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Annapolis Sailboat Show – Still Growing, Still Very Much a Family Affair

In September of 2013 I published a blog titled, Annapolis Sailboat Show, A Growing Family AffairIt started like this:

“As my children have gotten older, they have come to realize that October is a fun and exciting time of the year. Not because of Halloween which is what all kids look forward to in October but because of the Annapolis Sailboat Show. For those of us who make their living in the boating business, the Annapolis Sailboat Show is a big deal. Not only is it the largest all-sail show in North America but it’s also the only show where all the new models from the various manufacturers are introduced for the first time.”

Young and old, everyone on the Jeanneau team turns out in force to lend a hand building the display. Team Building at its best!!
The Jeanneau America team in October 2012 following the close of the show along with my 3 kids: Graham (6), Mollie (9), and Will (10)

Fast forward to October 2016 and for the most part, not a lot has changed over the past 4 years. Well, that’s not entirely true. The Jeanneau team is bigger now since Jeanneau has gown significantly since 2012. I am no longer President having passed that honor onto my friend Nick Harvey a couple of years ago. But for the most part, the important elements of what makes the Annapolis show truly great remain the same.

Annapolis is still the largest all-sail show in North America, attracting sailors from all 50 states and every province in Canada. It’s still the  only show where you’re guaranteed to find all the manufactures with all their new models for the coming year on display in one place. And for me, it’s still very much a growing family affair. And not just my immediate family, but the larger family of Jeanneau owners as well.

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Yours truly with a now 13 year old Mollie Fenn working the reception desk at this year’s Jeanneau Yachts display

This year the show kicked off under brilliant blue skies on October 6th. We displayed an impressive lineup of 10 boats from 34-58 feet. More than 50,000 people attended the show and more than 200 Jeanneau owners attended the annual Jeanneau party making this year’s Annapolis Sailboat Show one of our best ever.

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The annual Jeanneau Owner’s Party now exceeds more than 200 and continues to be one of the highlights of the Annapolis show

In 2012 I wrapped up the Annapolis show blog this way:

“Not everyone has the luxury of enjoying what they do to make a living but thankfully I do and as an added bonus, I get to bring my family and friends along for the ride.”

Since these words still ring true for me and still seem a fitting conclusion to my brief tale here. I am going to be rather unimaginative and end the same way. With the exception of adding, I look forward to seeing you at next year’s Annapolis show. Let the fun continue!

Farewell Valerie Toomey and Bon Voyage

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Valerie Toomey at the helm of the Jeanneau 509 crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas for a 2013 photo shoot

It is said that the true character of a company can be found in the people who work for it. Valerie Toomey joined Jeanneau America in 2010 bringing with her an over abundance of positive energy and a unique style all her own. Now, 5 years later, she leaves us… not for a bigger or better job or to seek out new opportunities, but to do something most of us who love spending time on the water only dream of, going cruising.

Beginning in July, Valerie along with her husband, syndicated cartoonist Jim Toomey, and their two children, Madeline age 12 and William age 10, will head to Les Sables-d’Olonne, France where they will move aboard their brand new Lagoon catamaran. From there, they’ll spend the next year (maybe more if Valerie gets her way. And she usually does!) cruising through the Mediterranean and eventually south across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. It will be a grand adventure I’m sure.

“When I started working for Jeanneau, I really wasn’t a sailor but over the past 5 years, after organizing numerous boat shows, photo shoots, owner’s parties and rendezvous’, I have learned a thing or two and discovered that I love sailing and being aboard a boat” Valerie says.

Pirate Night during the 2014 BVI Owner's Rendezvous (L-R: Rosie Rigaux, Catherine Guiader and Valerie)
Pirate Night during the 2012 BVI Owner’s Rendezvous (L-R: Rosie Rigaux, Catherine Guiader and Valerie Toomey)

It’s never easy to lose a good employee or say goodbye to a good friend. But the fact that Valerie is headed for an adventure that’s right out of one of our brochures, somehow makes it all a little bit easier to accept. So Bon Voyage Valerie Toomey and thanks for shining your light on Jeanneau. It’s been a great 5 years!

Valerie and her girls at the close of the 2013 Annapolis Sail Boat Show
Valerie and her girls at the close of the 2013 Annapolis Sailboat Show

On we go…

Why I’ve Decided to Celebrate New Year’s Eve on August 31st

Yesterday was one of those perfect summer days; zero humidity, crystal blue skies, plenty of sunshine, a nice breeze and a lovely 75 degrees. The Chesapeake Bay just outside of Annapolis harbor was a sea of white sails while the Severn River just off my community beach played host to a myriad of watercraft from speedboats to jet skies to kayaks to rowboats to small day-sailors. A small fleet of Sunfish sailboats with their distinctive brightly colored sails could be seen in the distance battling around the race course. The tide in the late afternoon was well above the average high tide making for great swimming and diving off our community pier. Yep, it was one of those rare, perfect summer afternoons that make you want summer to last forever.

Graham Fenn and friends make the best of the final days of summer by taking a dip in the Severn River
Graham Fenn (center) and friends make the best of the final days of summer by taking a dip in the Severn River

As I sat on the beach, cold beer in one hand, summer novel in the other, it suddenly hit me that the day felt a lot more like the end of the year than December 31st ever did. There would of course be no wild, late-night New Year’s Eve parties, not on this new, modified New Year’s Eve of mine. Nor would there likely be many champagne corks popping later tonight. There would be no ball drop in Time Square, no funny hats, no noise makers and no hugs and kisses at midnight. Instead, given that tomorrow was the first day of school, the evening was destined to be a quiet one. Friends and neighbors would head home early to prepare for an early start to the day tomorrow. Dinner would be served earlier than normal, bedtime would hopefully follow shortly thereafter. Tomorrow we would rise early and rush around like a litter of blind cats in an effort to organize ourselves for the day ahead. There would undoubtedly be lots of yelling over such things as lost socks, having no “good” cereal to eat and there being no hot water left but we would eventually pull it all together and get ourselves out the door. By 7:30 we would all be gone and Smokey, our faithful hound would be left alone to look after the house until our return. And while there would still be some warm days ahead I know, it won’t change the fact that the summer of 2014 was toast and a new year was about to begin.

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Will, Graham and Mollie Fenn reluctantly pose for a photo moments before hopping on the bus for the fist day of school. Notice “Shoeless Joe” who’s clearly not quite ready for show time. Nothing new here!

The more I thought about this idea of celebrating New Year’s Eve in August, the more I liked it. From both a practical and psychological standpoint, it makes a heck of a lot more sense to my wondering mind to start the new year on September 1st as opposed to January 1st. By September 1st summer is over, America is headed back to work and a new school year has begun. Life is suddenly very different today than yesterday; something good is over and something exciting and new is about to begin. And isn’t that what celebrating New Year’s is all about? Happy New Year everyone and here’s to singing Auld Lang Syne in August!

On we go…

 

 

 

Annapolis Sailboat Show, A Growing Family Affair

A great areal shot of last year's Jeanneau display featuring 9 boats. This year we're shooting for 12 boats!
A great aerial shot of last year’s Jeanneau display featuring 9 boats. This year we’re shooting for 12 boats including the new Sun Odyssey 349 and Sun Fast 3600.

As my children have gotten older, they have come to realize that October is a fun and exciting time of the year. Not because of Halloween which is what all kids look forward to in October but because of the Annapolis Sailboat Show. For those of us who make their living in the boating business, the Annapolis Sailboat Show is a big deal. Not only is it the largest all-sail show in North America but it’s also the only show where all the new models from the various manufacturers are introduced for the first time. Because of this, the show is big, attracting upwards of 50,000 sailboat enthusiasts from all over the United States, Canada and many European and South American countries as well; it is a true international all-sail show and it’s great!

Jeanneau's Catherine Guiader, Valerie Toomey and Will Fenn are all smiles during the 2013 Annapolis Sailboat Show.
Jeanneau’s Catherine Guiader, Valerie Toomey and Will Fenn are all smiles during the 2013 Annapolis Sailboat Show.

For those of us here at Jeanneau, Annapolis is a lot more than a show, it is a real production. This year we will show 12 boats from our new 34 footer to the Jeanneau 57. All 12 of them are brand spanking new which means they will first need to be rigged, launched and prepared for the show. Then comes the fun, the Jeanneau staff will enlist family and friends to help load the boats and move them across the harbor and into position. Flags will be hoisted, carpet laid, tents raised and the boats will be washed, waxed and polished to perfection. It is a lot of work but also good work as it represents a great team effort by all involved.

Young and old, everyone on the Jeanneau team turns out in force to lend a hand building the display. Team Building at its best!!
Young and old, everyone on the Jeanneau team turns out in force to lend a hand building the display. Team Building at its best!!

Over the years as my three kids have gotten older, they have become more involved in preparing and breaking down the show. They help move boats, coil lines, polish stainless and lug gear. For the Fenn family, the Annapolis show has become a real family affair. 

Will and Catherine hard at work on the building of the display
Will and Catherine hard at work on the building of the display
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The girls at Jeanneau run the show!

This year the fun begins on October 6th when we move our boats into the show . We will work on building the display for the next two days. On Wednesday, Jeanneau dealers from throughout North America will arrive in town to help with the finishing touches. And on Thursday, darned in our best duds, we will stand on the transoms of our freshly polished vessels, welcome the public to our display and be happy to be in Annapolis for such an exciting event. Not everyone has the luxury of enjoying what they do to make a living but thankfully I do and as an added bonus, I get to bring my family and friends along for the ride.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at this year’s Annapolis Show!

On We Go….