The International Boatbuilders Exhibition and Conference (IBEX) is where parts and accessory manufacturers unveil their latest product designs. It’s also where you’ll see all the new gear that will be making its way to a winter boat show near you. The 2016 show, which was held at the Tampa Convention Center from October 4 to 6, saw more than 550 exhibitors unveil hundreds of boat accessories, including everything from electronics to engines to Bimini tops to wakeboard racks and more. The best were presented with IBEX Innovation Awards, and here are five of our favorites.

T-H Snapflex LED Stern Light

T-H Marine Supplie Snapfelx

Traditional pole-style stern navigation lights have their problems – the poles inevitably become broken or dented, and the connecting pins corrode and break. A revolutionary new LED Stern Nav light design from T-H Marine Supplies features a flexible fiberglass shaft that flexes and bends instead of breaking. It’s rigid enough to remain fully upright even when running at high speeds, yet flexible enough to avoid damage when compromised. And the quick release snap base eliminates corrosion and pin breakage issues with its novel design.

Mercury Electronic Steering Helm

Mercury Electronic Steering Helm

Mercury introduced a number of new products at the IBEX show, including the Electronic Steering Helm. Mercury’s goal was to provide boaters with the benefits of an electronic helm, while providing the familiar feel of a mechanically or hydraulically steered boat. By using Magneto-Resistive fluid (MR fluid) technology, the system provides free and easy turning at low boat speeds, then firms up nicely as vessel speed increases. The magnetic ‘smart fluid’ used in the device changes consistency from a moderately viscous fluid to a near-solid when subjected to a magnetic field, responding in milliseconds to allow for real-time control. It’s a proven technology that’s widely used in automotive applications and for making earthquake-resistant bridges – and now, in boat steering systems.

Roswell Triton Board Rack

Roswell Triton Board Rack

Roswell’s new Triton board rack accommodates almost any variety of wakeboard or surf board, holding them securely in a gravity-assisted vertical mounting position. Each board is clamped into place using a patent-pending telescopic arm system, avoiding the need for the use of rack straps. Because the boards are held vertically, overall boat width is reduced, making it easier to enter a boat lift or a boat house. Even better, the vertical position ensures wet boards will drip outside the boat instead of all over the occupants.

Garmin GMR Fantom Radar

Garmin GMR Fantom Radar

Garmin’s new GMR Fantom radar brings recently de-militarized Doppler technology to recreational boating in a compact and intuitive radar set. The 6-foot open-array unit is said to be the first 40W solid-state, pulse compression marine radar that uses the Doppler effect to instantly detect and highlight moving targets in real-time. Targets coming toward the boat are displayed in red, while those moving out of the way are displayed in green for easy navigation. What’s more, the Fantom 6 includes an Auto Bird Gain setting to help identify flocks of birds feeding at the water’s surface, which signal the location of feeding game fish.

Volvo Penta Volvo Penta Easy Drain

Volvo Penta Volvo Penta Easy Drain

Volvo Penta’s Easy Drain makes it easy to completely drain raw water from a gasoline stern drive engine at the push of a button, even if the boat is still in the water. This allows boaters to greatly extend their use in the shoulder seasons. Forecast for a few cold nights before warming up again on the weekend? No problem – just push a button to drain the block and prevent freezing damage, with no need to disconnect any hoses or remove the boat from the water. Easy Drain is standard on all new Volvo Penta Gen V 4.3L and 5.3L gasoline engines, and will be offered on the new 6.2L engine when introduced in 2017. Because all new-generation Volvo Penta gasoline engines have a closed-loop fresh-water cooling system, the engine block is protected by anti-freeze, making it much easier to drain raw water from the system.

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