Article and Photos by Judy Hills, Roving ACBS reporter

We all acknowledge that our hobby, like many that have been around for a long time, needs new blood if it is to continue.  While some may think that we just have to get the guys to buy the appropriate boat, the truth is that we need to do more than just appeal to the guys—we need to appeal to that significant other as well.  According to the National Women Boaters Association, 27 million women currently boat and fish (January 2014 article) and a 2015 Forbes article on Women Consumers has a number of interesting points that are germane to this topic.  Pay attention now to how these points might apply to our hobby.


First, women drive 70% to 80% of all consumer purchases. Second, gender is often a blind spot for businesses.  And third, women are females first and consumers second. What might this mean for ACBS?  While we need to be “selling” the guy on antique and classic boats, we also need to be “selling” the significant other as well because that person may drive the purchase decision or at least greatly influence it.  Certainly, women will want a boat that looks great and runs well, but to get their attention you need to appeal to their senses—you need to catch their eye.  Think of the significant other as a photographer.  The photographer is looking for a unique angle, interesting light, or a picture that tells a story.  Photographers of ACBS boats and boating shows have tons of good pictures, but the really great photos have that extra something.  And that is what we need to provide to attract females (who will make or influence a boat purchase decision)—that something extra.


So, what might that be?  Females who attend boat shows are looking for the accessories that show off the great interior, the period costume that gives the boat extra pizzazz, and even period-correct music that wafts gently onto the dock pulling her into the experience.  Here are some photos of things seen at boat shows that may help “hook” that significant other.

Accessories—land displays:

Accessories—in-water displays:


This display even had period-correct music playing—“In the Mood” which was the name of the boat.

People in period clothing as accessories:


One of the most coordinated, tasteful displays that this writer has seen was the Rhubarb at the Racine show.  The owners had color-coordinated fender covers with the boat name, rhubarb wine, a cooler with a Rhubarb logo, rhubarb plants in a basket, and they even had a rhubarb recipe card to give out.

So if your club’s award categories are getting stale, consider adding an element that includes how well they display the boat including the types of features discussed in this article.  An additional benefit of such displays might be attracting more couples to the hobby.

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