Fall Boat Show Season Kicks Off in Newport

New models in power and sail and hundreds of items—from nautically themed jewelry to the latest in electronics and gear—await the crowds in Newport, Rhode Island.

September 14, 2013
Newport Boat Show
Thom Dammrich (far left), president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Harry Winthrop, mayor of Newport, Rhode Island, and Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport, delivered remarks on Thursday, the opening day of the Newport International Boat Show. Mark Pillsbury

The 43rd Newport International Boat Show opened on Thursday, September 12, 2013, with notes of optimism about the continued rebound in the power and sail sectors of the outdoor recreational industry and details about the 2015 stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race here.

A humid day typical for this time of the year greeted industry insiders and the public as they walked the docks and took in nearly 750 land- and water-based exhibits at the event, considered the kickoff the fall boat show season on the U.S. East Coast. Fortunately, the rain held off until Friday morning and the weekend is expected to remain clear. The show runs through Sunday, September 15, and the record number of exhibits and products promises a healthy attendance turnout. Winners of Newport for New Products, a program in its 8th season that’s the official debut of 2014 boat models, equipment and gear, were announced Friday morning. Click here to see photos.

Before sharing a healthy dose of statistics that prove power and sail are making a decent comeback from the latest U.S. recession, Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, popped a two-question quiz on the audience at the afternoon State of the Industry press conference at the Newport Yachting Center.


“What are the two best days of a boater’s life?” Dammrich asked.

“Saturday and Sunday!” the audience sung out.

“What does the word B-O-A-T stand for?”


“Best of All Times!”

Then Dammrich whipped out the facts. He was assisted by the NMMA’s 2013 State of the U.S. Recreational Boating Industry, which incorporates data from the 2013 North American Sailing Industry Study, the annual report commissioned by the Sailing Company, which includes Cruising World and Sailing World.

Among them:


-Almost one out of five dollars consumers spent on outdoor recreation went to boating and fishing

-More than 2 out of 3 consumer dollars spent on boating go toward boats, engines, and accessories

-Total annual economic value of boating is $121.5 billion, from 34,833 businesses employing 338,526 people


– Total retail expenditures on boating rebounded in 2012 to $35.59 billion, a 10 percent increase over the previous year.

-There are 16 million recreational boats owned in the United States

-Of theses, 12.1 million are registered by the states

-100,000 are documented vessels by the U.S.C.G. that are also not registered by the states

-And 3.8 million are non-registered boats – mainly canoes, kayaks, rowboats, small sailboats and other non-motorized boats

-In 2012 there were 12.1 million boats registered by the states: 7.4 million were outboard boats; 1 million inboards; 1.4 million sterndrive boats; 1.3 million personal water craft boats; 240,000 sailboats; and 760,000 other

-During 2012 sailboat retail unit sales increased 29 percent compared to the previous year – 6,000 units versus 4,600 units, though still a long way to go from the 2001 high of 18,600

-85 percent of the new sailboats sold in 2012 were less than 20 foot in length

-60 percent were in the 12- to 19-foot length category

“Boating is a middle class lifestyle,” Dammrich continued. “And it’s an industry that provides middle class jobs.”

He added that the industry needs to do a better job engaging youth and minorities, and urged the audience to remain vigilant and up to date on legislation affecting the industry.
The complete report is available online here.

Serving up a summary of the two-week Newport stopover in May 2015 of the 8 teams competing aboard 65-foot carbon fiber monohulls in the Volvo Ocean Race was Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport, organizer of the event.

“This is a national event and sailing’s premiere round the world race and it’s the first time it’s here in Newport,” Read said. The event takes place over two weeks from May 3 to 17, 2015, at Ft. Adams, which was also the site of the America’s Cup World Series in June 2012.

Like the AC event, the Volvo Newport stopover promises more than race watching. Entertainment, art, environmental educational displays, food, a rugby tournament and youth programs are planned, as well as 24/7 viewing in all media, Read said. Sponsorships and partnerships are available, he added.


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