South Florida PWC & Sport Boat Show Report

Riva Motorsports plants the seed for potential annual industry event

Motorcycle and ATV types have Indy’s Powersports Expo, snowmobile enthusiasts flock to Syracuse’s Big East show, now Riva Motorsports is attempting to make Pompano Beach the destination show for the personal watercraft crowd.

Or at the very least, for the personal watercraft crowd who reside in the southeast for starters.

The industry’s largest dealership and aftermarket performance manufacturer, Riva recently held the first South Florida PWC & Sport Boat Show at its Pompano Beach headquarters. The event showcased product from three of the four major OEM players — Sea-Doo, Yamaha, and Kawasaki — as well as brought together numerous industry heavyweights, including Riva’s own Riva Racing, SBT, the American Watercraft Association, Oakley, Slippery, Exotic Signs, BigFoot, Triton, Continental, Sport Port, Admiral Boat Lifts, Brownies, and Progressive Insurance. Also on hand were the South Florida Riders Personal Watercraft Club, LTS Wakeboard School, Seafood World, and Shameless Charlotte’s swimwear.

In addition to the vendor area, Riva also opened up its nearby test lake to demo rides. Staff was on hand from both Yamaha and Sea-Doo to display each company’s latest product and answer consumer questions. In an industry where test rides are far too infrequent, attendees expressed great appreciation of the opportunity to get out and try vehicles on the water.

“This is something you rarely get to do,” said one showgoer who took advantage of the opportunity to demo product from both manufacturers. “You wouldn’t buy a car without insisting on a test drive, but I’ve bought way too many PWC without ever touching them until they were mine. Having the chance to get out and see how they handle, how the features work, whether the new stuff is a real improvement or just hype, it’s awesome.”

Sea-Doo perhaps made the most out of the demo opportunity, bringing the company’s traveling iControl Experience to the demo site. Participants were encouraged to use a stop sign out on the buoy course to judge for themselves the merits of the brand’s still-new braking system.

“There is no question the best way to get someone excited about a product designed to be ridden is to have them actually ride it,” noted company spokesman Tim McKercher. “For watercraft a test ride is a luxury most don’t have before buying. Being able to put a person on a watercraft and let them experience all the reasons they think they want one is the strongest selling tool.”

While traffic at the demo site was decent throughout the weekend, consumer attendance at the show site was admittedly lighter than expected. For a one-time show, that’s probably a disappointment. But if this is to be a continuing event, hats off to Riva for trying to get the ball rolling.

“We are very pleased with the success of the 1st annual South Florida PWC and Sport Boat Show,” says Riva’s Dave Bamdas. “Hundreds enjoyed the fun filled weekend of watercraft demonstrations, good food, music, prizes and the festive Caribbean atmosphere. We had a terrific turnout at the main show site along with over a hundred PWC test rides at our lake facility. Stay tuned for dates on the 2011 PWC and Sport Boat Show TBA.”

And here’s to the future.

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