Most people do not know it but Minnesota has the highest boat per capita in the United States. Further then that Minnesota boats have the lowest average hours used on those boats in the United states. It all stems from us having so much water (i.e. Land of 10,000 Lakes) which leads many people either to have a cabin up north or just enjoy time out on a lake somewhere during the summer months. The reason we have the lowest average hours on those boats is simple, we have a short summer. Since we have so many boats/boaters the Minneapolis Boat Show is one of the best places for boat sales men to meet quotas. Many of the sales people on the floor at the show actually told me that this show is where they sell the most boats out of the entire year.
When I started this blog I said I would write about anything with a spark plug. The first comment I got back was, well diesel engines do not have spark plugs. To that I say touché. I also say boats have engines, some of them massive, and those engines have spark plugs so here goes.
There were many vendors as well as boats at the show. The state of our economy was evident a the show most noticeably some prominent OEM manufactures were absent due to bankruptcy filings. These included Crestliner, Lund, Glastron, and many more. One of the first things that struck me as I was walking the show floor is the jet skis. When I was a kid jet skis were quickly becoming popular. Years ago they were truly personal water craft. Sure some said they fit three but that was in a pinch. Now these things are literally huge! If you saw a jet ski from 15 years ago next to a brand new one you would be shocked at how much they have grown in mass. Along with the mass is the engine. The average jet ski in 1995 would top out around 45-50 mph. That was fast enough for a recreational small water craft. Now if you buy a jet ski they can top out at over 80-90 mph!! I ride jet skis during the summer and know exactly what people do when on them including full throttle 360’s. I do not know if doing a 360 at 80 mph would be considered safe. I can throw myself off a jet ski doing a 360 at full throttle as it is, now if I was going twice as fast, I could imagine a trip to the emergency room or worse. I can see on open water why going fast in a straight line would be useful, but I know what many people do on jet skis and this could get dangerous!
Like cars many people buy old boats and restore them. One company in particular that stood out to me was Shipwreck Boat Repair. They had a 1990 Donzi Classic 18 on display that had been fully restored. With a small block V8 that had been completely redone including a pro charger supercharger. This engine had already been hooked up to a dyno and is putting out 575 hp with 11 lbs of boost after all modifications and restoration. A mere four months and now the boat is gorgeous and looks like new. With a great white on blue color scheme the boat is terrific looking. The total bill came to $30,000 for the restore including the engine. While some of you may think that is a ton of cash on a boat, you do not even want to know what a new Donzi would cost.
Many thanks to Cydney Wuerffel for taking the video.
The show had more then just boats and jet skis. Two huge tanks of water were set up with ramps in between them. This was used for wake board shows. Top professionals were on hand doing multiple shows for crowds. Using a machine to tow them through the first tank they would launch off the ramps doing flips, twits, and much more only to land in the second tank. It was a very cool extra to have at the show.
The biggest trend I saw at the show was technology. Many manufactures seemed to be working hard to incorporate technology into their boats in any way possible. I saw one ski boat that had a small camera in the wakeboard/ski rope tower at the top. The camera relayed a feed straight to the center console between the tachometer and the speedometer. This allows the driver to see what is going on behind the boat. I can only assume this video can also be recorded and taken off the boat for use on a computer. Another use of technology was having the same screen in the same spot on other boats but without the camera. The screen would be used for GPS navigation or radio functions. As a tech guy I love the idea that these manufactures are trying new ways to incorporate technology into the boating experience. The camera idea, just pure genius. What an easy way to video tape yourself or a buddy water skiing or wake boarding.
The last thing I wanted to note was the marketing of the show. This year the Minneapolis Boat Show struck a personal cord with me. They embraced social media. I saw someone retweet them and instantly started following the account. Upon digging further I saw they had a Facebook fan page. When I walked into the show the first thing I was greeted with was a sign proclaiming that the Minneapolis Boat Show was on Twitter and has a Facebook fan page. This to me is great. Showing that they are trying to embrace new ways to not only market but to engage with the consumer.
The show overall had many people in attendance. I saw everyone from young couples to families. At about the price of a movie ticket, the boat show was a great way for people to get out and do something different.