Ahoy there! The show is celebrating its 45th year

A total of 7,475 visitors flocked to the opening day of the PSP Southampton Boat Show 2013.

Numbers were down seven per cent on last year’s first day, which attracted 8,014 people but organisers said advance ticket sales were going strong, with more tickets sold in the last 24 hours compared to the same period a year ago.

Britain’s best-loved boat show got underway on Friday with a hive of activity, world launches and special guests who braved the mixed conditions of sunshine and showers.

The celebrity cast of The Mayflower Theatre’s Christmas pantomime: ‘Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates’ got the show off to a dramatic start, as Brian Conley and Lesley Joseph – of ITV’s Birds of a Feather fame – posed on a replica Phoenician ship.

Lesley said: ‘It’s fantastic, the show is wonderful and the boats are amazing, it’s like entering Fantasy Island.

‘I have a little Scow dinghy myself. I learnt to sail about 20 years ago and although I’ve been too busy to do much lately, I love being on the sea whenever I can.’

Brian said: ‘I’ve had my fair share of moments on boats over the years, I’ve got a few friends who own boats but some of the superyachts here are amazing, like works of art.

‘I won’t be getting one unless I win the lottery or unless lots of people come and see me in the pantomime with the lovely Lesley Joseph.’

Something for everyone

Royal Marines joined PSP’s managing director Frank Dixie, marketing director Jo Dixie-Goodwin and National Boat Shows managing director Murray Ellis for the official ribbon cutting.

Murray said: ‘We are pleased to present an astounding 30 world debuts, 48 UK debuts, three European launches and 39 boats which are brand new to the PSP Southampton Boat Show.

‘This, teamed with new marine technology and the host of attractions which are on offer for visitors to try, means that this year’s Show really does offer something for everyone.’

The opening day saw the world debuts of Princess Yachts International’s 43, V48 and 88 Motor Yachts, the Fairline Squadron 48 and Sunseeker’s Manhattan 55, 68 and 80 Sport Yachts to name but a few.

Sunseeker’s launch event included music from Iolla Grace and Amore, and a guest appearance from Top Gear star Richard Hammond.

Other first day highlights included Sailing Rallies’ world launch of its brand new Baltic Sailing event; the unveiling of the new Lifedge Waterproof Case for iPhone5s on the Scanstrut stand; and the naming ceremony for the Global Ocean Race where Mike Gascoyne’s Akilaria RC3 Class 40 Caterham Challenge and the Forty (1) Design Class 40 of Team Concise were christened together with crews, team principals, press and visitors joining the celebrations.

‘Gosport’s very own mermaid’

Anna Wardley – acclaimed endurance swimmer – rounded off the day with a meet and greet fundraising event on the Dean and Reddyhoff stand.

She revealed her dream to complete a 56-mile swim around the Isle of Wight could become a reality this Thursday and said: ‘I’m feeling great, I’ve been preparing for the Isle of Wight for such a long time now, it’s just sat there looking at me, it’s about time I swam around it.’

Anna added: ‘When I’m swimming I feed every half an hour but after about 12 hours of swimming you go into a bit of a trance and those half hours feel like two minutes.’

She urged people to send messages of support and donations via her website www.annawardley.com to spur her on.

Show highlights

The 10-day show runs until Sunday, playing host to thousands of boats, brands, products and suppliers all set on one of Europe’s largest purpose-built marinas with over 2km of pontoons.

Visitors can get on the water, pick up new skills or refresh old ones with On The Water’s Try-A-Boat, Get Afloat and Go Solo from the Artemis Offshore Academy, plus free classes at the Skipper Skills attraction and the RYA Active Marina Experience.

This year younger visitors can also try stand up paddleboarding courtesy of Rockley.

Other attractions include an array of unique feature boats as well as the Wooden Boat Builders, who are constructing a life-sized boat in the Arena from scratch throughout the Show.

On the final day, Sunday September 22, there will be action at the Battle of the Classes Pursuit Race.

Find out more and book tickets at www.southamptonboatshow.com