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54th Southampton International Boat Show beats the weather to pull off another amazing show

by British Marine 25 Sep 2023 17:23 BST 15-24 September 2023

The 54th Southampton International Boat Show drew to a close yesterday (Sunday 24 September 2023) and in spite of the weather causing havoc mid-week, with high winds and driving rain, organisers, exhibitors, sponsors and visitors alike have heralded the show a success.

Covering 70,000+ square metres, the show welcomed over 650 craft, with over 350 boats berthed in the marina alone, an increase of 17% year on year. These ranged from the impressive Sunseeker 100 Yacht and the elegant Spirit 75 to the electric hydro-foiling Candela C-8 and craft of all shapes and sizes. The show also welcomed 86 new companies and hosted 78 World and UK debuts.

"There has been a great atmosphere at this year's show. We have been delighted to welcome over 92,000 people over the past 10 days and we had been well on track to hit our target of over 100,000 visitors this year, until the bad weather hit", commented Lesley Robinson, CEO, British Marine. "This year marks our first full show after bouncing back from Covid and since last year's closure out of respect of the Queen's passing and the feedback from exhibitors from across the industry has been positive, with many indicating strong sales", Lesley added.

Rain or shine the show has put a real smile on everyone's face with a fantastic mix of products, talks, entertainment and refreshments. The brand-new shipyard, with its live music and DJ sets proved a real crowd pleaser, the red arrows fly past impressed, whilst celebrity guests including 'Captain Sandy' from TV Show Below Deck Mediterranean, and Daisy Kelliher from Below Deck Sailing Yacht brought the showbiz feel to the show.

Hundreds of people joined Captain Sandy on the Foredeck Stage as she spoke about her career and life at the helm. Following a full revamp, the show's VIP Quayside Club, providing guests with an added touch of luxury to their boat show experience, was a tremendous success and completely sold out.

"Due to lightening on the first Sunday and to the exceptionally high winds on Tuesday and Wednesday, a decision was made to close all of the show's water activities for the safety of our visitors and exhibitors. Despite this we still managed to host over 9,000 visitors on the water, who were able to try everything from dinghy sailing, paddleboarding and kayaking to RIB rides, yacht cruising and motorboating.

"The fantastic new Beach Haven & Watersports Lake, brought to you by Haven Knox-Johnston was a massive hit with visitors as they enjoyed kayaking and paddleboarding, model boating and even SUP yoga. Plus, visitors were also able to get out on the water onboard a selection of incredible and historic craft including the majestic tall ship Thalassa, an F8 landing craft, the motor gun boat 81, the high-speed launch 102 and even a mini cruise ship!

"I would like to offer my thanks to Rockley Waterports, Flexisail, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Andark for making the on (and under) water experiences such a huge success", Lesley added.

Southampton International Boat Show would like to extend its thanks to all the show's sponsors, exhibitors and of course visitors, who make the show a great success.

"With the feedback we receive from visitors and exhibitors our thoughts now turn to planning for next year and we look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2024", concluded Lesley.

Watch the show round up video

What the exhibitors said:

Princess Yachts- Jo Davies, Marketing Manager: "Southampton International Boat Show is the premier show for the UK and for Princess. This year, despite the weather, we've seen a record number of appointments made. The sunny weekend brought out the crowds in significant numbers. It's been very busy for us and a very successful show. British Marine has done a great job expanding the show and there's more to attract people than ever before. The layout of the show is excellent. The Shipyard is a welcome addition and added light and flavour to the show. Princess has been showing 7 models, including the X80 which has been very popular with the launch of the S72. A large number of people wanted to take a look. In spite of turbulent times, we've seen a spike in interest and sales. We will definitely be seeing you next year. Southampton International Boat Show is a marker in our calendar and long may it continue."

SE Yachts - Simon Rosier, Director: "For the first time this year SE Yachts brought four boats, three brands and two premieres to the show - the Arcona 50 by Jeppesen & Pons premiered, the Arcona 435 Mk II, the Arksen 30 & the record-breaking Candela C-8 electric hydrofoiling powerboat. Despite the challenges of the changeable British weather, the footfall on the three stands has been great, we have met and welcomed many people. Whilst there are not many spaces left for new boat orders for 2024, our order book is looking healthy thanks to a great show. We are looking forward to next year already."

Sunsail and The Moorings - Caroline Barbour, UK Marketing Manager: "This year's show has been a great success for both Sunsail and The Moorings, and initial figures show that footfall was up 25% on last year. There was a lot of interest around our new partnership with Dufour Yachts for both brands, and the launch of two unique 50th-anniversary flotillas for Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands and Lefkas. We are especially proud to have won the Southampton International Boat Show Exhibitor Environmental Innovation Award. This recognition highlights the importance and positive impact of our Ocean Promise. We look forward to returning next year" -

boatfolk - Dominic Zammit, Director: "This year was a great show for us to connect with new and existing customers alike. Highlights include being proud winners of the Marina of the Year and Sustainable Marina of the Year awards with 3rd place in the Exhibitor Environmental Award. boatpoint becoming the exclusive UK dealer for Scandinavian boat builder, RYDS, and some great discussions around our boatgen initiative on the Foredeck Stage, with the Andrew Simpson Foundation and our ambassador, Tim Long. The stand was busy with plenty of visitors making the most of our famous boatfolk community hospitality, and we saw an increase in people looking for more information on our Beyonder membership as an alternative to boat ownership. Another wonderful show and we can't wait to be back in 2024!"

Grand RIBS - Dan Arscott, Sales Manager: "The Southampton International Boat Show 2023 has been an amazing show for us. We have certainly taken orders and sold more boats at the show than any other show that we've done. It's been by far the best show. We've bought most of our boats with us as well. We are immediately going to sign up for the 2024 show and bring more boats again next year, bigger boats. It's been a real pleasure exhibiting. Even the set-up and I expect the break as well has been incredibly well organised and everything about the show has been perfect."

Barrus - Ben Allen, General Manager, Marine & Power: "This year has been a really good boat show, we've got people coming back to the show, wanting to get back on the water. Sales have been really positive. Everyone is here, all the brands and there has been a really good vibe this year. We've already rebooked to come back next year and we hope that more people continue to get on the water and enjoy what they are doing."

Karen Underwood, Managing Director, Spirit Yachts: "Really wonderful to be here at the Southampton International Boat Show, we're hoping to be back here next year. We've had a very, very good show, it's always a pleasure to be here. We've had some amazing people come through the door to see us, everyone has been very happy and we're really proud to show this beautiful yacht here in the show. It's an absolute pleasure to be here."

Haven Knox-Johnston - Paul Knox-Johnston, Sales & Marketing Manager: "We've been sponsoring The Beach Haven and Watersports Lake here at the show and its been a fantastic event for us. It has been great to see so many families playing on the beach, enjoying an ice cream. We've met customers old and new. From our perspective its been a really successful show. We've had two areas, here at the beach and over on The Yacht Harbour Association stand and have used the show as the main event to launch our new brands, our commercial brand, our specialist brand and to re-emphasise the Haven Knox-Johnston brand. It has been a great show and definitely thinking about coming next year."

Sunseeker London Group - Chris Head, Sales Director: "The weather has been hit and miss and has affected things, but pleased to say as the week has gone on, with a little bit of sunshine, we've written business, the boats are standing up well, our clients come and see us and they enjoy the day. Southampton is still a very good show for us, in the past it's probably been one of the best shows for signing business worldwide, that's business done on the day. The final three days of the show have been pretty good, clients are positive, but there has been a slow down this year, but seeing a pickup with clients enquiries, so definitely people are positive."

Raymarine - Paul Childs, UK Sales Account Manager: "It's been a really good year for us, the stand has been really busy, despite some terrible weather. We've had lots of dealers on the stand learning about our new products, lots of customers on and people spending money, which is great. It is always a highlight of our year to come to the show and to see lots of customers. We're looking forward to next year already."

GARMIN - Nick Meadow, Sales Manager: "It's been a really good show. There has been good quality customers. I don't think we've had the same amount of volume as last year due to the weather but the people that have been here have been really good. All in all, it's been a really good show and all being well we'll be back next year."

Dream Yachts - Andrew Leroy, Sales Manager for UK and Ireland: "We've had a terrific 10 days at the show. We've been able to talk to lots of new people about charter management and charter. We've had some good sales yacht sales and good charters booked while we've been here. We've had a great time and we'll definitely be back again next year."

Andark - Miriam Goddard, Director: "We've had a really good show, we're right by the main entrance so we get everybody coming through and on their way back. We're really pleased with how it has gone, I can tell that we've sold a lot of items due to the amount of empty hangers we've got. A lot of jackets have gone, especially when we had the windy and rainy days. We've also got our try-a-dive pool here and we've had hundreds of people go through that, so hopefully we'll have lots of new divers come in this year. We're looking forward to coming back next year and hopefully it be another good year."

GJW Direct - Luke Marsh, Marketing Business Partner: "Another busy show for all of us here at GJW Direct, meeting customers both existing and new. Southampton International Boat Show is our flagship event of the year and we are already looking forward exhibiting in 2024!"

HELM - James Foot, Marketing Manager: "We've had a fantastic boat show 2023, it's been a great opportunity, as it always is, to reconnect with our existing clients and get feedback on how their charters have gone this summer and to meet new people, new clients and to get the name out there and get the brand awareness out. We've had a pretty busy year this year and we're looking forward to a really busy winter and start planning for September 2024 and next years' boat show."

Harken - Dave Brown, UK Sales Manager: "We've had a very successful show, as we generally do. A very good level of engagement this week, we've seen lots of numbers on the stand, we've not got the final number yet, but it does look like we've had a better year than normal. Our level of engagement here is to talk to people either about the products they own or product they want to look after, but also new product ideas and how they can change their boat and ways they can move forward. We've had a really successful show, it's been a great week, always glad to be here and support the show and looking forward to being here next year."

Premier Marinas - Andy Lewis, Head of Marketing: "We've had a fantastic show yet again this year. The weather has been a bit challenging at times for us but it is a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with our customers at the end of the season and meet potentially new customers for next year. Despite the challenging weather it hasn't put people off. We have a facility here where we can entertain people, rain or shine. People are still looking, buying boats, visiting the stand and we'll be back next year for sure."

Arksen - James Harris, Sales Manager for Adventure Series: "It has been a really great week for us, averaging two or three really strong leads everyday which is fantastic. Its our second show and our first with SE Yachts, our UK dealer, and we're looking forward to coming back next year."

Suzuki Marine - Mark Riley, Head of ATV & Marine: "We've had a fantastic week here at the show, it has not been spoilt by the weather, despite the weather having been pretty atrocious. We've still had the visitors, we've sold lots of engines at the show, actually an amazing number of engines. The show goes from strength to strength in terms of excitement, there's more to do at the show now and I just think that it's going to be bigger and bigger and we're looking forward to coming again next year."

Wolfrock - Paul McCarthy, Managing Director: "We've had a good week, considering we've had some bad weather during the week. We've had some good customers; good sales and we look forward to being back next year."

SBS Trailers - Andy Wyer, Sales Director: "This is probably our 30th plus boat show, it has been challenging because of the weather, but footfall has been fantastic, there has been a real buzz about the place and we look forward to being here again next year."

Pantaenius UK Ltd - Simon Hedley, Head of Commercial Partnerships: "Another superbly organised show to enable us to connect with our clients both existing and new. We'll certainly be back in 2024 and would like to thank the British Marine Team for all their hard work in making the show what it is."

Volvo Penta - Jen, Digital Marketing & Communications Specialist: "It's been great here at the Southampton International Boat Show. We've had lots of customers on the stand and it has been great to be able to chat to so many people. Our assisted docking demos on the pontoons have been brilliant, with most sessions being fully booked and we can't wait until next year."

Sussex Marine Watersports Ltd - Paul Richards, Director: "It has been a wonderful show, better than expected. This is our 22nd year at the show and don't want to stop coming. It's always positive and we've already confirmed for next year and we're looking forward to it."

Cruising Association - Lucy Gray, Chief Operating Officer: "The CA has been thrilled at the turnout and visitors to our stand. We extended a welcome to members along with new members who joined our cruising community. The high level of interest in the diverse range of services, expert advice and member benefits offered by the CA has been remarkable, and the enthusiastic audiences attending our talks on the Foredeck Stage stand as testament to that success."

Bucklers Hard Marina - John Selman, Marina Assistant: "We had many quality visitors that kept us busy throughout the 10 days of the show. We had some good feedback regarding the show layout and content. The support from the organisers was perfect in all aspects, the team were very helpful and supportive. Of course we will be back again next year, see you all then. Now it's time to chase up all those leads!!"

Promarine Finance - Stuart Austin, Director: "Most enjoyable show ever, weather did not dampen our spirits. British Marine have been very supportive, thanks."

Ardent Training - Charly Hewett, Chief Instructor: "It was our first time as an exhibitor this year and we'll definitely be back. Thank you for the wonderful hospitality British Marine!"

Boatworld - Nicola Middleton-Groom, Managing Director: "The show this year has been a great success. We've met current customers, new customers and spoken with our trade suppliers. Everyone at the show seems buoyant and looking to learning more about our offering. Looking forward to next year already."

Sunstorm covers - Paul Austin, Director: "The Southampton International Boat Show has been a great show to launch 'Sunstorm Covers'. It has given the brand the presence that was hoped for along the South Coast of the UK. It's also a great place to meet old and new customers along with building new relationships. Sunstorm Covers are looking forward to exhibiting again in 2024."

PowerboatClub.Uk - Noel Hutchinson, Director: "This has been our first year exhibiting at the Southampton International Boat Show and we have been delighted with the results. So many great conversations with potential members. Roll on next year!"

Seafarer - Chris Lorenzo, MD: "Great to see so many new people at the show this year with a big increase in training enquiries. Plus, it's always great to catch up with so many of our regular clients."

Hartley Boats - Mark Hartley, Managing Director: "It's been a fantastic show. We've launched our Wayfarer Weekend here and taken multiple orders for the boats going forward to next year and we look forward to coming back next year."

Topper International - John Manners, Sales Manager: "We've had a really good show at Southampton International Boat Show this year. It's been challenging this year due to the weather, but we've done really well. We've had a good show and taken some very good orders which we were expecting and we're looking forward to coming back next year and seeing everybody again."

Sandbanks Style Paddleboards - Jordan: "I can say that it has again been another very successful show for us despite the terrible weather, but what can you do about that! We've had a really good show and we'll definitely be back again. We've sold at least 50 Paddleboards and Kayaks. It's been a fantastic show."

Drascombe boats - Dick Pizey, Deliveries and Demonstrations: "We are here at the boat show and have been for many years. This show has seen better footfall than expected, despite the weather. We've had a lot of interest in both the classic boats and our smaller adventure boats. Sales are looking promising, and we've enjoyed our time here and we've already booked for next year."

Shore2Sea - Clementina, Founder: "What an amazing show it's been, despite some awful days of weather, it's been so busy. We launched our dry bags in January, and they've just taken off really well, so I'm coming back next year, so hope to see you all again then."

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