The London Boatshow is complimented by the Bike and Outdoor shows from today and it’s late opening tonight, but is it worth the trek?

I admit, I couldn’t help but enter the Excel exhibition centre in a slightly negative frame of mind on Monday. Not only was it a peculiar day for a ‘press day,’ but according to a radio broadcast that morning, it was the most depressing day of the year – plus there had been more pre-show doubts cast by the masses over London’s future than any I have ever experienced before.
Yes, the show is only half the size in terms of physical space and there is only a scant offering of new yachts – but these things I knew before entering. Once through the (original) western entrance, my first thoughts quickly changed to positive ones however, with a convivial buzz in the air as I set about trying to unlock the logic of National Boatshows’ latest floorplan.
Each of the exhibitors I spoke to confirmed this upbeat mood, following a busy first weekend’s trading.

The good:
– The ‘World Cruising’ section supported by the WCC – intriguing to see three designs that have truly been there and done it, and learn from how they’re kitted out. (The Nich’ 38 Nutmeg appealing personally).
– The caliber of new yachts is very high including the Oyster 625, Southerly 47, Gunfleet 43, Mystery 35 plus Grand Soleils, Hanses and Dehlers, the Elan 350 and the already incredibly popular J/70 sportsboat.
– There’s a hearty amount of chandlery, clothing and electronics stands, and they’re all up the ‘sailboat’ end, within a horseshoe’s throw from the new yachts.
– The Guinness bar is still there (but it should be a central feature)

The bad:
– Positioning the Sunseeker stand right across the centre of the show. Not only does it cut it the show in half (again), making it feel unnecessarily small, but creates an ‘us and them’ feel (fortunately all the visitors seemed to be in the ‘us’ end).
– No pool, no heart, and no real ‘show’ element.
– The food and drink is even more expensive.

The plane odd
– There’s more ‘what’s that doing in a boatshow?’ type stand-fillers than ever, topped by back-pain/rheumatic alleviation stands than you’d find .

So on reflection, yes London is definitely still worth the visit, particularly if you have a shopping list to complete for the spring fit-out or want to book a charter holiday. The train connections worked well (30 minutes from Waterloo or 45 minutes from Paddington) and it was good to see reasonable numbers still flocking there.
For those missing the show element of a boatshow, the bike and outdoor part kicks off opposite today which will provide extra draw – while if you want to see glam cars, glam models, hovercrafts, hot tubs with sound systems, private cinemas etc, well that’s all on offer down at the ‘them’ end with the motorboats.


[There may not be many carbon fibre boats at Excel, but there is a Zonda at least…]

For those wanting to see this year’s new yacht launches however – get yourself to Dusseldorf from Saturday. I’ll be reporting from there soon…