The Southampton Boat Show kicked off this morning with Britain’s Olympic sailing team and actress Michelle Keegan as special guests.

Other big names including round-the-world yachtswomen Dame Ellen MacArthur, Jeanne Socrates and Dee Caffari, and comedian Jennifer Saunders were in attendance on day one of the 10-day show, which runs until Sunday 25 September.

Europe’s biggest outdoor boating festival showcases the very best that the international sailing and water sports world has to offer. With hundreds of boats on display, including 330 on the water on the show’s purpose-built marina.

Michelle Keegan at the Southampton Boat Show. Credit: onEdition 2016

Michelle Keegan at the Southampton Boat Show. Credit: onEdition 2016

Michelle Keegan, who stars in the new hit BBC show, Our Girl, said ‘I’m so excited to be a part of this year’s show. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time onboard boats around the world, but there’s nothing like seeing all these spectacular boats displayed together in one place here in the UK. It’s an incredible experience.’

Fresh from competing at the Rio 2016 Games, the British Sailing Team including Olympic medallists, Giles Scott, Saskia Clark, Hannah Mills and Nick Dempsey took centre stage at this year’s launch events.

Saskia Clark, Women’s 470 dinghy gold medallist, said: ‘Having an annual event like the Southampton Boat Show that gives the opportunities for people to try out different types of water activities is crucial for the sport of sailing. Who knows, maybe the next generations of Olympic medallists are among us here today?’

Windsurfer Bryony Shaw said: ‘There’s a certain buzz about it, because it’s really accessible to the general boating community but you can also dream about all the Sunseekers and see all the luxury side as well.

‘It’s nice because it covers both and you can always come away with some kind of new dream or gadget. It’s welcoming for all kinds of boaters.’

PBO at the show

Dave Selby on the Marlin Mission stand at the Southampton Boat Show 2016

Dave Selby on the Marlin Mission stand at the Southampton Boat Show 2016. Credit: Laura Hodgetts

Visitors to the Arena zone of the show, near the main gate, won’t be able to miss the 18ft Sailfish, Marlin, which is bedecked with freshly laundered (we hope!) underwear and bunting.

Marlin’s owner, PBO columnist Dave Selby, has completed a 338-mile Marlin’s Mission charity voyage in the boat from Maldon, Essex to reach the show, raising awareness about the joys of small boat ownership and funds for the Guillain Barre charity.

Throughout the show, you can find practical demonstrations, informative talks and members of the PBO team at Dave’s stand A134.

PBO columnist Sam Llewellyn will be doing a talk tomorrow at 10.30am.

A crowd gathered for Dave Selby's press day launch

A crowd gathered for Dave Selby’s press day launch

Dave welcomed visitors to his stand and said: ‘Why have I sailed from the civilised and sophisticated East Coast riviera to this backwater?

‘Well it’s called Marlin’s Mission. I want to share the joy of boat ownership. It’s certainly transformed my life.

‘I write for PBO, which is a magazine especially for people who can’t afford proper boats. I’ve got a Sailfish 18 which has been described as the Reliant Robin of the sea.

‘In fact that’s unfair to Reliant Robins and a matter that’s subject to litigation.

‘I think the Sailfish is more akin to the Portaloo and I feel safe saying that because as far as I know the Portaloo Owner’s Association went down the pan.’

Dave said the growing fleet of fibreglass boats, which don’t rust like metal or rot like wood, means boats are getting cheaper and cheaper, coupled with an ageing population of people selling boats was creating ‘a perfect storm’.

He said: ‘You can buy a boat for the cost of a family holiday and it will give you a lifetime of holidays – you won’t enjoy them but they’ll be cheaper.’

Dave described being ‘paralysed from the waist down’ when he was struck down with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, an acquired immune-mediated inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nervous system, in 2012.

He said: ‘Every five weeks I go into hospital and the antibodies of 800 people are pumped into me. It’s very, very humbling. But it’s also a blessing because I’ve found strangers who have become friends and friends who have done remarkable things.

‘I wouldn’t be doing this if it hadn’t happened.’

He added: ‘Before I bought a boat I thought I’d never be able to afford one, but that was because I only saw new boats. Then I started to learn the market and realised I could afford a second-hand boat. PBO magazine helped me with that.’

Bring your lifejacket to the show and SeaSafe, who have supplied Dave’s custom lifejackets and safety equipment, will give free checks on Dave’s stand (A134), and are providing a servicing collection point for those that need it – for a charge of around £9.

Jeremy Dale, SeaSafe managing director, explained why he was so keen to support Marlin’s Mission: ‘Maxim Marine made over 800 Sailfish designed by my father Henry Dale. I was involved in the very first ones before I went away to do an apprenticeship.

‘Dave’s boat Marlin was made in Warsash, so when I read that Dave was looking for sponsorship, owning a safety company and being a softy for charitable causes I said to Dave “What do you need? And by the way I helped build your boat.”‘

Seaglaze are providing new windows which Dave and the PBO team will fit during the show. Silky Marine will transform Marlin’s faded and stained hull with demos of their boat-cleaning products.

Claudia Myatt has unfortunately had to withdraw from her planned artist-in-residence slot, due to undergoing cataracts surgery, however show visitors can browse her artwork and mug designs and 25% of any sale proceeds will go towards Dave’s charity fundraising.

Dave Selby with PBO readers Stuart and Jenni Morris

Dave Selby with PBO readers Stuart and Jenni Morris

PBO readers Stuart and Jenni Morris, from Muddiford, who won this year’s Beaulieu Boatjumble competition were spotted at Dave’s stand.

Stuart said: ‘I absolutely love Dave’s column, it’s the first page I read in the mag. It was lovely to meet him.

‘I didn’t realise he had the illness, to talk to him and find out how it just came on, it’s just horrendous.

‘I think Marlin’s Mission is fantastic. He’s such a character.’

He added: ‘I also love the PBO guys. I stopped buying the magazine for a while to be honest, it just lost its way and was too much for the big people, going away from the practical boat owner who does things themselves because they can’t afford anything else.

‘But now, with the Project Boat and the new boat David and Ben are building from a kit, it’s been really interesting, really good.

‘How many people have thought about building a boat themselves? And it’s real, when they had to clear out the garage first of all because it’s the only space they’ve got and it just won’t fit in otherwise – it makes it all for the small guy, the people who sail on a shoestring.’

For the latest PBO subscription deals visit the Time Inc marine media stand E1, where the subscription gifts include either a Aqua Pac Dry bag or Gill Marine Dry towel.

Map of new layout SBS 2016

Show highlights

This year’s free on-water experiences, include Try-a-Boat, offering opportunities onboard a variety of boats from the latest rigid inflatable boats to large yachts, and Get Afloat! where 8-16 year olds can try out dinghy sailing and Stand Up Paddleboarding.

Visitors to the show tomorrow, Saturday 17 September are encouraged to head to the Festival Stage to find fashion shows, music from tribute act Fake Tan and lots more entertainment.

On Sunday 18 September, the Royal Navy’s parachute display team will perform above the show’s waters from 2pm.

Other aerial displays from a Submarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane will take place on the final weekend, 24-25 September.

Visitors to the show on Saturday 24 September will be invited to take part in the show’s Guinness World Record Attempt to create the ‘Largest human image of a boat’.

Southampton Boat Show. Credit: onEdition2016

Southampton Boat Show marina. Credit: onEdition 2016

Ladies Day on Thursday 22 September will feature live music performances from the likes of Might Be Bublé, fashion shows and ‘spot prizes’ handed out by official media partner for the occasion, the Southern Daily Echo, for the best dressed ladies. The Honda Champagne Bar will hold a Ladies Hour from 2pm to 3pm where every woman who buys a drink will have the chance to pick the winning key to open a padlock of prizes.

Throughout the event, the Artemis tall ship, which has been sailed to the show from the Netherlands, is welcoming visitors aboard.

Bumper Boats, sponsored by Sunseeker in support of Macmillan Cancer Trust, offers children the opportunity to master steering on a pool – and can be found in the Arena area – next to Dave Selby’s stand!

More than 130 new boats are debuting at the show, including Hanse 588, Cormate U23 Racing Edition and Greenline Hybrid 36, Azimut 55S and Sunseeker Predator 68 MK II.

Almost 600 brands are exhibiting at the show this year, with nearly 30 of these making their first appearance, including powerboat manufacturers BIC Aluminium and Alpha-Centauri and sail yacht brands North Carolina (EDPNC) and Nautor’s Swan.

Ellen MacArthur’s charity yacht

Dame Ellen MacArthur (centre) at the handover of an Oceanis 45 to the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust at the Southampton Boat Show. Credit: onEdition

Dame Ellen MacArthur (centre) at the handover of an Oceanis 45 to the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust at the Southampton Boat Show. Credit: onEdition

Today, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust were handed ownership of their highly anticipated new yacht, which will enable them to better support young people from the North of England and Scotland particularly those with mobility issues resulting from their cancer treatment.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, who founded the Trust with the aim of rebuilding young people’s confidence in their recovery from cancer, joined Ash Overton of Ancasta, and head of charities Clara Govier from People’s Postcode Lottery on the boat to receive the keys.

The purchase was made possible after the trust received an additional £200,000 at the People’s Postcode Lottery Charity Gala from players of People’s Postcode Lottery to invest into a yacht for their newest base in Largs, Scotland, which opened in early 2013.

With advice and support from Beneteau, Ancasta and Hamble Yacht Services Refit and Repair the boat was carefully selected, purchased and modified with extra handrails and subtle altering of the cabin space to make life on board easier. The companionway is less steep than usual, winches have more space around them and the stern of the boat lowers to pontoon height to enable easier access.

The yacht will expand the trust’s capacity to be able to offer day sails for the families of young people who are too ill to join the four day trips.

Dame Ellen, who made history in 2004 as the fastest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed, said: ‘What’s interesting is it doesn’t feel in any way like a modified boat, it’s very subtle but it will make a huge difference.

‘The majority of our young people sail on normal 40ft boats, no challenge is insurmountable, but this makes it easier. We’re really lucky to have our first new, modified boat.’

She added: ‘I’ve not been to the boat show for a few years. Sailing here today brought back a lot of memories of coming here in 1995 with my little 21ft Corribee, doing a round-Britain trip when I was 18.

‘It was nice to come in with the trust boat now, many years later, with a charity team that’s doing far more impressive stuff than sailing around Britain in a Corribee.’

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national organisation set up 13 years ago by Dame Ellen to give young people in recovery from cancer the opportunity to take part in sailing trips to rebuild their confidence.

This year, the trust has helped more than 600 youngsters – up from eight the inaugural year.

Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust skippers Hannah Spencer and Dan Monk

Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust skippers Hannah Spencer and Dan Monk

Dan Monk, 30, from Essex, learnt to sail with the trust while recovering from acute myeloid leukemia. He has since achieved his Yachtmaster qualification and now works as a skipper for the charity.

He said: ‘I came as one of the first young people, the second trip they’d ever done.

‘I was the first person to come back as a volunteer.

‘I’d never ever sailed before in my life, I loved it straight away, the sun, sea, breeze in my face. After being in hospital for nine months looking at the same four walls it was amazing.’

Dan, who is fully recovered ’11 years all clear this year’ added: ‘I first sailed with the trust aged 16, then I relapsed and they gave me the opportunity to go sailing again. When I was in hospital I kept thinking ‘I want to get out on the water. I believe the trust saved my life. I believe it’s 50% medicine, 50% up here [positive thinking].

‘Sailing was like medicine, it kept me smiling.

‘Now I get to do that for other young people. I do this in the summer and then work as a personal trainer the rest of the time, trying to help people recover from cancer and get back to fitness.’

ARC Channel Islands 2017 – rally launch at the Southampton Boat Show

Would you like to know more about ARC Channel Islands? Join World Cruising Club and RYA Active Marina for refreshments and the launch of ARC Channel Islands 2017 this Sunday 18 September, from 4pm-5pm in the RYA Members’ Lounge at the Southampton Boat Show.

The event will provide an opportunity to learn about the rally, first time channel crossings, what makes the Channel Islands so popular for cruisers and mix with like-minded sailors. Crews from 2016 will be on hand to answer your questions and you can chat to the experts.

The launch is free to attend with advanced registration and takes place within the Southampton Boat Show at the RYA Members’ Lounge in the Holiday Inn (you will need a valid ticket to the boat show to attend). Click here to register.

For more information about the show, and to buy tickets, visit: