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Southampton International Boat Show celebrates successful event

by Joe Gallop

Southampton International Boat Show drew to a close on 19 September with organisers, exhibitors, sponsors and visitors hailing the show as one of the best yet.

The event, organised by British Marine, showcased over 350 marine brands with some 500 boats on display, including many UK and global debuts. The show welcomed over 88,000 visitors across the 10 days – down 14% from 2019.

This year’s show featured a new layout, larger footprint and five new dedicated zones – Watersports, Classic & Dayboat, Dinghy, On The Water and Festival Green.

Opened by members of the British Olympic Sailing Team, Ian Cooke, president of British Marine and Southampton City councillor Daniel Fitzhenry, visitors were queuing at the new entrance at Westquay to explore the new show format. At the new Dinghy zone visitors were able to chat with the Olympians, ask questions about the games, see their boats on display, check out their medals and have their photo taken with them.

According to organisers, Premier League footballer, Bukayo Saka (guest of the show’s Automotive Partner Bentley Motors), singer-songwriter Jamiroquai (Jay Kay), Georgia Toffolo (Toff) and Andrew Jordan from TV show Made in Chelsea, were spotted in the crowds.

The largest motor yachts on display were the Sanlorenzo SX88 and Sunseeker 88, while the largest sailing yacht was the Hallberg Rassy 57. Over 30 yachts made their world, UK or show debut either on the marina or on land.

With presentations from guest speakers on the Foredeck stage and the On The Water stage the show has been promoting accessibility and engagement, from SailGP’s Inspire programme to tales from round-the-world yachtsmen and women such as Mike Golding OBE and Pip Hare.  The Women In Marine event was hailed as a success and featured stories at sea from Allie Smith, group events director at Oyster Yachts.

Organisers said this year’s show saw a 25% increase from 2019 for people taking to the water, with over 13,760 visitors doing so, from beginners to seasoned sailors and there’s been a real appetite to try something new.

Now three years into its five-year pledge, the Southampton International Boat Show had asked exhibitors to commit to an environmental pledge that helped the 2019 show divert over 7.5tons of waste from landfills. This included a ban on all plastic straws, reduced use of single plastic and the use of e-tickets and QR codes.

British Marine also presented Exhibitor Environmental Awards to joint winners Premier Marinas and Bentley Motors for their efforts in reducing environmental impact and introducing sustainable working practices.  

Ian Cooke, president of British Marine, said: “Additional Covid-19 measures were introduced at the show, to help keep everyone safe, including proof of negative lateral flow tests. The majority of visitors seemed happy to have these extra measures and, given the circumstances, the Boat Show has been a phenomenal success which proves that confidence is back.”

Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, said: “This year’s show has been a resounding success with a fabulous atmosphere as exhibitors and visitors alike have been enjoying meeting face-to-face. The feedback we’ve had from brands across the industry has been phenomenal indicating very strong sales from quality visitors.

“We’ve put even more emphasis into appealing to visitors of all backgrounds and interests, ages and ability than ever before.  We’ve welcomed everyone from boating newbies to seasoned sailors and watersports enthusiasts, whether trying something for the first time or sharpening their skills.

Robinson added: “The wide choice of sailing yachts, motor boats, accessories, paddle boards, kayaks and services across the new layout over 10 days has been incredibly well-received.  We are very much looking forward to building on the success of this resurgence and the new dates for next year, 16 -25 September 2022.”

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