15 companies honored for innovation in Miami

Published online: Feb 17, 2012 News Boating Industry
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MIAMI - Fifteen marine products were honored today for innovative achievement by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Boating Writers International at the 71st annual Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail. Thirteen companies took home a 2012 Innovation Award and two honorable mentions were made 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.

"The number of entries this year exceeded our expectations, and all of the products we reviewed paint a bright future for boating industry evolution," said Zuzana Prochazka, Innovation Awards' judge chair, editor of TalkoftheDock.com, technical editor of Latitudes & Attitudes, and president of BWI Board of Directors. "The winners recognized at the boat show today are a testament to the ongoing commitment to boating ingenuity necessary to the future of our industry, and we're excited to see how these products adapt in the marketplace."

In addition to Prochazka, rounding out the panel of judges for this year's Innovation Awards are Ed Sherman, educational programming director at the American Boat & Yacht Council; Jan Mundy, co-founder of DIY Boat Owner and writer; Lenny Rudow, boat review editor for Boats.com and electronics editor for BoatUS and Marlin magazines; Alan Jones, executive editor for Boating World magazine; Elaine Lembo, Cruising World deputy editor; and Mark Corke, author, owner of the On Board with Mark Corke blog and contributing writer to Soundings and Lakeland Boating magazines.

Below are the winners along with comments from the judges:

Applications and Mobile Software

Beneteau Toucan Dealer App by Jester Communications: This interactive selling tool includes video, brochures, spec sheets and a configuring tool that allows dealers to create a personalized boat and a quote right on the dock. "This app," said Elaine Lembo, "Represents a step up in the professionalism and expediency with which dealers can do their job and may even result in greater sales overall."

Runabout and Fishing Craft to 24':

Pro Skiff Series by Mako: The Mako's innovative AIV hull shape delivers superior stability, good rough water handling and a greater load carrying capacity. "After running this boat, I came to really appreciate what can be done on a 17' foot boat," said Alan Jones. "And it's an affordable package of boat, engine and trailer that lowers the barrier to entry for anyone thinking of getting into boating."

Cruisers (25? to 60? including fishing craft)

SLX 250 by Sea Ray: The 250 incorporates Sea Ray's Quiet Ride Technology, a comprehensive effort to lessen the total noise and vibration level by 20 - 50% depending on a person's location on the boat. Jan Mundy commented "This makes a huge difference- it'll be nice to actually hear yourself think after a long day on the water."

PWC & Jet Boats

Sea Doo RXP-X 260 by Bombardier: Sea Doo's ErgoLock seat, angled footwells, and T3 hull combine to create a PWC with incredible turning ability and maximum comfort designed to build confidence in its rider. "It made me an instant expert," said Alan Jones who shared his YouTube racing video with us. "I was the cock of the walk on this supercharged muscle machine."

Sailboats

Oceanis Series 48 by Beneteau: The electric transom on the Oceanis Series opens up the cockpit and adds three feet to the boat, but only when you want it. "This is a great way to expand the outdoor living area on a boat," said Lenny Rudow. "It almost makes me want to go somewhere on a sailboat." For any of you who know Lenny, you'll appreciate what a powerful endorsement that is.

Docking and Fendering Equipment

V-Lift by Sunstream Boat Lifts: The V-lift is twice as fast as existing air lifts, has no air hoses or power pack to contend with, and is perfectly portable because it can be towed with a boat from slip to slip. "This is a great modular unit," said Ed Sherman. "It makes perfect sense for boats up to 11,000 pounds, and you can even put an outboard right on it and drive it to where you need it."

Honorable Mention: Eel Shore Power Cord by Marinco

Consumer Electronics and Software

InReach by Delorme: This global satellite communicator affordably delivers two-way texting, delivery confirmation, and SOS messaging anywhere in the world. Lenny commented, "With global two-way texting, it might even satisfy the communication needs of my twin 12-year olds."

Honorable Mention: MS-AV700 Audio and Video Entertainment Package by Fusion Electronics

Consumer Installed Non-Electronic Hardware

SCUBA Donning Assistance System by Dive Mate: This simple and affordable add-on can help anyone don their dive gear using an insert that goes into an existing rod holder. "It runs on the KISS principle," said Jan Mundy. "It keeps things simple as it turns your fishing boat into your user-friendly dive boat."

Water Sports & Equipment

Battle Saddle by Release Marine: The Battle Saddle functions like a classic fighting chair in the cockpit of a sport fishing boat but only takes up one third of the space which is perfect as it was designed for boats 30-40 feet. "As cockpits continue to do double duty for entertaining and fishing, the space gets to be more of a premium," said Lenny Rudow. "This can be used by everyone, from kids to really big guys and that opens up the fishing action to everyone aboard."

Outboard Engines

DF300 AP by Suzuki Marine: Suzuki's Selective Rotation feature combines standard and counter-rotation operation into the same outboard by switching an electronic circuit which eliminates the need to buy a dedicated counter-rotation outboard. "This is a brilliant ground-breaking design," said Ed Sherman. "This will save dealers money in inventory, and consumers selling their used twins will now be able to sell them one at a time and make them into whatever the seller needs."

Consumer Safety Equipment

AIS Watchmate Vision by Vesper: The WatchMate is a dedicated AIS display that combines a touchscreen, WiFi and NMEA 2000 in a compact unit and adds iPad and iPhone apps for added functionality. "Eliminating the clutter enhances this products usability," said Elaine Lembo. "You can instantly see targets around you and who's headed your way on a clear color screen."

Pontoon & Deckboats

Ambassador by Avalon: The Ambassador is feature-packed and has the industry's only electric reclining rear loungers and pop-up wine rack. Alan Jones may have created a new category when describing the boat's many yacht-like features. "This isn't a tri-toon so much as it is a yacht-toon. I can't wait to test one out for over-night weekends."

Environmental Award

Propane Outboard by Lehr: The Lehr outboard is powered by propane from many sources including the small green BBQ bottles. With zero evaporative emissions and no winterization needed, Lehr makes sure some boaters never need to carry gasoline aboard. Mark Corke noted "I'd love to put this on the tender to my diesel powered sailboat and never think about gas again."

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