More than 110,000 people flocked to the 2015 Southampton Boat Show, which drew to a close on Sunday, to experience Britain’s biggest boating festival.
Visitor numbers were down on last year’s footfall of 112,630 people across 10 days, however exhibitors reported strong sales from this year’s event.
The 2015 show saw 23 boats make their world debut and more than 330 sailboats and powerboats exhibited at the purpose-built marina.
Many companies reported an increase on last year’s figures including multi-million pound deals. Some serious marine business were conducted with contracts between the marine divisions of companies such as Rolls-Royce and Sunseeker International being signed.
The show kicked off in style with F1 presenter, Suzi Perry opening the Sunseeker stand with Britain’s Got Talent winners, Collabro.
The Red Arrows provided visitors with a show-stopping display over the purpose-built marina on the first weekend, with sailing legends Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Olympian Annie Lush both making appearances.
Murray Ellis, managing director of British Marine Boat Shows said: ‘We have had yet another incredibly successful Southampton Boat Show with more than 10,000 visitors getting out on the water for free.
‘Our attractions have been very popular this year with over 18,000 visits to our tall ship , the Earl of Pembroke, 5,300 rides on the Honda Boat Show Eye and over 27,000 visitors to the Show’s very own Aquarium.
‘Sales have been excellent this year with visitors having the opportunity to purchase from an array of products from bags made of recycled sails to multi million pound yachts. There has been an exuberant atmosphere, once again confirming the Southampton Boat Show as one of the leading Boat Shows in the world.’
PBO at the show
The PBO Project Boat Hantu Biru was one of the stars of the show, with visitors lining up to enter a prize draw competition to win the fully restored Snapdragon 23 yacht.
PBO subscriber Matt Thomas, from Yorkshire, said: ‘I feel I know this boat inside out. They’ve put a hell of a lot of work into it. If I won the competition I’d have to find somewhere to keep it, we live as far away from the sea as you can get, in the middle of Yorkshire.
‘I’ve been interested in boats since I was six years old when my Dad built a dinghy and I’ve always dreamed of owning something like this.’
Steve Harwood, from Tonbridge, Kent, said: ‘I can’t wait to read the latest issue to read about Hantu Biru crossing the Channel.
‘I’ve been following since forever. When you look at the GRP and the way it’s been brought back to life, I’ve got a boat that’s younger and it isn’t as good as that. It’s really impressive.’
Robin Young, from Melbourne, Australia, said: ‘I occasionally read the Boat Owner, when I ca get it. It’s one of the best magazines because it’s so practical.’
Jean Louis Caillerie travelled to Southampton from Brittany just to see the PBO Project Boat, on Sunday – one of the rainiest days of the show.
He said: ‘I came across the Channel just to see the boat. I think it’s the last time to see the boat as a free boat, owned by the magazine.
‘I think it was a very good project. The French boating magazines are good for dreaming but PBO is very interesting because it’s very practical.
‘I get PBO every month, it is my annual gift from my wife for birthday, Christmas, all the occasions!’
Sunseeker International sales director, Sean Robertson said: ‘We’ve enjoyed an excellent Southampton Boat Show this year with over £35million of confirmed orders and several more in the pipeline, as usual it’s also been a real pleasure to welcome so many visitors and special guests to the stand.’
Nisos Yacht Charter owner, Rowan Carver said: ‘This year has been excellent. It seems to be getting better each year and there has been a great quality of visitors this year. This is our fifth year here, and we have had an increase of commitment from customers, compared to previous years, with holidays being booked over six months in advance.
‘The show has given us a good start for 2016, and provides us with confidence for the London Boat Show. The atmosphere has been very positive, which has made everything better, both inside and out.’
YachtSurfer (brand from Exmoor Technology), business development manager, Warren D’Souza said: ‘We are very happy. We are used to the show and we did more business in the first three days than we did at the whole show last year. I think our products are better, the branding is better and it has been a great show. I think the Red Arrows created a buzz and gave people another reason to come for a day out. We are going to London and will do Southampton again next year.’
Ben Coombes Small Craft Ltd owner, Ben Coombes said: ‘As a first timer at Southampton Boat Show, it has been an excellent 10 days with strong customer interest and many new industry contacts. As a classic wooden boat builder from the Isle of Wight, it’s great to link with wooden boat enthusiasts from across the UK. Our winter calendar is filling up with demo sails for my wooden scows, as well as some restorations. I even met the owners of one of the first scows my grandfather built over 60years ago. It’s been fantastic to promote the beauty and craftsmanship of wooden boats and I’m looking forward to returning next year.’