But 'fantastic' result in hard times

Visitors to the 55th London Boat Show, at 112,000, were well above the psychologically-damaging 100,000 mark which, as late as last Thursday, organisers feared might not be met.

The figure is 12% below that of 2008, described as ‘a fantastic result’ considering the challenging economic conditions.

The show hosted more than 500 exhibitors and showcased hundreds of boats, ranging from 1.4 metre sailing dinghies to 37 metre tri-deck motor yachts.

On the whole, exhibitors have reported more interest and business than expected, with the majority cautiously optimistic about the results achieved. Some exhibitors had excellent Shows, while others have done very well. International Paints and Navigators & General, for example, were up on last year’s show performance. In general, show exhibitors reported that business is definitely there, only harder to secure. Greater marketing and sales innovations are being used to attract customer interest, a development illustrated by the 1000 sq. meter Suzuki Indoor Harbour.

Model, actress and TV presenter Kelly Brook ensured a sparkling start by officially opening the show on Friday 9 January. Kelly was joined on the Main Stage by crew members of attending Navy frigate, HMS Westminster. Kelly was one of many famous faces to be seen at the Show; among them HRH Princess Royal enjoyed an official tour of the Show on Wednesday 14 January and Bee Gees star Robin Gibb also paid a visit.

Stars of the boating world were present throughout the Show. Dame Ellen MacArthur and Mike Golding on his return to the country were joined by members of Skandia Team GBR, including Olympic gold medallists Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and flatwater canoer Tim Brabants, all of whom were recently decorated in the New Year’s Honours list.