National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Boating Writers International (BWI) recognized 10 marine products for innovation at this year's Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail. Eight products received 2013 Innovation Awards and two received Honorable Mentions during NMMA's State of the Recreational Boating Industry Breakfast, held February 14 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
"As judges, every year we see dozens of terrific products and debate the definition of innovation,' said Zuzana Prochazka, Innovation Awards Judge Chair. "We had a really impressive group of entries this year and look forward to seeing those recognized today enter the marine marketplace.'
In addition to Prochazka, other panel judges included Nigel Calder, Author of Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual and Marine Diesel Engines; Charlie Doane, Cruising Editor for Sail magazine and blogger at Wavetrain.net; Ann Key, Managing Editor of Practical Sailor magazine; Lenny Rudow, Senior Editor for Dominion Marine Media; Alan Wendt, first Vice President of BWI; and, Jason Wood, Senior Editor at Power & Motoryacht magazine.
Eight Innovation Awards and two Honorable Mentions were presented in the following categories:
Consumer Electronics, Mobile Applications and Software
Dragonfly by Raymarine: Raymarine's affordable high-performance Dragonfly Sonar/GPS makes the power and crisp detail of CHIRP sonar available to inland and coastal saltwater anglers. "In a short period of time, Raymarine has not only brought high dollar fishing power to low dollar budgets, but has enhanced the capabilities,' said Rudow.
Honorable Mention: B & G SailSteer and SailTime by Navico
Mechanical & Electrical Systems
50 amp Inlet & Connector by SmartPlug Systems: SmartPlug Systems' 50 amp inlet and connector offers increased pin and connector clip contact area –maximizing electrical transfer while eliminating excessive heat. "The SmartPlug solves a longstanding problem which, over the years, has caused numerous fires and cost millions of dollars in damages,' noted Doane. "They have demonstrated great persistence in overcoming regulatory hurdles and industry intransigence.'
Personal Gear, Soft Goods, Watersports and Fishing Equipment
Locking Pickup Truck Rod Rack by Boat Outfitters: The first locking, removable rod rack for use in pickups is a unique stainless cable system which allows safe, theft-free transportation of the expensive rod and reel combos. Rudow added, "The Rod Rack solves an age-old problem all anglers face: broken or stolen rods in transit. If you own a pickup truck, a boat and fishing rods, you'll want one.'
Pontoon and Deck Boats
Crowne 250 by Harris FloteBote: Harris FloteBote combines a comprehensive and innovative list of features and amenities in the Crowne 250, including a specially-designed Sport Arch. Key said, "The Crowne 250 is an elegant pontoon with real feng shui that's so comfortable, you'll want to drive it into your living room.'
Power Boats (25' to 60' including Fishing Craft)
370 Venture by Sea Ray: The Sea Ray 370 Venture uniquely incorporates patent-pending outboard engine technology in a fiberglass express cruiser powered by fully concealed outboard engines. "Finally, we have another option when it comes to powering a mid-sized cruiser: a pair of hidden four-stroke outboards that increases interior volume and creates a luxurious master cabin,' said Wendt.
Honorable Mention: 325 Center Console by Belzona
Propulsion Inboard and Outboard
Deep Blue by Torqeedo: Deep Blue is the world's first industrially produced 80 HP electric outboard powered by batteries adapted specifically for the marine environment. "This is a fully engineered system from the propeller all the way to the batteries,' noted Calder.
PWC and Jet Boats
Yamaha 192 Series with Thurst Directional Enhancer by Yamaha WaterCraft: Yamaha 192 Series boats feature a single supercharged engineâ€”an innovative yet inexpensive solution to maximize control and maneuverability. Doane added, "The TDE system is an effective and low-cost innovation that enhances low speed maneuverability for jet boats.'
Runabouts and Fishing Craft to 24 Feet
230 Vantage by Boston Whaler: The 230 Vantage seamlessly blends comfort, versatility and handling in one remarkable dual console model. Noted Wood, "The 230 showed amazing versatility in a small space defined by innovative seating and quality execution.'
The Innovation Awards, organized by NMMA and judged by BWI, recognize products that best meet the following criteria: innovative distinction from other products currently being manufactured; benefit to the marine industry and/or consumer; practicality; cost-effectiveness; and, availability to the consumer within 60 days of award receipt.