Crowds Flock to Miami International Boat Show

Visitors looking for new boats and the latest electronics filled the aisles at this year's Miami International Boat Show. The five-day event was held at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Florida in mid February.

Show Manager and VP of NMMA Boat Shows Division, Cathy Rick-Joule reports attendance at 100,689. "Consumer confidence is improving, as is the housing market,' says Rick-Joule. "In the shows we produce, starting with the New York show, we have seen a consistent pattern of really strong buyers, people opening their wallets and really getting out.'

This year, the event showcased more than 3,000 boats and 2,000 companies. While many manufacturers routinely unveil their latest new products and programs at the show, much of the consumer attention surrounded new developments in joystick control systems.

Yamaha Motor highlighted three newer products at its booth. In addition to a new 200hp four stroke and 150 V-Max SHO, the company had a virtual simulator for its new Fully Integrated Boat Control System. "Our Fully Integrated Boat Control System is going to change the way people boat with larger twin and triple outboard configurations,' says Yamaha Motor's Division Marketing Manager, Dale Barnes. "It's going on smaller boats than we would have originally thought it might. It is functional with our 4.2L V6 and 5.3L V8 – or 225hp on up. This system is sold to builders who configure it into their boats. It makes boating much more convenient and it brings intuitive control into the equation.'

Mercury Marine introduced its joystick piloting system for outboards at the show as well. The system allows an operator to move a multi-engine outboard-powered boat in any direction, including sideways, diagonally or spinning on its own axis. Mercury's joystick piloting system includes Skyhook virtual anchor, VesselView engine information display and an integrated autopilot system. Mercury's Auto Heading technology allows the captain to maintain course and make precise corrections. One-degree heading adjustments can be made with the joystick and 10-degree adjustments can be accomplished using the control panel. The joystick system can be installed on boats powered by two to four Verado engine ranging from 250hp or 300hp.

BRP's Evinrude outboards are now compatible with the new Optimus 360 integrated power steering and joystick docking control system. Optimus 360 by SeaStar is specifically designed for boats running twin Evinrude E-TEC V6 outboard engines that are equipped with the Evinrude ICON electronic shift and throttle (EST) system. "This technology will improve the overall steering experience at all speeds and greatly reduce the stress level felt by operators as they maneuver in tight situations,' said Larry Koschak, Senior Product Specialist at BRP's Evinrude Outboard Engine Division. Optimus 360 will be available for installation from authorized Evinrude E-TEC boat builders and dealerships beginning April 2013.

Yanmar America also announced the launch of its joystick control system, available on its Yanmar 8VL 320 mph and 370 mhp diesel sterndrives in twin configurations. It's said to be capable of sideways and diagonal movement as well as rotation within a boat's length.

New boat model announcements were numerous at the show as usual. Nautic Global Group introduced a new Hurricane SunDeck 2690 OB. Monterey had its three newest bowriders on display, the 288 SS, 234 Super Sport and 197 FS Sport Boat. Starcraft Marine had two new deck boats on display, the SCX 200 OB and SCX 201. Four Winns launched its brand new S265 cruiser, which adopts the company's lime and black RS colour scheme that has proved successful on its bowrider models. Sea Ray premiered its new 220 and 240 Sundeck models, available in sterndrive or outboard versions. Cruisers Yachts announced limited edition models in recognition of the company's 60th anniversary, including the Cruisers Sport Series Black Diamond 320 SS bowrider and Black Diamond 45 Canitius yacht. Larson displayed its special 100th anniversary model, the All American 23 bowrider. Chris Craft unveiled its Carina 21 bowrider, featuring a distinctly new styled bow. Harris Flotebote's sleek profiled Crowne 250 was on display in the show's outdoor exhibit area and was the recipient of an Innovation Award in the Pontoon and Deck Boats category.

Next year's Miami International Boat Show is scheduled to run from February 13 to 17 inclusive.

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