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Crowds at Southampton Boat Show
Southampton Boat Show
Despite economic tough times, the annual shop window for the marine industry drew thousands of boating professionals and pleasure sailors alike.
During the 10 days the show was open, over 120,000 people visited the site on Southampton's waterfront to see the 700 boats on display and 600 other attractions and trade exhibitors.†
The Solent's marine-based businesses inject £5.5 billion into the local economy each year, but with the chill winds of recession blowing through the economy, questions were being asked about what the economic slowdown would mean for the boat show this year.
Over 700 vessels on display
Managing Director Andrew Williams was still upbeat ahead of the official opening:† "The vibe is fantastic still.† I think it's at a time of economic difficulties that a show like this really comes into its own - both for exhibitors but also for visitors."
"At the top end of the market, they are doing very, very well - people are still buying boats at that end.† There are good stories all throughout the industries, both in terms of buying all sorts of boats, but also buying products to wear on your boat and everything to enjoy the whole experience of boating."
Overall the attendance figure was down 5% on last year's figure.
Team GB sailors at the Boat Show launch
With such a successful Olympic Games in China, it was fitting that the boat show was opened by all the South's Olympic sailing stars.†
Gold medal winners Ben Ainslie, Paul Goodison, Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson, Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson arrived at the show with Mike Golding on his yacht Ecover 3.
To mark 40 years of the boat show, sailing personalities from four decades were on the podium - including Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Dame Ellen MacArthur, Steve Curtis MBE, Lady Pippa Blake and actress Kate O’Mara.
The 40th Southampton Boat Show had everything on offer from sailing clothes and accessories to an £11 million super yacht.
Virtual sailing with the RYA
While the boat show had the multi-million pound craft for the super-rich, there were also popular family attractions and events.
The Try-a-Boat feature gave families†the thrill of being out on the water while the H2O Zone is a family-friendly interactive area to experience popular on-water sports.
Visitors could test their skills at canoeing, kayaking, dinghy sailing, windsurfing and paddle boarding - the latest water sport craze - with the guidance of industry professionals from the British Canoe Union and the Royal Yachting Association.
Dublin based tall ship Jeanie Johnston was moored alongside with visitors able to learn more about the voyages the original Jeanie Johnston would have taken between Ireland and the US during the potato famine.
The Callista, a state-of-the art scientific research vessel, was on loan from the National Oceanography Centre.† It showed the latest scientific equipment in wet and dry laboratories to uncover the mystery of what lies beneath the sea.
last updated: 22/09/2008 at 12:35
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