By tradition, the first day of FLIBS is industry day, with lots of business getting done, booth setup still progressing, and happy launch celebrations. From the Welcome Breakfast, to the dock walk evening and party with friends from The Italian Sea Group, it was a wonderful start to the show.

The VIP Pass

With the new VIP status available at the show, many of the more popular yachts were getting attention from well qualified buyers with schedules full of brokers and buyers filling the day, indicating a healthy mix of attendees early on. The VIPs were enjoying a streamlined viewing process through concierge services, assisting in booking and directing attendees to the yachts, as well as valet parking and a scrumptious array of gourmet treats at the specially arranged Windward Club on the water at the Swimming Hall of Fame. The VIP pass is a step toward refining the show, offering valuable advantages to the privileged buyer. I’ve been promised a peek at the club on Friday, so look for photos then.

Benetti Facedock Booth

Benetti Facedock Booth

Benetti Announcements

A mid-day presentation by Benetti’s Fabio Ernesti spoke highly of the addition of the US location with a new office in Ft. Lauderdale one year ago. Confirming the decision as a good one, Fabio announced 18 signed contracts in the Americas, with a total of 45 yachts between 30 and over 100 meters under construction. Adding to his enthusiasm for the Americas market, Benetti has sold ten hulls between 125 and 140 meters, nine of which have buyers from North and South America. The big announcement came with the new Benetti 116, with hull #1 sold and scheduled for delivery in 2016. This new Mediterraneo debuted at the Cannes show this year, and is expected to be on display in Ft. Lauderdale at the 2016 show.

Miami Intl. Boat Show

Miami Intl. Boat Show Stadium Project

Miami Marine Stadium and 2016 Miami International Boat Show

A mid-afternoon meeting to discuss another show was aimed at quashing rumors of its demise, and that it did. Plans for the 2016 Miami International Boat Show were displayed by Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso, National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thomas Dammrich, and Vice President Kathy Rick-Joule. Plans that are underway, progressing rapidly, and jump-starting the revival of the currently shuttered Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin on Virginia Key are ambitious, but happening, so buy tickets now if you plan to go. Emphasis on water taxis, shuttle buses, and a gorgeous view of the Miami skyline headed the agenda, with assurances that the city is well-prepared to handle the event in this historic location. If you’d like to drive to Virginia Key, grab a parking pass early as a very limited number of those will be offered.

Italian Sea Group Party

Italian Sea Group Party

An Italian Sea Group Welcome

Closing out the evening in an understated elegant style, The Italian Sea Group hosted friends dockside for a buffet, cocktails, and social hour. An engaging group with such style and simply beautiful yachts, with exquisite attention to detail down to the last hand stitch on leather furnishings, the Motor Yacht Nono nodded approvingly. Hoping to hop on board soon for a peek inside, it’s time to head to the show. Check back with The Best of Yachting, and the best of the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, in the next update.