Why do boat shows have to be so long?


When September comes around each year it’s the beginning of the boat show season. In Europe it’s kicked off by the Dutch HISWA in water show, followed by La Rochelle, Cannes, Southampton, Monaco, Genoa before moving across the Atlantic to Newport, Annapolis and Fort Lauderdale then back to Barcelona and METS. After Christmas we have London and Dusseldorf and there are loads more. You could make a career of show going without a break for holidays.

I normally spend time at four or five, this year it’s been London, Dusseldorf, Southampton, Monaco and Annapolis. All are very different but my favourite, for several reasons is the Annapolis Sailboat Show.

It’s not just that it’s a pleasant city, nor the number and variety of boats exhibited, nor the wonderful local seafood. It’s a combination of all of these plus the fact that the show runs for only five days and is sail only. Then, in a hectic 24 hours all of the boats leave, the temporary marina is dismantled and most of the shoreside exhibits, Yachting World included, broken down. The powerboats arrive, the marina is re-built, the shoreside tents re-populated and bingo, the Annapolis Powerboat Show begins and runs for five days.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the same happened at Southampton? Five days is quite long enough for any boat show, being sail or power only would take up less space and the logistics of the changeover could be even simpler than at Annapolis. And all the larger boats could be viewed in their element, afloat. As a veteran of more shows than I care to admit to – I once calculated that I had spent well over a year just at London and Southampton shows – my feet and my back would be very grateful for such a move.