JUST ADD WATER
There’s no mistaking the arrival of TheYachtMarket.com Southampton Boat Show. As a resident of Southampton, once I see those iconic riggings for the road bridges start to go up, I can’t believe that another year has gone by so quickly. Synonymous to those first Christmas decorations in the shops being the mark of winter, the Boat Show has become for me, a signal to the end of the summer and the start of autumn.
Saying that, we have had some incredibly balmy shows, and by no means do I wish for leaves to start instantly falling from the trees; but the hubbub and atmosphere that it brings to the city is like no other festival throughout the year…apart from, maybe Christmas (excuse the frequent mention of the ‘c’ word).
Celebrating its golden anniversary is quite a feat considering the first show in
1969 attracted just 50 exhibitors, compared to the 500 plus that have signed up this year. The brainchild of Norman Kemish and Arthur Gale, the original show ran for an initial six days and entrance cost just ten shillings (50p) for the first day and three shillings (15p) for the remainder of the week. Contained solely within Mayflower Park, the army, based on the other side of the river at Marchwood Military Port, supplied the small pontoon where just a handful of boats were moored. What it lacked in quantity, it certainly impressed in quality and Yachts and Yachting quite rightly predicted a successful future considering,
Celebrating its 50th year in the city, TheYachtMarket.com Southampton Boat Show’s buzz and excitement arrives from 14 to 23 this month. Elizabeth Kirby
looks back over the past half a century
“over 60 per cent of the British pleasure boat trade is situated within a 25 mile radius of the town.”
From gale force winds in 1983 to Black Wednesday in 1992, The Show has made it through some tough times. But with highs such as Richard Branson displaying his Virgin Atlantic Challenger in 1986, to welcoming royalty in 1993 for the 25th anniversary, and not to mention that £2million Sunseeker Manhattan in 1999; the Southampton Boat Show has continued to keep crowds entertained for half a century.
Last year, The Show introduced its first ever passenger boat giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy a free boat trip on the Solent to take in the impressive view of the Show from a new perspective. And for 2018 it seems the emphasis is again on offering an interactive day out. Try a boat and watersports sessions should encourage even the most devout landlubbers to have a go on the water. While a kayak assault course challenge, Festival Green (the new foodie and live entertainment area), and attractions from the National Oceanography Centre should keep the whole family entertained.
The Show will also mark the 50th anniversary of the first single-handed non-stop circumnavigation of the globe with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhaili on display. Plus, sporting stars and celebrity supporters of the event over the last 50 years will be welcomed and there will be a touch of the late 1960s in the new Guinness Bar and refreshments area. What’s more, any golden couples from Southampton celebrating their 50th anniversary during the Boat Show will gain free entry to the event.
So whether you’re a seasoned boater or a sailing novice there will be plenty of opportunities to dip your toe in and take part in this iconic Southampton tradition.
This year the boat show celebrates its 50th year in Southampton
Get out on the water onboard a rib for a unique perspective of the showground