2018-09-13 / Front Page

Harboring a Passion

Newport Boat Show Returns to Waterfront
By Rob Duca

The Newport International Boat Show encompasses 13 acres of Newport’s downtown waterfront. Exhibitors from near and far offer a full range of new powerboats and sailboats, plus a full-range of marine products, services and accessories. The harbor will also boost the Bowen’s Wharf Newport Wooden Boat Show where the best builders and restorers will showcase their craftsmanship. In-water exhibitors will be at Bowen's Wharf Marina and on-land exhibitors will be arranged throughout the historic wharf property and under the festival tents. Free admission daily. There is also a water shuttle which will connect ticketed passengers to Jamestown, Newport International Boat Show and Newport Brokerage Boat Show.

For nearly 50 years, the Newport International Boat Show has served as the kickoff for the fall boating season by unveiling the hottest new boats and products from hundreds of manufacturers and dealers. The 48th annual event, which runs Sept. 13-16 along the city’s downtown waterfront, also provides visitors with a variety of educational opportunities, including hands-on training in power-boating, sailing, navigation, reading the weather and anchoring techniques.

Many of the boats and marine products on display will be making their debut in the United States, while visitors will be able to take a sailing excursion aboard the 200- foot Tall Ship SSVB Oliver Hazard Perry, which is docked at Fort Adams State Park.

On Sept. 15, Jerome Rand will give a presentation about his around-the-world solo journey, which lasted 271 days aboard his 32-foot sailboat, Mighty Sparrow. Rand will speak from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Bohlin Tent, and he will also greet visitors at a daily rum tasting from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Bitter End Rambler, located at the Bohlin patio.

The show’s charitable partner, United States Power Squadrons, will provide instruction on weather and boating technology. The hour-long seminars, which are free, will be held at the Newport Blues Café. There will also be programs offering instruction from professional boat captains that will cater to boaters of all skill levels, including beginners.

The annual “Newport for New Products (NFNP)” awards program will unveil the latest lineup of new boats and products. Visitors to the show on Sept. 14 will be able to cast their vote for the NFNP People’s Choice Award, with one voter selected at random winning a $250 gift card. Category winners will be announced on Sept. 15 for Best New Sailboat, Best New Powerboat and Best New Products for navigation and safety.

The boat show is being held concurrently with the Newport Brokerage Boat Show, which will be displaying more than 100 vessels, ranging from 60 to 185 feet, at the Newport Shipyard. Continuous water shuttle service will transport visitors between the shows. At the same time, the Newport Wooden Boat Show will be taking place at Bowen’s Wharf, where the Herreshoff S Class will preview its 2019 centennial celebration.

Next year, there will be a significant addition to the boat show. Recently, the Newport Exhibition Group, owners and producers of the international event, announced that the 2019 show will partner with the new Hammetts Wharf Hotel that is being built on the show grounds.

“We have received many questions about… the [hotel’s] effect on the Newport International Boat Show,” Nancy Piffard, show director of Newport Exhibition Group, said in a press release. “First, there are no site changes to the 2018 show. It is business as usual… The Newport International Boat Show is here to stay. We have a long-term lease with the Newport Yachting Center owners… The proposed finish date of the hotel is June 2020 and we are excited to see how it benefits the Newport waterfront and the boat show.”

The hotel construction, which will begin following this year’s show, will force relocation of some of next year’s exhibitors. But it will also provide additional lodging, conference rooms, a restaurant and an outdoor café.

Sam Bradner, a partner with Peregrine Group LLC, the hotel’s project manager, said in a press release that his company “looks forward to working closely with Newport Exhibition Group to ensure minimal impact during construction.”

Outside construction will be halted during next year’s show.

For more information on this year’s show, visit newportboatshow.com.

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