2014 London Boat Show: At The End Of The Day


I’ve visited many London boat shows over the last 20 years, so much that it pains me to think that the first one I attended was actually twenty-two years ago, and I was 11. Back then I had little concept of buying power and no awareness of just how minuscule my chances were of ever owning one of the almighty fibreglass behemoths I’d spend all day trampling over.

Nowadays I view these events through more realistic, world-weary, disappointment-ready eyes. That’s not to say there isn’t still fun to be had in gawping slack-jawed at multi-million quid big boy’s bath toys.

To round off the coverage which today’s Motorboat Monday has brought you, here’s my 2014 London Boatshow Experience overview.


One thing that quickly became apparent was that wearing a press ID badge does you absolutely no favours when you turn up on the last day, a Sunday, at an event like this. I couldn’t make it on press day, when the manufacturer stands would have been empty of the general public and the teams of hyperactive children they insist on bringing with them. As a result, the big displays with all the shiniest, most expensive exhibits were all but clogged at all hours.


Mind you, had I been able to attend on press day I wouldn’t have held much status, either. I wouldn’t have been able to swagger onto yachts like the guys from Motor Boat and Yachting or the Financial Times, or even those ridiculous “mens” magazines like Nuts and Zoo. “I’m from Hooniverse, who are based thousands of miles away and generally feature old cars found on the street with pools of oil under them. But some of us like boats, too”

This line wins you no status whatsoever.

That said, the pretty but camera-shy girls (wo)manning the booths were generally very tolerant and polite. Upon finding that you’re there to report rather than to buy they’ll invariably wave you onto the boats with a dismissive gesture rather than waste their time talking to you. This is fine.


Another issue I suffered, and which you may / will have noticed too, is that indoor boat-shows are absolute menaces from a photographic standpoint. Direct spotlighting and ghost-white glassfibre send your exposure and aperture settings right to hell. Reviewing my shots when I got home revealed I’d be running at least an 80% rejection rate, and the remainder aren’t too hot either. Sorry about that.

I’ve already commented on the general quality of the brochures on offer from the bigger boatbuilders, which is formidable, but I’m now very worried that they reveal me as far punier at age 32 than I was as an 11 year old. I used to run from stand to stand grabbing brochures with impunity and pissing the salespeople right off, and would invariably arrive home with several hundredweight of literature to throw away pore over later. Good times. Lugging that Princess brochure collection around today for just a few hours made my shoulders really wish that I liked jetskis instead.


I guess my high point would be seeing how British firms like Sunseeker still remain in high esteem as part of the international yachting landscape. From humble beginnings they have accelerated away as a go-to brand for top-notch, no-expense-barred fast motor-yachts.


I never made it aboard the biggest yachts on the Sunseeker stand; the throngs of eager viewers were so heavily compacted onto the stand that I feared I might go all murderous if I got trapped amidst them. But I did stand close enough to these plastic ‘n glass wonders to feel the cool of their shadows and revel in their intimidating grandeur. I also refrained from collecting a brochure; I really couldn’t be bothered to carry any more weight.

Finally, I was pleased to see that the innate snobbishness of the show has survived, which is slightly reassuring. Frankly, with grey hairs becoming ever more evident in my mane the fact that I felt just as much of a nuisance, just as out-of-place on these ultra-posh stands and just as much of a fraud when posing as a potential customer and asking “relevant” questions about each of the boats, as I did when I was eleven, is a strangely welcome phenomenon.

[Images: Copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Chris Haining]

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