Fury of marine trade at 'the show that never was'

The first Portsmouth Boat Show, held at the ‘renaissance’ Gunwharf Quays has been a total flop according to angry exhibitors, some of whom are threatening legal action. Show organiser Graham Kinnersley of County Exhibitions and his staff were accused of ‘sitting in deckchairs eating ice-cream’ while the show became a ‘complete shambles.’

Gilliy Burgess, director of Gosport-based charter company Lostring Sailing told YM: ‘We were promised a prestigious event which would rival the Southampton Boat Show with more than 130,000 visitors. Apparently there were less than 50 visiting the pontoons per day. There was little publicity and when at last a solo sign was put up with one flag they had to borrow my ladder to erect it.’ Lostring spent £1,000 setting up a stall.

David Hawkins, director of Boat Care UK, spent £1,500 on the three day show and sold one £29.99 bottle of speed enhancing fluid to another exhibitor. ‘It was a complete shambles nobody knew about it, yet they had sold it to us as a major event.’ He is taking legal action to get his money back.

Katie Dignam of Atlantis RIBS said: ‘The County Exhibitions staff were sat in deckchairs eating ice-cream, but the director Gordon Kinnersley took his boat show T shirt off once he realised the strength of feeling among exhibitors.’

A spokeswoman for County Exhibitions said: ‘We did everything right but I don’t want to comment.’ Gordon Kinnersley was unavailable for comment as he was in a management meeting when YM called.