More people, tighter layout


As Somali cleaners vacuumed the blue carpet, exhibitors packed up the last of their cardboard boxes and commissionaires started to bristle with authority, the 1960’s pop song, My Generation, by The Who, serenaded the first footers of the second Sail, Power & Watersports Show at London’s Earls Court.

The first exhibit which caught my eye were around 50 Vespa motor-scooters parked up. ‘Good to see those again,’ I said to the 50-something salesman, who was foot-tapping as Roger Daltry sang ‘Why don’t you just fffff-ade away…’. ‘But what have they go to do with boats?’

‘A lot of people buy them for their boats instead of bicycles,’ he said,’and at only 70 kilograms and 120 miles to the gallon they are catching on …fast.’

Moving on I flicked through the £3 show guide to find out which boats were to be sold on the opening day, one of the show’s novel innovations is to hold an auction daily, and discovered I could bid on a Maurice Griffiths (former editor of YM) designed Waterwitch 24 lying in Falmouth (starting price £1,710), an Alan Pape ketch lying on the Hamble (starting price £40,500) or a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42 lying at Poole (starting price £22,485).

Southerly, J boats, Grand Soleil, and Bavaria all have boats here, but this is a show to enjoy smaller yachts, like Folkboat, Westerly (represented by the Westerly Owner’s Association) and Dolphin Boats.

This is a show,also, to enjoy the best dayboats around and my boat of the show is the Scangard 21, a majestically- lined dayboat with a voluminous locker under the foredeck which I would convert into a cuddy. She only draws 3ft and at £14,950 is not a bad deal for a new build.

Asked how I was finding it, by show PR woman Peta Stuart-Hunt, I repeated the above: this was a show for small boats.

‘We say affordable boats. We have got a 47 footer here,’ she replied.

‘Yes, but mostly they are smaller boats,’ I insisted.

‘Accessible boats,’ she said, as Shine on You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd, started to sooth our ears.

And, taken at face value, I would say there is definately room for two London shows: one for big boats the other for ‘affordable’ ones. Show director James Brooke certainly thinks so, he’s already named the dates for next year’s Sail, Power & Watersports Show: 25-29 November.

This show was certainly tighter in layout and busier on Day One – around 2,000 people had entered by midday – than last year’s edition. And, as one exhibitor said as the Rolling Stones’ song Little Red Rooster blared out: ‘It’s good to be back.’ Nostalgia still rules at Earls Court and perhaps, in these days of economic uncertainty, that’s hardly surprising.