Sailboat show reaches out to beginners


For several years, the concept of boat shows has been changing, with an eye toward introducing people to boating as well as to a wide range of boats and gear.

On Thursday, the United States Sailboat Show opens at the city docks in Annapolis, and it, too, has a new approach toward the old problem of getting new people hooked on sailing.

"The whole industry has been having trouble getting new people interested -- especially in the sailboat market," said Jeff Holland, who has been associated with the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis since the early 1970s. "They were selling over and over to the same people, who every few years were buying a different or larger boat."

The new approach, said Holland, is to build interest among new buyers through interactive displays.

"Rather than just looking at the new boats and equipment, people will be able to go to the demo dock, get on a boat and get out on the water and experience sailing." Holland said."

Among the boats available for demonstration sails are the Front Runner 19, Skimmer 25, Transfusion T 15.5, Viper 640 One Design and the new MX-Ray, designed by Vladislav Murnikov.

Murnikov designed the radical, round-the-world racer Fasizi, the first Russian entrant in the Whitbread Round the World Race a few years ago.

Holland said, "What Murnikov has done is take that same basic concept and scale it down to a small rocket ship cruiser."

Vanguard Racing Sailboats will have Optimist dingies for kids to sail under the supervision of certified instructors, along with Club 420s and Vanguard 15s.

"The boat show has always introduced people to the world of sailboats costing from $1,000 to $1 million," Holland said.

"But through interactive displays such as the kids' program, anyone can learn that if a 5-year-old can get a boat going over the course of a day or a weekend, you can, too.

"You just don't need three generations of yacht club experience to sail a boat."

Schooner cruises on Woodwind or Liberte, kayak tours and the popular DuPont Sailmaker Challenge race also will occur during the show.

For those who sail, the show offers a series of free seminars put on by US Sailing, Sailing World magazine and Bose in the ballroom of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel.

Topics include an introduction to sailing and the US Sailing keelboat certification system, a how-to session on on-board marine sound systems, outfitting a new boat for coastal cruising, healthy galley cooking, and cruising from the Chesapeake Bay to Florida and the Bahamas.

Seminars are free, but seats need to be reserved in advance. Call (410) 268-8828.

Not to be overlooked are more than 200 new designs on display in the water, along with hundreds of smaller craft, equipment, accessories and services based shoreside.

The largest boat in the show is the 95-foot sailing yacht Valkyrie, the new flagship of the Annapolis Sailing School.

The largest design for sale at the show is the 72-foot Ta Shing Dynasty, a high-performance world cruiser, with a transom that folds down into a boarding dock or swimming platform.

The Dynasty on display also has a piano in the main salon, and the boat was built after the piano was put in position.

The Annapolis show again will have the largest fleet of multihulls ever assembled for a show, ranging from 22 feet to 46 feet and all docked in one area.

Parking for the show is near the Rowe Boulevard Exit 24 south from Route 50. Shuttle buses operate continuously from the parking area to the city docks.

Facts and figures

What: United States Sailboat Show

Where: City Docks, Annapolis

When: Thursday through Oct. 14, opening at 10 a.m. each day. Thursday is trade/VIP day.

Admission: $25 per person on trade day, general admission $11 for adults and $5 for all children 12 and under Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

Information: (410) 268-8828

Pub Date: 10/06/96

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