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It’s Christmas Time in the City

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MarineMax and Sea Ray put together an elegant event in Manhattan to show appreciation for their customers and to highlight one new launch in particular.

I live right across the Hudson River from Manhattan in Hoboken, New Jersey. So when I saw MarineMax marketing maven Josie Tucci at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, she invited me to a party her company was throwing in conjunction with Sea Ray at Chelsea Piers. It was pretty much a no-brainer that I was going to go. It’s a five-minute ferry ride after all.

MarineMax was very much going for that glitzy New York feel with this event, and my experience that Friday night was right on point with their mission. When I got to Chelsea Piers—which is an enormous, warehouse-like marina, sports, and entertainment complex on Manhattan’s west side—I walked in the wrong door and straight into a casting session for Law and Order: SVU. Four middle-aged Irish-looking guys with meaty faces sat around on some folding chairs talking about how much the Giants stink while they waited to be called in to their audition. I decided to seize the moment, and milled around for about ten minutes trying to catch the casting director’s eye. No such luck. So I walked out the door and literally bumped into Regis Philbin walking down the sidewalk—a pretty standard night in New York City so far, really. (That’s sarcasm.)

When I finally got to the cocktail party, I noted that MarineMax pretty much nailed the whole ‘glitz’ thing. The sporty SLX line of Sea Rays were on display on the hard, while Aston Martins were parked nearby. There were scotch tastings and free Montecristos. The crowd was speckled with the kinds of girls that look like they might have been hired out from a modeling agency.

But the highlight of the party, for me, was the new Sea Ray 350 SLX—a cool little boat with a lot to offer. She seats 18 people underway and is just begging for a good time with bow and cockpit seating areas replete with dining tables. She’s got an electric grill and sink in the cockpit, a cabin and a head—a feature one woman who was onboard at the same time as me made sure to point out to her husband with zeal, since their current boat apparently has no such amenity—to round out the onboard amenities. The boat also had a great place to sit at anchor: a foldout aft-facing settee in the transom facing the swim platform. Since the Sea Ray 350 SLX can be powered with optional Mercruiser engines up to a pair of 380-horsepower stern drives, there’s plenty of power to play around with. And the optional Axius joystick piloting system means an accelerated learning experience at the helm.

Based on the location it would seem the party was meant to attract Wall Street types: A well-timed strategy considering it’s bonus season, and those once-a-year, mondo-sized checks have a tendency to burn a hole right through your Armani pockets. The 350 SLX seems like the perfect fit for that group. In my experience—which is relatively broad considering I worked at an investment bank for years and went to a college that churns out Wall Streeters like a machine—not many people in high finance are hardcore boaters. But they like to have fun, and many of them have houses “out east” in the Hamptons or down the Jersey Shore. And this boat is a great fit for that guy—the perfect vessel on which to blow off a little steam after an 80-hour work week. And that’s something that didn’t seem to be lost on the crowd that night. Matt Barbara, regional president for MarineMax Northeast, told me after the party that his team sold two 350s right at the event. “I think the big thing with this boat is that it’s truly a great, big dayboat,” he said. “It’s pure fun. That’s one thing people really seem to like about it. We are truly selling onboard space. There’s so much room ondeck and people love that. It obviously sold well tonight, and we think it’s going to continue to be a big seller.”

From what I saw in New York, I’ve got no reason to disagree.