After a yearlong hiatus (2021 canceled), the Miami International Boat Show has returned! The biggest and baddest of the boat show circuit, MIBS is truly an experience and if you’re a boat nerd like me, it’s a must at least once in your lifetime. The Super Bowl of boat shows if you will. Frequented by most of the who’s – who’s in the industry and the vendors bringing their latest, greatest, biggest, and most groundbreaking offerings.
Moving back to the Convention Center here in 2022, the Miami Boat Show goes five straight days and actually spreads over 3-5 show locations (5 including the sister Miami Yacht Show) throughout Miami + South Beach. The Convention Center location featured boat manufacturer booths displaying under 49’ vessels, marine electronics, retailers exhibit, and other marine service providers & products.
Beyond the convention center, there are the on-water exhibits. Entire marinas are taken over so that OEMs and boat dealers can showcase in their natural habitat, in and on the water. This is my favorite part of the show. Being able to walk the docks to see 1000’s boats in every shape & size, ranging from mild to wild variations. With the latter being the most common. Wild.
If you’ve been tuned into what has been trending in the industry over the last decade or so, then you know it’s a full-blown arms race between boat builders making bigger, faster, more powerful sleds. Especially so in the center console segment. Anecdotally speaking, I will throw it out there that I saw more triple and quad+ outboard engine configurations on display than anything else. Oh, and those outboards, are growing to eye-popping specs. The darling of the segment is the 600 horsepower V12 Mercury Verado.
Another growing segment within that has been the re-emergence of cat-hulled boats. Same story as their traditional V hull brethren, builders continue to one-up each other and themselves in the category. Freeman Boatworks has been the leader in this space and in Miami Boat Show fashion, showcased their newly redesigned 43 front and center. Taking the spot of the ever-popular 42 Freeman, this is basically a “mini” (if I dare call anything about this boat mini) 47. I’ve been lucky enough to ride and fish Freemans, and the hype is real. It certainly would be in the “if I won the lottery” debate and an amazing platform for our long run, or run and gun style of fishing on the left coast of late.
On the more “obtainable” end of the spectrum, there were some very badass smaller fishing sleds on display too. Being that it’s Miami, almost all besides a handful of express cabin styles still fall under the Center Console segment. I tried to make an effort to grab some pictures of those that I think would be great “West Coast skiffs”.
My favorite of the bunch was the brand-new Parker 24cc. At first glance, it screams Parker with built-for offshore fishing DNA all over it. What really surprised me was the layout and niceties incorporated throughout, seemingly without trading off much, if any fish-ability. Powered with a single legendarily reliable Yamaha 300, this sled would be right at home out West!
Maybe the most notable emerging trend is “electrification”. A buzzword you’re likely familiar with within the automotive world is definitely finding its way on and into boats. Mercury again making waves in the outboard power space but this time with a fully electric motor.
Another really cool example was Nautique’s fully electric wake boat that was displayed on a custom trailer behind the new upcoming all-electric Hummer.
It still feels a little distant from my perspective, especially as an offshore angler, but an extremely exciting glimpse of what the future may hold. Certain applications already make a lot of sense and as battery technology continues to progress, it will be interesting to see where this segment goes.
The best way to summarize this year’s Miami Boat Show was palatable excitement to be back and immersed in all things boating and fishing. I myself very much included in that category. I think the larger trend of growth throughout the industry (Covid acting as a catalyst) will continue as hopefully some of the supply chain woes manufacturers are facing fade. As for the arms race on building monster center consoles with insane power, who knows where that ends. There certainly seems to be enough demand for them. It really is a fun time to be part of and all this boat & fishing talk from last week has me frothing to get back out on the water!!