A few weeks ago I snuck off early from work...

A few weeks ago I snuck off early from work to spend a couple of hours at a new exhibition taking place at ExCeL in the Docklands. It was a revelation. The sun was shining, the crowds were smiling and even the exhibitors seemed to be having a good time. There were professional wakeboarders giving dockside displays, floating hospitality barges handing out free drinks and all manner of thrilling rides, shows and even ice lollies for visitors to enjoy at no extra cost. The party atmosphere stretched all the way from the adrenaline packed rides on the waterfront to the static displays in the halls and at £8 a ticket, it seemed money well spent. What was this remarkable new event? None other than the born again British International Motor Show.
Compare this to our own London Boat Show, also staged at ExCeL but in January, where visitors traipse from stand to stand wondering if they’ll be allowed to step on board the boats they’ve paid 50% more to see and only occasionally nipping outside for a glimpse at the pontoons before being forced back in by the gloomy Winter chill. It’s a wonder anybody comes at all.
The message is simple. There’s nothing wrong with ExCeL as a venue. It’s the timing and the lack of entertainment that’s the problem. Thankfully, these criticisms cannot be levelled at the imminent Southampton boat show, which now eclipses London as the British boat show of choice for exhibitors and visitors alike. There are so many fascinating boats making their debut at the show that we literally ran out of pages in our preview (pg 37-50) to cover them all. You’ll find the overspill on www.mby.com in the next few days. However, the big news is that we will be offering showgoers their first chance to experience the new Volvo IPS joystick in action on board MBY’s Beneteau Flyer 12. Book yourself a slot at the Try-a-Boat stand and decide for yourself whether this really is the future of motorboating. Sceptics and believers welcome!