Miami International Boat Show: Sailing On Dreams and Reality

There are many niche industry shows and festivals for us to attend, throughout the United States, from art to musical instruments, cars, home decor and upscale foods and wine– and of course boating. The 2024 Miami International Boat Show, February 14 through 18 was expansive, full of eye candy for those who love their boats and the many accessories available for the lifestyle. It was a destination event and also thrilled the local crowds.

S&P has covered other major events in the Magic City, such as the recent Art Basel Miami Beach, and I Pagliacci at the Florida Grand Opera; we just had to check out the Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show and see what went on. One of the most exciting aspects of the Boat Show was that it took place in six different locations, each with its charms and draws. The Miami Beach Convention Center hosted the main event, and other venues included Herald Plaza, Pride Park, Venetian Marina, Yacht Haven Grande Miami, and Museum Park Marina. Each area had its special features such as seminars, superyachts, sailboats, catamarans and more.

Boat enthusiasts and those who were plain curious came for a variety of reasons, especially to engage with the manufacturers and speak with those who design and build the vessels. Ticket prices ran the gamut, from $16.50 for the casual crowd, to $550 for the hard-core enthusiasts who wanted multiple options.

The website for the Show was dazzling and inviting, helpful so that visitors could plan out much of what they wanted to focus upon. (Think of it as the BoatCon, if you will, with all the information, maps, information and videos.)

Interested in what to see and do, I conferred with a few folks who Know Their Boats, for their insights. My high school classmate Jamie confessed to me that “Boat shows are fun!” She seemed intrigued by many of the models that were on display. And JB really gave me the scoop: when I caught up with her; she mentioned that “I literally just left the Miami Boat Show a few minutes ago.”

She told me that “we went so that we could learn more from specific vendors we wanted to meet. We are building a new boat and have to make a decision between two different vendors of navigation equipment. So we went to meet them and to learn whether the bigger price tag on one was worth it.”

BJ also told me that she liked the “vibe; it’s interesting and the people-watching is phenomenal. There are people like us kicking tires, if you will; and there are people looking to buy…having done their research and ready to pony up. Miami is different, hadn’t ever been to this one. Saw more women wearing designer brands and high heels than I have ever seen at a show. Normally you’d wear comfortable slip ons because you can’t wear shoes when going on a boat.”

So much of the Boat Show is outdoors, making it rather different from other industry festivals such as art, wine or beer, and other smaller tangibles. Boats tend to be large, seeing them displayed on water is breathtaking (and even dizzying at times), and they vary greatly in size; there were several pricey and sumptuous superyachts at the show.

An aspect of the Boat Show that could not be overlooked was the crowd of people. Many came to see the boats and accessories, true; but also to be part of a scene, and they want to be: this is a luxury industry, and serious boaters are investing a lot of money into their boats and their lifestyles. A cursory survey of the unofficial dress code showed that attendees were wearing casual, but a significant portion of that casual was actually luxury branded. Many of the boats on view at the Boat Show run into the multi-millions and it’s not just the boats and their maintenance, but also the destinations, including domestic destinations, the Caribbean and further afield.

Itama 62 RS

Four of the boats that I found most dazzling were the Itama 62 RS; the Riva 82 Diva; the Boston Whaler 365 Conquest; and the Lazzara Yachts “Lanida.” Their looks are what caught my eye initially, but they host features that are certainly inviting.

Riva 82′ Diva
Boston Whaler 365 Conquest

This was the first time in the U.S. that the Itama 62 was displayed, and people were fawning over its sharp style and speed. It has an impressively long foredeck and a top speed over 40 knots. I admired the design greatly.

The Riva 82 Diva made me chuckle due to its rhyming name, and it’s 82 feet of excitement. I liked that raked-back windshield and an actual beach club with fold-down bulwark terraces on each side. Whoa. Its top speed is 31 knots.

This Boston Whaler 365 has a retro look balanced with contemporary features, and the company is dubbing it the “SUV of the sea” for worthwhile reasons. But it looks sleek, and operates that way too.

The Lazzara Yachts “Lanida” first caught my eye because it does resemble a sea creature. Can’t deny that. “Lanida” means “free spirit” and this boat looks like a form of freedom, achieving a top speed of 31 knots.

These were among the most exciting models to see at the Miami Boat Show, at times an overwhelming experience.

My former schoolmate Tian, an avid boater and fisherman, asked me about Miami and offered a few insights: he emphasized the importance for serious boaters to go to shows “to see if there’s any new technology or equipment coming out” He avoids really expensive boats: “I’ll never get to own one…and you have to wait in line to board” them. For him (and many other serious boaters) the goal is to maximize one’s time and work within budget.

For most people who want to go out on the water it “relaxes me mentally just to be on the water.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is the heart of the matter: enjoying your time on a well-crafted boat. Attending a boat show such as the one in Miami can expand your dreams and goals to so many options and possibilities.

– S&P

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