It may lack the glamorous setting of Monte Carlo or Miami, but the London Boat Show remains an important event on the yacht industry calendar. We give you the low-down on this year’s show.
It is true to say that when one thinks of the world’s finest yachting destinations, London is not one that instantly springs to mind. Yet its influence on the yacht industry has arguably never been greater than it is today. With some of the world’s leading yacht designers and brokerage firms based in the capital, not to mention a vast cohort of high-net-worth individuals who are either already yacht owners or prospective buyers, London is firmly positioned at the epicentre of global yachting activity.
Last month, the city’s ExCel conference centre played host to the 62nd annual London Boat Show, which each year sees the yachting world come together for 10 days of networking, deal-making and showcasing of some of the world’s most beautiful and technologically advanced recreational yachts. Indeed, while the show’s programme is always packed with original features, the star attraction is inevitably the yachts on display and in particular those never before seen by the public. And there was little doubt over the launch that grabbed most of the attention this year, with famous British yacht maker Sunseeker officially unveiling the Sunseeker 131, the largest boat ever to make its debut at the event.
No surprise, therefore, to learn that the show now extends over the equivalent of six football pitches. But while much of this space is taken up by the ocean-going behemoths themselves, the 300 brands in attendance span every sector of the marine industry, from travel operators to watersports and electronics manufacturers. This year’s show was given the theme of ‘Innovation through the ages’, celebrating ground-breaking design from the 1960s through to the current day. The main focal point of this was a ‘60s revival’ exhibition which included an array of classic boats and other retro vehicles such as a Fairey Huntsman 28, a Riva Junior and a Mirror Dinghy, as well as an Amphicar amphibious car and a Jaguar E-Type.
The ‘Mediterranean Bay’, meanwhile, was another huge hit, featuring a purpose-built swimming pool where experts were on hand to perform water sports demonstrations and teach visitors how to moor a boat. It proved a popular addition to the programme, helping create a family-friendly atmosphere with children lining up in their droves to take part in the aquatic fun. But the educational component to the show didn’t stop there, with a specially curated ‘theatre’ production inviting leading boat experts to discuss a range of subjects. Among those to take part were Sir Ben Ainslie, whose status as the most successful sailor in Olympic history along with his role as team captain in the current America’s Cup makes him a fascinating speaker on all boating matters.
It all amounted to another fruitful and action-packed year for the London Boat Show, which continues to help steer the fast-moving yacht industry in the right direction.
The 2016 London Boat Show took place between the 8th–17th January.