August 2007

Boating Products Honored For Innovation At MAATS

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Six marine aftermarket products were honored for innovative achievement by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Boating Writers International (BWI) at the 7th annual Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show (MAATS) in Las Vegas.

The Environmental Award, honoring the most environmentally friendly product entered in the awards program, was also presented. The seven winning companies received their awards during the MAATS Awards Reception, held July 19 at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel.

The Innovation Awards, organized by NMMA and judged by BWI, recognize those products that best meet the following criteria: innovative distinction from other products currently being manufactured, benefit to the marine industry and/or consumer, practicality, cost-effectiveness, and availability to the consumer within 60 days of the show’s conclusion.

A total of 50 new products were entered in eight categories for this year's MAATS awards program.

“When the judges consider entries, we sometimes see products that feature incremental additions or improvements,” says Jan Mundy, Innovation Awards chair and editor of DIY Boat Owner magazine. “According to the definition of ‘innovation’ as it relates to these awards, a new product must be substantially different, not just an incremental change to an existing product. The key challenge for judges this year was to select products that met this criterion.”

Additional BWI members nominated to the MAATS judging panel in 2007 included Jim Barron, technical editor, Trailer Boats; Mark Corke, senior editor, BoatWorks and SAIL magazines; Scott Croft, assistant editor, BoatU.S. Magazine; Alan Jones, executive editor, Boating World; Zuzana Prochazka, staff writer, Latitudes & Attitudes; and Alan Wendt, editor, Marine CEO.

In the Aftermarket Electronics category, the judges selected the McMurdo Smartfind Plus 406 GPS EPIRB from Revere Survival Products. Small and lightweight with a carry-safe mounting bracket to eliminate false activation, it is the only all-digital GPIRB available today, and this technology allows the use of a non-hazardous battery. “This device’s low cost encourages use by more boaters, which ultimately enhances rescue operations,” says Wendt.

In the Boat Care/Coating/Chemicals/Maintenance Tools category, the Innovation Award was presented to Engine Check Up. A fast, easy and economical method of diagnosing problems within any four-cycle gasoline or diesel engine, the user simply places a few drops of oil on a test pad to reveal the condition of the oil and amount of contaminants. “A blood test for your engine, this product is a great first step to assessing an engine's health at low cost,” explains Jones.

The judges also presented an Honorable Mention in this category to Performance Metals for its marine water-heater corrosion-alert monitor. A “smart” electrode activates a light and alarm to alert the boat owner when it’s time to change the anode. “A great reminder for a forgotten piece of equipment, it can potentially extend the life of a water heater,” says Corke.  

The Floatstep Dock Ladder from Floatstep is this year’s winner in the Deck Equipment category. Designed by two former dock builders, this ladder rises and falls with water levels, allowing water access at all times, regardless of tidal or water-level conditions. When not in use, a bottom-mounted float holds the ladder above water, which prevents marine growth and electrolysis. The latter also easily removes for storage or storm protection.

Mustang Survival continues leading the personal-flotation device market with another new product, the Survival Rescue Stick, which took home the MAATS Innovation Award in the Safety Products category. Perfect for sport boaters who don’t have space onboard for a traditional life ring, this device incorporates a handle with a horseshoe buoy that inflates in the water on contact.

“For smaller fishing and family boats, this throwable, emergency flotation device can make a difference,” says Prochazka.

In the Trailer Parts & Accessories category, the judges selected two products they felt deserved an Innovation Award. First up is the F2 trailer jack from Cequent Performance. This “jack of all trades” delivers improvements in both form and function, including nine patented advancements. An adjustable mounting system makes it possible to align the trailer tongue with the tow vehicle and twin, independent wheels facilitate direction change. “This full-featured jack addresses the various shortcomings of other, more conventional trailer jacks,” explains Barron. 

The second award in this category was presented to Rope-A-Boat, an automatic boat loader that simplifies launching and loading. The system consists of a multi-winch compartment, custom bow latch, roller guides, and lines rigged to embrace a boat on its trailer until released either manually or by remote control. “It overcomes all of the common launch-ramp theatrics caused by unpredictable currents, tides, winds and operator error,” says Mundy. 

Finally, the winner of this year's MAATS Environmental Award was Blue Water Marine Paint for its Enviro-Pads. A synthetic fiber pad placed under a boat before pressure washing filters wash water and traps contaminants that results in zero impact on water quality. They offer marine businesses an economical alternative to installing a costly catchment system. “Though not the ultimate solution, this product does solve a growing problem for small marinas and yards, this product encourages responsible environmental stewardship,” suggests Croft.

For more information on MAATS or the Innovation Awards program, visit, or contact NMMA trade events manager Kathleen Clickett at (312) 946-6252;