Each year in my welcoming remarks at the International WorkBoat Show I hint that the show will be the biggest and best ever. For the most part, that has been accurate. But there were several reasons why the 35th edition of the WorkBoat Show topped all its predecessors.

First off, since last year’s show was held in October, exhibitors had been waiting for over a year to show off their latest products and services. Thus, there was bound to be lots of new and interesting stuff in the aisles.

The date of last year’s show also meant that we had 14 months instead of 12 of boatbuilding coverage to consider when choosing 2014’s 10 Significant Boats (see page 34). 

That brings me to another reason why this show could be the best ever. For the first time, we named a Boat of the Year, selected from our 10 Significant Boats, and held an awards breakfast for the owners, builders and designers of the boats before the show opened on Thursday.

The offshore refueling vessel Great Expectations was our inaugural Boat of the Year. The 314'×66'×30' DP-2 vessel, built for a joint venture of John W. Stone Oil Distributor and Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) at ECO’s La Ship, can carry up to 1.5 million gals. of fuel, potable water and lubricants. Stone and Chouest collaborated on the customized design based on ECO’s VE (very efficient) PSV hull design.

The other nine Significant Boats were made up of pilot boats, tugs, a passenger vessel, OSVs, a cargo/transport vessel, and the Z-drive towboat Capt. Frank Banta Jr. We feature the Banta, which received serious consideration for the top award, in this issue beginning on page 44.

Another reason why I felt the show was the best in my 20-plus years of attendance was that it featured three industry-targeted keynote addresses for the first time. Capt. Richard Phillips kicked things off on the opening morning of the show followed by Vigor Shipyards chief Frank Foti and Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen the next day.

I truly believe that the 35th edition of the show was our best ever. For those that made it to the show, I hope you felt the same way.