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PBN HIGHLIGHTS COMMUNITY BOATING PARTICIPATION IN H2O ZONE
AT PROVIDENCE BOAT SHOW, 1/31 - 2/2 AT RI CONVENTION CENTER

Article excerpt:

An “H20 Zone” will showcase a fleet of small watercraft for all levels, along with experts and accompanying video. The zone will allow interested visitors to interact with experts and learn about the field without the pressure of having to buy anything, said John O’Flaherty, executive director of the Community Boating Center of Providence, a show partner.

“The idea is to have a fleet of sailboats and small watercraft available that people can see and touch and become acquainted with – in a low-pressure environment, not a sales-pitchy environment,” he said.

Learn more below or at PBN:
Read the full PBN article

Providence Boat Show

Interactive boat show marks RIMTA return

By Patricia Daddona - Staff Writer

Students from two different schools in Rhode Island will be building a 13-foot canoe on the floor of the Providence Boat Show, which runs Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

Boating enthusiasts eager to learn more about their avocation will find just as much to see and do here as those visitors in the market to buy a kayak, sailboat, or personal watercraft from more than 150 exhibitors. And everyone will get a chance to enjoy a renewed surge in boat sales both nationally and in Rhode Island.

“The broad idea is really to get all water enthusiasts to the show.” said Wendy Mackie, CEO of the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, which is running the show this year. “We’ve got young people heading into careers in the industry, so we’re showcasing how they’re learning about boating.

When people come, we want to be able to show them boats; and if you’re a boater, we want you to buy a boat here.”

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, recreational boating in Rhode Island has an annual economic impact of $508 million, with more than 35,000 recreational boats registered in the Ocean State, the bulk of them motorboats.

While the sale of new powerboats and sailboats increased nearly 11 percent in 2012 nationally, sales in Rhode Island did even better, the manufacturers association said in data provided to Providence Business News. Total retail sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2012 rose 46 percent over 2011, to $63.6 million from $43.6 million, the trade group said.

Organizers want to capitalize on that renewed interest.

“Without question, boat shows around the country were affected by the recession,” said Jonathan Banks, show director. “Several boat shows went out of business, some were canceled and started to come back and there’s been a certain amount of consolidation. What RIMTA is going to be able to offer is, one: the boating market is improving and [also] we’re seeing around the country what other boat shows have seen at 2013 winter shows. Many reported increased exhibit-space sales and attendance.”

When people stopped buying boats during the recession and afterward, promoters “had to get a little more creative” to keep people coming back, Banks said. That’s the reason for the emphasis on interactive experiences, he said.

Using the tag line, “Let the Boating Begin,” the management team organized by RIMTA has been promoting the show since the fall using every marketing tool imaginable, and put up a website, www.providenceboatshow.com, to help get the word out.

Students from Chariho Regional High School in Richmond and Warwick Veterans High School will be building the canoe, while Tiverton High School students will make sailboats and send them down water in a gutter with a fan.

Besides those draws, a multitude of interactive events will be held at the Show Pavilion within the R.I. Convention Center, including an exercising demonstration using surfboards, a boat-handling simulator operated by the Annapolis School of Seamanship of Annapolis, Md., and autograph signing by John Fulweiler, author of “A Swim: The Rhode Islander Who Refused To Drown,” said Tricia Yeoman, the show’s special-events coordinator.

“I wanted to make the show an interactive experience so that when guests come, not only do they see all the wonderful boats and items they can buy, but the experience makes them want to stay longer, feel more comfortable and be engaged with the show,” she said.

The boating season typically runs Memorial Day through Labor Day, but can start as early as April, depending on the boater, says Banks.

In addition to the boat build, an “H20 Zone” will showcase a fleet of small watercraft for all levels, along with experts and accompanying video. The zone will allow interested visitors to interact with experts and learn about the field without the pressure of having to buy anything, said John O’Flaherty, executive director of the Community Boating Center of Providence, a show partner.

“The idea is to have a fleet of sailboats and small watercraft available that people can see and touch and become acquainted with – in a low-pressure environment, not a sales-pitchy environment,” he said.

The show also will feature seminars on fishing and navigation skills, Mackie said.

Kent Dresser, the president and founder of Confident Captain/Ocean Pros, a trainer based in Newport, was working in December on presentations involving boat handling in close quarters and in stormy seas. He is interested in hooking new clients, but also wants to promote the industry.

“There’s a plaguing problem of boat owners not leaving their docks because they don’t feel comfortable handling the boat or hitting rough weather,” Dresser said. “Sometimes folks get out there and become uncomfortable. Our job is to help train people so they can enjoy their boats more.

“Anytime we can help promote better boating, it’s good for our business,” he said.

Of course, selling boats will still be top of mind at the show.

“The Providence Boat Show is really critical to the Rhode Island boating market,” Banks said. “It provides the exhibitors with the opportunity to display their products to boating enthusiasts. ... People are looking to buy new boats in time for the boating season.”

RIMTA has resumed show operations after a long hiatus filled since 2006 by the Newport Exhibition Group.

In October, RIMTA bought back the boat show for an undisclosed amount and hired its management team to revitalize it, choosing to add the interactive components and more of an emphasis on sailing, Mackie said. She declined to discuss the purchase price or the show’s history, but did say the boating industry is poised to improve as the economy improves, and RIMTA wants to be a part of that.

“Now that we own it, we have the creative rights to utilize the show as a vehicle to showcase the boating industry in Rhode Island as well as what boaters can do on land and on the water,” she said.

RIMTA also plans to “push out the message” that Rhode Island has no sales tax on boats, she added.

“That’s such a strong incentive to buy your boat in Rhode Island and keep it here,” she said. •

###

Community Boating Center (CBC) is a non-profit, 501c3 recreational organization offering all members of the community an opportunity to sail. Located in India Point Park, CBC provides outreach, sailing lessons and affordable access to the Providence waterfront. Gifts of cash or property to CBC may be treated as charitable donations for Federal Tax purposes.

For additional information contact:

John O'Flaherty
Executive Director
Community Boating Center
info@communityboating.com
tel: 401.454.SAIL (7245)

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Providence Boat Show

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