SailFest at Baltimore Boat Show Hailed As Great Success
Attendance increased 6% at the expanded new SailFest at the 54th Baltimore Boat Show that ran from Jan. 23-27 at the Baltimore Convention Center with exhibitors pleased at the number of high-quality sailing prospects and the attention-getting display of sailboats on an indoor replica pier.
Paul Matrangola, sales manager for Tidewater Marina of Havre De Grace and Annapolis, said he expects to see two or three boat sales as a result of Tidewater’s participation in SailFest.
“Attendance was good and they were a sailboat crowd,” said Matrangola. “The way we set the show up, with the grand walkway for sailboats meant all of the sailboats were in one section. Being on one dock was tremendous—it gave us our own venue and it worked very well.” Matrangola added, “We’re looking forward to next year. We see the show has tremendous potential for next year.”
Jack Heffner, vice president of Gratitude Yachting Center in Rock Hall, MD, also was impressed with the way the SailFest component of the Baltimore Boat Show was set up and run. “We were pleased with everything, probably more so than at any indoor show we’ve been to in the last 10 to 12 years,” he said, noting he would definitely be exhibiting his dealership’s line of Island Packet yachts at next year’s SailFest.
SailFest’s distinctive show venue was a 25,000-square-foot area dedicated to the sailing lifestyle that featured new keelboats, catamarans and skiffs “docked” along an indoor replica pier. More than 50 exhibitors, including Hunter, Catalina, Beneteau USA, Island Packet, Flying Scot Sailboats, and Tartan C&C Yachts of Annapolis displayed the latest models, while 34 sailing-specific booths featured designs in sails, rigging, gear, sailing lessons and equipment. Sailing professionals led seminars and special events for every level of sailors, from novices to advanced cruisers, while a sailing simulator taught show-goers how to maneuver the rigging of a sailboat.
Baltimore Show Manager Michael Duffy said attendance increased 6% this year from 20,237 to 21,544 show-goers. “Reports of sales from the floor were also good—despite the economic gloom spreading across the country,” he said. “The implementation of a five-day event, the addition of SailFest, plus our increased PR and media outreach combined to create a first-rate ‘can’t miss’ event.”
He noted that SailFest was an important step forward in giving the Mid-Altantic region a complete show experience, with future room to expand next year and add more sailing manufacturers and exhibitors. “The sail dock afforded sail dealers and manufacturers a winter showcase for the best offerings and we have some room to grow,” he said. “The seminars, too, were top-notch and well-received. We’re excited about expanding SailFest 2009, and bringing even more to the sailing community in the region.”
Sail America and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) launched the SailFest ventures last year at both the Baltimore Boat Show and the Virginia In-Water Boat Expo last September to stimulate sales and provide additional business opportunities to market to sailors in the Baltimore, Norfolk and Virginia regions.