The 2018 London Boat Show drew to a close on Sunday 14 January amidst incredible sales reports, a vibrant atmosphere, strong visitor numbers and the fantastic launch of the all new Boating & Watersports Holiday Show. The changes made to the 2018 Show were a success amongst exhibitors and visitors alike, highlighting a renewed confidence in the future of the London Boat Show, with many companies instantly requesting space for 2019.
Over the course of the five-day event, more than 52,000 visitors enjoyed a range of boats and products on offer from 347 exhibitors; this represents a significant average daily increase on attendance from 2017. Attracting attention from visitors and media around the globe, the Show offered a fantastic platform to launch 94 brand new products. Eleven World debuts included the magnificent Princess V50, Hanse 348 and Rodman’s Spirit 42 Coupe, with the Sunseeker 76 offering visitors the chance to see the biggest boat at the Show.
Princess stand – The Best of British
With brand new attractions for 2018, the Show provided more opportunities for visitors to get on the water for free – or learn and practise new skills on dry land. Powered by Rockley Watersports, ‘Chalk and talk’ sessions on the Show’s new Beach Club gave visitors an insight into some of the latest watersports activities, before trying them out on the Activity Pool. Close to 500 people also enjoyed the wakeboarding experience located in the new Adventure Park. The Lock and Waterside Pub, overlooking the new inland boating attraction, provided a welcome pitstop for a well-deserved pint and gave a feeling of life next to the waterways. On Saturday (13 January) alone, over 3,000 people paid a visit to just some of the new inland boats on display for 2018, demonstrating that staycations are still high on the list as a holiday experience of choice.
Keen boaters and novices flocked to the Practical Boat Owner Theatre where they crowded around to listen intently to their expert heroes such as Tom Cunliffe, Dave Selby and Stokey Woodall offering advice on how to kit up for the next cruise, what to take, or boating on a budget.
The live programme of features continued at the Legends Theatre, presented by British Marine, with Sky Sports Presenter, Alec Wilkinson on hand to deliver a terrific programme to a continually packed audience. Heroes across the sailing world who appeared on stage included Mike Golding, Dee Caffari, Alex Thompson, who also collected the prestigious YJA Yachtsman of the Year award at the Show, and a joint appearance by female sailing icons Tracy Edwards MBE and Sam Davies. YouTube stars, Sailing La Vagabonde, were also a star attraction. A key moment on the stage included honouring future talent with the announcement of the Superyacht UK Young Designer competition winner, in partnership with Pendennis Shipyard and Olesinski; the competition has proved fascinating to watch across the first two days of the event.
HRH The Princess Royal (pictured on the RIBEYE stand) gave the Show a regal feel on the opening day as she toured the event and presented Hannah Stodel with the celebrated RYA Yachtmaster of the Year award. Footballing hero, Sir Geoff Hurst and BT Sports Presenter, Jake Humphrey, officially opened the Sunseeker International stand and were joined by the prestigious Jules Rimet Trophy. Other famous faces included former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, Red Bull Team Principle, Christian Horner and TV stars Lorraine Kelly, Nick Knowles and James Martin. Political figures, the Rt Hon. Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairburn received a detailed insight into the strength of the leisure marine industry.
The success of the Show has been reflected in the significant interest it has received from several companies not exhibiting at this year’s event but wanting a presence at the 2019 Show. These include Mastercraft Boats, who wants to now exhibit at both the London and TheYachtMarket.com Southampton Boat Shows. This year’s exhibitors already confirming include Swallow Boats, Bayliner, Cobra Ribs, Compass Marine, Go Earth, Nfun Yachting UK, Elite Sailing, GB Helicopters, Sailing Holidays, Arba Nautika, The SUP Company. Hobo Yachting, Rockley Watersports, Banks Martin, Topper, Morton Boats, Ullman Sails, Boatylicious, Tingdene Marina and more. Zodiac, who has had a presence at the Show each year, has already indicated that it will be taking its own stand to increase its presence.
Powerboat racing has never been a major player at the London nautical extravagaza but 2018 proved an exception. Tom Montgomery-Swan’s Phantom ‘Sunus’ powered by two Mercury Verado 400 R outboards performed exceptionally well in the 2017 Marathon class and also set new speed records on Lake Windermere. The Sunus team are hopeful of another successful 2018 season competing in the Marathon class. The Verado 400R is the most powerful outboard produced by Mercury for the consumer market.
Dorian Griffith’s Fountain ‘Blast Off’ filled the runner-up berth in the 2016 Cowes-Torquay-Cowes race and is another Marathon contender this term. Griffith’s Fountain is powered by two Yanmar 6LY2A STP 440hp turbo diesels. Now the UK offshore division has broken away from the RYA, suggests the Marathon division should be considerably more active than in recent season and it is hoped over ten of the larger class will compete in the three meetings lined up for 2018.
Howard Pridding, British Marine CEO, comments: “The 2018 London Boat Show has provided an essential platform to showcase the very best of the marine industry to a global audience. We’re delighted that the changes we have implemented have been such a success. Offering a new five-day format has allowed us to attract more new and first-time exhibitors than ever before.
“The atmosphere has been vibrant, and our new attractions gave everyone the chance to experience and interact with the Show. With an average daily attendance of just over 10,000 we’ve enjoyed more concentrated crowds of visitors at the Show than we’ve experienced for many years, particularly on the very busy Saturday.”
Howard concludes: “With the latest industry figures demonstrating a sixth continuous year of growth within the sector, this year’s Show has continued along that terrific vein. We pay tribute to and thank our exhibitors who were the stars of the Show.”
The 2019 London Boat Show will take place from Wednesday 9 – Sunday 13 January 2019.