The NMMA and Boating Writers International (BWI) announced the winners of the 2024 Minneapolis Innovation Awards, recognizing groundbreaking new consumer marine products, during the Sneak Preview event on January 17 at the Discover Boating® Minneapolis Boat Show, in partnership with Progressive® Insurance.
The Minneapolis Innovation Awards honor manufacturers and suppliers who bring new, innovative products in the boating industry to market in five categories: aluminum and non-fiberglass fishing boats, fiberglass fishing boats, pontoon boats, and furnishings. This year’s program, which received the largest amount of entries since its inception in 2018, honored five Innovation Award winners across three categories – one in the fiberglass fishing boat category, two in the pontoon category, and two in the furnishings category.
“We’re honored to present the 2024 Minneapolis Innovation Awards to this year’s recipients, companies that are propelling our industry forward,” noted Show Manager Darren Envall. “We’re excited to showcase these innovations and the dozens of other new marine products at the 2024 Discover Boating Minneapolis Boat Show, providing attendees a premier boating marketplace to see and shop the best in boating, and get ready for life on the water.”
In the fiberglass fishing boat category, Skeeter Boats received the Innovation Award for the WXR 2060F.
“While offering a new level of deck space, Skeeter went a step further for its new WXR 2060F by redesigning in the hull, eliminating flex for more stability in the new console pods for a better boating experience.” says judge Adam Quandt.
In the pontoon boat category, dual winners Harris Boats was honored with the Innovation Award for the Harris Crowne 250, and Barletta Boats received the Innovation Award for the Barletta Lusso L25UCAT.
“From its new Zero-G Lounger to a newly designed chassis, no details went unchecked in the next iteration of the Crowne from Harris. Bow to stern, the Crowne takes boating in luxury and comfort to the next level,” said judge Adam Quandt about the Harris Crowne 250.
“We’re used to seeing twin engine pontoon models, but Barletta’s custom engine pod design is unlike anything else out there,” said Judge Brady Kay about the Barletta Lusso L25UCAT. “Mounting the two engines together increases the functionality for a smooth and powerful ride.”
In the furnishings category, dual winners Lillipad Marine received the Innovation Award for the Lillipad Marine Easy Step Ladder, and Premier Pontoons received the Innovation Award for the Premier Angler.
“It’s not just another ladder, designed with simple, common sense features for aftermarket use, the Lillipad Marine Easy Step Ladder incorporates hidden, innovative features,” said judge Bill Guis of the Lillipad Marine Easy Step Ladder. “It’s built for easy installation with versatility to accommodate the boater and their pets use on new or vintage boats.”
“As impressive as the Premier Angler is, there is one new feature that stands out above all others and that’s the exclusive Troll & Stow system,” said Kay of the Premier Angler. “Truly a game-changer, the revolutionary trolling motor design stows completely below deck for a clean, clutter-free deck.”
2024 Minneapolis Innovation Awards’ judges bios:
- Brady Kay (Chair) is the executive editor of Pontoon & Deck Boat magazine and has been at the helm of the publication for over 20 years. During his tenure, Brady has tested and reviewed countless pontoon and deck boats, traveled to all 50 states for feature profiles, and has taken thousands of photos. He also currently oversees Great Lakes Boating magazine, a sister publication at Harris Publishing, and is in his third year as the president of Boating Writers International.
- Bill Gius has been in the marine industry for over three decades. He has worked in brand and product management at Pabst Brewing, Mercury Marine, Kohler Company, Turning Point Propellers and iboats.com. He owns “Country Consulting,” a marine industry consulting firm recently retired from working with Great Lakes Marine Marketing, a long-standing, Midwest manufacturers rep company. Gius is also a contributing writer to Pontoon & Deck Boat magazine.
- Adam Quandt is Editor-in-chief of Boating Industry, Quandt tackles everything from testing and reviewing new products, to tracking industry trends and serving on the board for numerous industry-focused award programs. Though not necessarily born into the boating world like many others, Quandt has quickly developed a passion for the industry and strives to continue bringing boaters together as we move forward into the future.