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Are Boat Shows Good Places to get Deals on New Sails?

Ward H

.
Nov 7, 2011
3,126
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
I've been to the past 2 Annapolis Boat Shows looking for specific items to buy, trying to get boat show deals. It mostly seemed that "Boat Show Deals" could easily be matched by carefully looking on line.
The shows mostly were a good place to put your hands on gear, talk to venders and compare stuff.

Yesterday I went to the show specifically looking for new sails and came away a bit more confused than I was when I went in.
I spoke with North, Neil Pryde and Ullman. With all three I really don't know what kind of "Boat Show Deal" I came away with versus getting a quote from them using their website.
Granted, the show was packed, it was hot and people were standing in line to talk to the sail venders. I was expecting them to ask questions about my type of sailing, go over details like cloth choices and options. None of the three indicated what their show deal was saving me.

And I was surprised that all three indicated they have made so many sails for the C30 they just needed a couple of measurements verified by me. They didn't need to come to the boat and measure.

I'm thinking about going back the show on Monday. It should be less crowded and maybe they will spend more time on the details.
But I'm wondering if boat shows are really the right place to get good deals on new sails. Maybe my time would be better spent working with the suppliers through their on line quote system, then comparing prices.
If I was going to purchase through an on-line only loft I'd use Precision Sails but I was hoping to buy from a more local loft.

Any thoughts?

Note - I've purchased sails previously from two on-line lofts. One I was very unhappy with. (a Florida sail supplier highly recommended on this site) The other was @DrJudyB 's Hyde Sails Direct. Judy was great to work with and the sails were reasonably priced. I was extremely happy with her service and the sails. I wished she was still in business but everyone deserves to retire.
 
Jul 1, 2010
869
Seaward 25, Catalina 350 Erie, Pa
In 2015, like you, I shopped the sail deals at the Annapolis show. I found that our "local" (not really local to us but a local loft in Vermont that I had done business with in the past) was competitive with the quotes I got at the show. He wasn't cheaper with the cheapest quote or more than the highest. He got our business, and I got a set of custom cruising sails made for our boat in-house at his shop. No regrets. He's also getting the business of making sails for our current boat this winter. I didn't bother getting any other quotes this time. FWIW, I did the measuring for him both times.
 
May 24, 2004
6,790
CC 30 South Florida
It is a good place to find deals on nicely equipped display new boats. The Manufacturers have gotten their advertising value, would be happy to avoid transportation costs after the show and give a local Dealer the sale.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,092
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I’m not sure you get a heavily discounted deal on sails at the show.

You may be able to find things that have been brought to the show and get a price break so the product does not cost the seller return shipping after the show. These are know as last day deals.

If you are remote from lofts, the show helps to congregate several manufacturers in one site. If you can spend the time to learn more about the sails you are considering, that is helpful. You need to do your homework first. You need to prepare sound questions. You may learn that one manufacturer is more informed than another. This may influence your decision.

Note try to understand the manufacturers time table. Your best prices may come from contacting a loft that has open time in their schedule to build your sails. They will be more amenable to a price consideration if you are willing to be the person to fill their production schedule.

All that is in normal times. With the conditions of the Global Logistics issues, the ability to get sails made and shipped in a reasonable time frame is becoming a nightmare for all. I am afraid this will be with us for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. :yikes:

I pray I am wrong.
 
Apr 8, 2011
467
Hunter 36 Deale, MD
I've been to the past 2 Annapolis Boat Shows looking for specific items to buy, trying to get boat show deals. It mostly seemed that "Boat Show Deals" could easily be matched by carefully looking on line.
The shows mostly were a good place to put your hands on gear, talk to venders and compare stuff.

Yesterday I went to the show specifically looking for new sails and came away a bit more confused than I was when I went in.
I spoke with North, Neil Pryde and Ullman. With all three I really don't know what kind of "Boat Show Deal" I came away with versus getting a quote from them using their website.
Granted, the show was packed, it was hot and people were standing in line to talk to the sail venders. I was expecting them to ask questions about my type of sailing, go over details like cloth choices and options. None of the three indicated what their show deal was saving me.

And I was surprised that all three indicated they have made so many sails for the C30 they just needed a couple of measurements verified by me. They didn't need to come to the boat and measure.

I'm thinking about going back the show on Monday. It should be less crowded and maybe they will spend more time on the details.
But I'm wondering if boat shows are really the right place to get good deals on new sails. Maybe my time would be better spent working with the suppliers through their on line quote system, then comparing prices.
If I was going to purchase through an on-line only loft I'd use Precision Sails but I was hoping to buy from a more local loft.

Any thoughts?

Note - I've purchased sails previously from two on-line lofts. One I was very unhappy with. (a Florida sail supplier highly recommended on this site) The other was @DrJudyB 's Hyde Sails Direct. Judy was great to work with and the sails were reasonably priced. I was extremely happy with her service and the sails. I wished she was still in business but everyone deserves to retire.
Last year I went through this, but since the boat show was cancelled I did it all online. They all gave me a "boat show discount", and showed that in the quote. In the end I went with Quantum, who despite my boat being production the local guy came down and measured it. Lo and behold, despite the boat having original sails from 2009 there was one measurement he was surprised at that made a difference in how he would have the sails made (the labor is done overseas). I'm really happy with that - turns out it was important (who knows, over the years, especially on boats with successive owners what mods were made or things got out of spec??). I was able to get a very nice set of radial cut sails which furl well and shape well - I don't have battens in my main. The boat sails very differently this year. And they're going to sew the spreader patches on at the end of this season. Very happy with my Quantum sails, and the whole process. Didn't hurt they were very competitive on price too. Plus they have an office at Herrington Harbor, across from my marina, for cleaning and repairs.
 
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Likes: jssailem
Feb 21, 2013
3,776
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
It would interesting to see if you can get a good price on custom sails at a boat show vs. local loft. I once purchased dinghy davits on display at a boat show at a nice discount.
 
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Likes: jssailem
Oct 22, 2014
16,092
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I once purchased dinghy davits on display at a boat show at a nice discount.
I met the SM for Lewmar the first day at Annapolis in 2018. He wanted to get off to a good start in sales. Gave me a killer deal on a Ocean 70 hatch for my boat. Included shipping from the Florida warehouse. You just do not know what is motivating or why they positively respond to a request for a discount. Perhaps it is the smile on your face or the good looking woman standing near you. Who knows? It is always worth the ask.
 
Dec 1, 2020
92
CAL 27 Illahee / Brownsville WA
I just when through the whole process of determining what type of furling genoa I wanted for a soon to be installed Harken furler. To say the least it was a learning curve that was steep. In the end I went with Precision Sails (Vancouver BC sales office and China construction) New Sails Custom Designed for Your Sailboat - Precision Sails mostly due to the realization that for my sail needs all the makers are basically the same so why not save money if possible and they were about $500 under the name-brand outfits. Also, check out their used sails, this seems like a possibility based on rig dimensions... Used Sails: Lightly Used And Never Sailed | Precision Sails ( you need to enter your boat and click some of the input boxes, but the screen eventually populates with sails)

Hope you have success.