A rising tide lifts all boats.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association recently announced that sales of new powerboats rose 6% to 7% to an estimated 250,000 boats in 2016 as consumer confidence rebounded. In addition, powerboat sales rose 10% to 11% to $8.4 billion, according to the association’s estimates._MG_7930

“Looking ahead, 2017 is likely to bring new dollar and unit sales gains on par with or better than 2016, and this trend will likely continue through 2018,” says Thom Dammrich, president of the association, in a recent statement. “With the U.S. boating industry having one of its strongest years in the last decade in 2016, and manufacturers saying, ‘we’re back!’, it’s likely we will reflect on this period as a golden age for our economy and our industry.”

The association says these are the top four boating trends to watch in 2017:

  • Big boats are back—One of the more standout areas of growth in 2016 was among yachts and large cruising boats. New yachts and cruisers will continue to post gains as consumer confidence and spending remains strong.
  • Affordable, versatile boats helping a new generation become boaters—Manufacturers are making smaller boats (watersports boats, pontoons, day boats) that are more affordable as they aim to attract new, younger boaters and even more sales. What’s more, boats are also becoming more versatile, providing an all-in-one experience from fishing to cruising to watersports, making them more appealing to a wider audience.
  • _MG_7938Intuitive marine technology—The boating industry has embraced new technology from docking a boat with a joystick reminiscent of video games to creating wake surf waves from a wristwatch. As consumers turn to their smartphones to manage numerous aspects of their lives, manufacturers are responding and will unveil boats at 2017 boat shows that provide a more intuitive experience. For example, the Captain Grady application for iPhone and iPad is designed to help Grady-White boat owners operate their vessels safely and effectively.
  • Shared experiences—The ‘sharing economy’ isn’t lost on the boating industry, which is welcoming the opportunity to expose a new demographic to life on the water with everything from boat rental apps to shared boat ownership.