Crash Test Boat: early reaction

One crewman’s lifeless body lay hanging through the smoking fore-hatch, while the helmsman lay unconscious in the cockpit with horribly twisted limbs turned surreally the wrong way. The boat, a Jeanneau Sun Fizz 40 ketch was minus her coach roof and lay at a 45 degree angle with fire flickering through a cockpit hatch. A simple meal for two had caused a catastrophic explosion.

This is the shocking exhibit which confronts visitors to the 58th London Boat Show 6-15 January at ExCel. Fortunately the injured crew were only dummies, but the Yachting Monthly staff who put the Crash Test Boat through a series of lesson-learning disasters were real enough, led by technical editor, Chris Beeson.

The exhibit has proved immensely popular with show-goers. ‘It really makes you think about getting your gas system checked over, or replacing it completely,’ one South Coast sailor told me. Another said: ‘Thanks for this series of articles they have helped me focus more on safety than I had before.’

The video film displaying the disasters was watched by scores – sometimes the visitors sat themselves on the floor to watch! Our series on sea-cock safety has also proved a hit. One couple who own an Oyster told me: ‘We had never realised that such an integral part of the boat could be made from sub-standard materials we are going to get a surveyor to check ours out before we launch this year.’

Another feature organised by Yachting Monthly is the cruising spinnaker display run by sailing expert John Goode. One sailor said to me:’ Now I know what I’ve been doing wrong – I never realised you clipped the guy onto the sail as well as the sheet – this makes getting the pole off when gybing a lot easier.’

Overall the show is still sort of actual boats: many visitors are complaining they’d like more choice, however improvements have been made at the boardwalk section – where boats have their masts shipped – I counted 19, three times the number on last year.