Top tips for a VIP experience at the PSP Southampton Boat Show that need not cost a fortune

Here at Practical Boat Owner magazine we love to put things to the test.

Usually this involves being the Man Over Board on repeat or a bucket of water over the head, so I jumped at the chance to experience a VIP day at the PSP Southampton Boat Show 2014.

First lesson learned is turn up to the show hungry, as the Platinum Experience ticket eases you into the day with tasty pastries, tea and coffee.

An hour’s on water tour on a Fairline Phantom 48 motor yacht, a private lounge and balcony in the Mayflower Complex with marina views, a hot buffet lunch, fruit and cheese board, afternoon tea and cake are also included.

The £125 ticket also encompasses show entry, a private bar (where alcoholic drinks cost extra but tea, coffee, water and juice are free), cloakroom facilities, a showguide, a VIP lapel badge, free access to Wi-Fi plus a hostess in attendance.

The luxury powerboat trip is available at various times throughout the day. I opted for the 11am slot to give me a chance to visit the PBO Project Boat at berth M465 and media centre beforehand. Note to future Platinum ticketholders – give yourself time to walk from the Mayflower Complex to the marina.

After a welcome and short briefing from the skipper, the high performance motor yacht set off at a gentle pace around the marina. We saw the show feature boats the PSP Clipper Race yacht and Tall Ship Phoenix, and the PBO Project Boat Hantu Biru, which is moored close by.

The best views of the show are undoubtedly from the sea and sky. We were shown where the new 100ft Ferris wheel is and and then left the six knot speed limit area to experience the yacht’s two powerful Volvo Penta D9 engine, rated at 575 horsepower each.

Next lesson learned is ask for drinks if you want them while on board, as they are available but were not offered when I was on board.

After an exhilarating ride, we returned to the marina and the skipper let me pose for pics at the helm before welcoming the next group on board.

Private lounge

The Platinum Lounge is located at the end of a corridor, upstairs in the Mayflower Complex, just past the club lounge – where show special guests can be found. It offers a tranquil environment in monochrome with friendly staff. The balcony has superb views of the marina.

Toilets are downstairs and open to the public, although they are much fancier than the posh portaloos on offer elsewhere throughout the show, with wooden doors and a thick orange fur carpet.

The menu looked great with choices including breast of maize-fed chickn, fillet of salmon with crayfish tails, or spinach and ricotta tortellini although I had a meeting so couldn’t experience it.

I made it back to the lounge in time to see the afternoon tea spread but as I had to dash out again for a British Marine Federation talk, again I couldn’t put it to the test but it looked lovely with scone halves ready laden with clotted cream and jam and generous sized cake slices.

Ferris wheel

New for 2014, the show’s 100ft Ferris wheel is well worth a go to experience a bird’s eye view. It costs £3 per person and travels round at a fairly rapid pace but luckily goes around about three times, enabling lots of good photographs to be had of all the different viewpoints.

When I tried it on Monday morning, there was no one in the queue behind, although it had been extremely busy over the weekend, so the attendants allowed us to keep going around six times! We discovered that the circular rail in the centre of the seating pod actually spins it.

So if you want to add to the excitement you can be spinning in addition to going around the big wheel.

Top tips for a great boat show experience

Although the Platinum Experience ticket is great for handing you a top
day at the show on a plate and would make a lovely gift for a boat show
enthusiast, with a little bit of effort you could easily create your own
VIP experience on a budget.

  • Wear comfortable shoes – you will no doubt be doing a lot of walking. Also wear non-marking soft soled shoes for stepping on board boats
  • Wear sun cream, this year’s show has enjoyed spectacular weather so far and it could be a long day in the sun. Friday’s forecast is for a light rain day so take a waterproof jacket/brolly.
  • Take a bottle of water and a rucksack or shoulder bag to hold all the free pens and information leaflets you will no doubt collect along the way. Water bottles can be refilled for free at the Time Inc (UK) stand E1, where you will also find the latest bargain magazine subscription offer for PBO.
  • Take snacks and a packed lunch if you want to avoid paying out at the food stalls at the show.
  • Buy a show guide to find a map of exhibitors and attractions- £5 if bought in advance.
  • For a free Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) ride, head to the Suzuki stand E056 to book your place on a 7.8m Ribcraft, powered by one of Suzuki’s V6 250hp four stroke outboard
    engines and berthed at M019.
  • Visit the PBO Project Boat at berth M465 – see the Snapdragon 23, Hantu Biru, which was bought as a wreck on eBay for £510 two-and-a-half years ago and restored by the PBO team
  • Get on the Southampton Boat Show Eye. For £3, you can enjoy a great view of the show from this 100ft Ferris wheel. Go at a quiet time and you may get a longer ride.
  • Try out the free climbing wall,
    based at the Active Nation stand A132 in the show’s arena. All equipment will be provided, all you need to do is
    turn up!

Standard day tickets to the Southampton Boat Show cost £20, late entry tickets (from 3.30pm) cost £10. Children under 15 go free with a paying adult. Senior citizens living locally can enjoy free entry. Other concessions are available. Find out more here.