By: Ismael Rodriguez

Located in Virginia Key at the Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin, just a few minutes from downtown Miami, this year’s Yachts Miami Beach weekend welcomed an international audience of brokers and buyers, among Americans, to spend a substantial amount of money in what’s become the Super Bowl of yachting.

The show kicked off the yacht-buying season, which usually sells 75 percent of its stock between Jan. 15 and May 15, and appealed mainly to a group of foreign buyers, who did not hesitate to pullout the pocketbook and sign off on seven and eight-figure checks.

“A number of South Americans, Russians and folks from the Middle East come here and they tend to buy quickly and on the spot,” Efrem Zimbalist III, president of Show Management, which puts on Yachts Miami Beach, told the press. “North American buyers tend to take a bit more time from the time they are interested to the time they buy. It can take up to a year.”

This year, with over 1,300 boats on land and in the water, the show focused on enhancing the experience by incorporating the latest technologies and additional transportation, including water taxis and shuttles to-and-from the parking lot.

“The larger yachts have more toys in them. A lot of them have verandas that come out electronically, so that when you are cruising or moored you have multiple access points to the outside,” Zimbalist III told the press. “We’re seeing a lot more audio-video technology and a lot more art. We see a lot of owners designing waterfalls and sculptures from the day the boats are designed.”

The show adds substantial weight to the boat industry as a whole. In Florida, the industry employs 200,000 people and is worth $17 billion, according to what boat industry veterans told The Real Deal.