Twelve marine products were honored for innovative achievement by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Boating Writers International (BWI) at the 70th annual Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail Miami. Eleven companies took home the prestigious boating industry 2011 Innovation Award and one the Honorable Mention during NMMA’s State of the Recreational Boating Industry Breakfast, held this morning at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The Innovation Awards, organized by NMMA and judged by BWI, recognize products that best meet the following criteria: innovative distinction from other products currently being manufactured; benefit to the marine industry and/or consumer; practicality; cost-effectiveness; and availability to the consumer within 60 days of award receipt.
“We had an outstanding group of entries this year and saw innovations that are sure to pave the way for boating industry advancement,” noted Zuzana Prochazka, Innovation Awards’ judge, technical editor of Latitudes and Attitudes, and president of BWI Board of Directors. “The judges were impressed with the depth of products submitted this year, needing to select multiple winners in two categories, and are looking forward to what the future of the industry has in store for boaters.”
In addition to Prochazka, rounding out the panel of judges for this year’s Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail Innovation Awards were committee chair Alan Wendt, editor of Marine CEO; Diane Byrne, editor, Megayacht News, contributor to Superyacht Business, Super Yacht World, and Yachting, blogger for BoaterMouth.com; Roger McAfee, contributor to Pacific Yachting, Sea, Southern Boating, Lakeland Boating and ShowBoats International magazines; Robert Buller, equipment editor for Pacific Yachting; Lenny Rudow, content editor for EarthSports.com, electronics editor for Boat U.S. and Marlin, blogger for BoaterMouth.com, freelancer; and Jack Horner, naval architect, certified marine surveyor, and contributor to BoatUS, SpinSheet, Offshore, Sailing, and Chesapeake Bay magazines.
Eleven Innovation Awards and one Honorable Mention were presented today in the following nine categories:
Cruisers (25′ to 60′ including fishing craft)
Company: Chaparral 327
Product: SSX Bow Rider
The 327 holds a patented cockpit-cabin design that allows the sizeable cabin to span the beam of the boat. Allen Wendt commented, “It shakes up the bow rider category by providing a truly livable space below. How many Innovation Award judges can fit into the 327 cabin? It turns out, all of them.”
PWC, Jet boats, Pontoon Boats
Product: Sea-Doo GTI SE 130 Watercraft
The GTI SE 130 is a comprehensive package of features for the value-minded rider. Robert Buller noted, “With its new ergonomically designed deck, fuel efficient ECO mode, Intelligent Throttle Control and Breaking System, this is a smart package with a price point under $9,000.”
Product: Beneteau Sense Series
“With two models in its line, the Sense Series opens the doors to sailing for those who might otherwise be nervous by close-quarters maneuvering with its Dock and Go System,” said Diane Byrne. “Combine that with an enormous cockpit for entertaining, a living space separated from the noise of necessary machinery, and a deck that’s easy to navigate, and you have an impressive boat that takes the intimidation factor out of big boat sailing.”
Docking and Fendering Equipment
Product: SidePower SEP Speed Control Thurster Series
The Side-Power SEP Series is the first DC thruster range that provides exact proportional control and eliminates the danger of overpowered or underpowered docking. Imtra brings control down to the 35-70’ range of boats and even provides a Hold function that runs the thrusters continuously to hold the boat against a dock for short-term maneuvers like picking up and dropping off passengers.
Consumer Electronics and Software – dual winners and Honorable Mention
Product: BSM-2 Broadband Sounder
This sounder is the only recreational sonar to incorporate commercial-grade frequency sweeping pulse compression (CHIRP) technology and delivers up to five times greater target resolution. Lenny Rudow commented on the broadband capabilities, “It’s like seeing and hearing like a dog.”
Product: Zeus Sailing Navigation System
This comprehensive package, designed specifically for sailors, combines broadband radar and sounder, AIS tracking, sonar imaging, and more in one multi-function display. Plus, it can also overlay GRIB weather files and laylines to improve decision making. Jack Horner said, “This navigation system will help cruisers and racers make much better routing decisions.”
Honorable Mention: Company: Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)/Product: Take Me Fishing Boat Ramp Mobile App
Consumer Installed Non-Electronic Hardware
Product: Seldén Reversible Winch
Seldén’s manual, two-speed winches are a combination of a unique handle and specially designed jaws that allow the drum to be rotated in two directions. You can sheet in or out as precisely as needed – and with only one hand. Rober McAfee was happily noted, “It was so easy, even a power boater could do it.”
Water Sports and Equipment
Product: Mastercraft Zero Flex Tower 5P
The Mastercraft ZFT tower raises or lowers to three different positions and can tow at all three. Jack Horner said, “This is a smartly designed, well built, tower of power that looks like mechanical muscle.”
Product: DF 40A/50A
The DF 40/50 3-cylinder outboards provide 15 percent more displacement and are 5 percent lighter than their 40 and 50 HP predecessors. They bring top end features to a smaller, neater, powerplant.
Consumer Safety Equipment – dual winners with completely different approaches
Product: Navionics Mobile iPhone Marine & Lakes Mobile App with user overlay
On the high-tech side, Navionics developed an app that allows for users to add their knowledge to the Navionics database and help identify the latest conditions that may be transferred wirelessly to their boat’s navigation system. Diane Byrne added, “This is a great combination of current local knowledge and the power of social media to create a greater good.”
Company: Lake Lite
Product: Lake Lite Solar Powered Illuminating Buoys
Now boaters can not only see a buoy at night, but can even read it! With these LED-lighted, solar-powered buoys, nighttime navigating is a breeze. Lenny Rudow was happy to add, “Hey, I’d hit that less.”
The 2011 Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail runs February 17-21. For more information, visit www.MiamiBoatShow.com.