $1,000 bail. Both fishermen were disqualified from the tournament and now await their fate with BASS, which is conducting an investigation.

Both fishermen have issued public apologies for their actions.

Ice-fishing clinic called off

Recent spring-like weather couldn’t have come at a worst time for organizers of an ice-fishing clinic.

The clinic, which was scheduled for Saturday at Mozingo Lake in northern Missouri, was set at a time when winter was acting like winter. But the Missouri Department of Conservation has canceled the event, due to the recent thaw and unsafe conditions.

Fisheries biologist said it might be rescheduled if cold weather returns.

To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to bfrazee@kcstar.com.


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