A stroll down memory lane


I went to Earls Court on Friday for press day of the new Whyte and Mackay Boat Show. It was like stepping back in time and I loved it. It made me realise that I used to, dare I say it, enjoy going to London Boat Shows when they were at Earls Court. Instead now we have a couple of sterile warehouses full of boats at Excel, miles away on the far reaches of the Docklands Light Railway – well for a south west Londoner anyway.

The boats at Earls Court might be a bit thin on the ground and the aisles might be a bit wider. They might be smaller and less glamourous than at Excel. Upstairs might be bereft of chandlers and gear but the Show has just so much buzz.

The lovely Penny Lancaster, aka Mrs ‘I am Sailing’ Rod Stewart, performed the opening ceremony, cutting the ribbon with a pair of scissors delivered by a Marine who had abseiled from the roof of the hall. That was theatre. And the opening ceremony would, I am afraid, have put National Boat Shows’ efforts at Excel to shame.

So there were not many boats to look at and not much gear (though I did come home with a radio controlled helicopter) but if that’s how you judge a Boat Show you’re missing the point. The Whyte and Mackay Earls Court Boat Show is an event. It’s where you go to meet your friends, where you go to talk sailing with the experts and where you go to consume the odd pint or two of Guinness at the official Guinness stand.

I urge you to go. You never know. You might go home with a helicopter.

Picture by Mark Lloyd