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The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Wraps Up

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this year saw fewer attendees but more serious buyers.

Nov 02, 2021 | By Sarah Ridzwan
fort lauderdale international boat show
Image: Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) closed on Sunday (October 31) after a busy five-day run, with organisers reporting strong attendance and yacht exhibitors saying they had more serious buyers this year.

The number of superyachts on display this year was down compared to previous editions, as well as a lack of European boating executives  — largely due to the US-imposed travel ban on Europe.

CEO of International Yacht Company, Stefanos Macrymichalos, mentioned in an interview: “We saw a much smaller show than in years past. But I think it was a much better event for those interested in purchasing or chartering yachts. We didn’t see people coming to the show for entertainment purposes.”

Still, there were plenty of scene-stealer superyachts such as the 251-foot Boardwalk, which is the largest yacht in the show. Visitors were allowed to tour this custom Feadship and according to an executive, the yacht was seen by quite a number of billionaires.

Macrymichalos said that 2021 is expected to be a record year for his charter and brokerage firm, with multiple brokerage yachts in inventory being sold and the number of charter weeks for its fleet going up 35 per cent this year. “We’ve also seen a lot of charterers who now want to buy their own yachts making transactions,” he said. “It started in August 2020 and hasn’t stopped since.”

Fraser Yachts also quoted similar increases in brokerage sales and its charter activity went up by 58 per cent in 2020. “Last year was one of our best years ever — we more than doubled sales over 2019,”  said Michael Busacca, COO of Fraser Yachts, at a press conference.

ferretti group riva 88 folgore
Image: Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

“We saw the biggest growth in the 79 to 115-foot segment, with sales up 80 per cent — and 40 per cent of those were first-time buyers.”

Many yacht builders also used the FLIBS to debut yachts. Viking Yachts debuted its 63 Convertible, while sister company Valhalla displayed its new 46 centre console.

Ocean Alexander’s 35R won Best in Show and attracted a few crowds wanting to see the world premiere and also sold its second hull at the show. Ferretti Group also had four US debuts including the Pershing 6X, Ferretti Yachts 1000, Ferretti Yachts 780 and Riva 88 Folgore.

pershing 6X
Image: Ferretti Group

Other yacht builders also reported strong sales even before the show. Federico Ferrante, president of Azimut-Benetti USA said its new Verve 42 had 14 sales before it even landed from Italy for its global FLIBS debut, while sister company Benetti’s Oasis 34M, which has not been completed, has attracted 20 orders.

Italian builder Sanlorenzo, who hosted a global debut of its SL 106A and US premieres of its SL96A and Bluegame BGX70, said it had doubled its sales in the US over the past year. Its chairman Massimo Perotti said 50 per cent of its sales are to first-time buyers. He also noted there were a lot of first-time buyers jumping into the business.

Most of the exhibitors at FLIBS agree that the frenzy for boats will continue. 

“Yachts seem to be one of the safest havens for people with wealth,” Macrymichalos said. “But it’s not just for people with wealth — it’s extending across the board and there seems to be no signs of a slowdown.”

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