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Members of the British Olympic Sailing Team Open the Southampton International Boat Show

by British Marine 11 Sep 08:15 UTC 10 September 2021
The 52nd Southampton International Boat Show opens with the official ribbon cutting by members of the British Olympic Sailing Team fresh from Tokyo 2020 (l-r) Ali Young, Eilidh McIntyre, Stuart Bithell, Dylan Fletcher, Chris Grube, Charlotte Dobson © SIBS

Southampton International Boat Show, Britain's biggest festival of boating, returned today with athletes from the British Sailing Team fresh from Tokyo 2020 opening the show in style!

Situated against the stunning backdrop of Europe’s largest, purpose-built marina, the much-loved show returned to the shores of the Solent after a hiatus, making the biggest splash ever.

Crowds descended in the September sunshine with former Made in Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo spotted taking to the water on a jet ski and being served Champagne from the waterside by professional fly boarder James Prestwood.

The 52nd edition of the show sees the addition of five brand new zones tailored to life in, on and around the water including Watersports, Dinghy, Classic & Day Boat along with On The Water and Festival Green - perfect for relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere.

Opening day visitors were able to explore five brand new zones encouraging everyone to enjoy life in, on and around the water. Newbies and seasoned enthusiasts alike took to the water on kayaks, paddle boards and RIBS and explored exciting interactive features giving them a chance to sample life on the water!

Former Queen of the Jungle Georgia Toffolo shows her adventurous side as she took to the water at Southampton International Boat Show

The new Festival Green hosted live music while guests enjoyed tucking into an array of delicious sea food, cocktails and light refreshments.

As well as getting people out on the water who may not usually have the opportunity, this year’s Show focuses on accessibility helping visitors to dip their toes in the water for the first time, or perhaps develop an existing passion. Whether you’re a watersports enthusiast, boating beginner, or a seasoned pro, there is something for everyone.

CEO of British Marine Lesley Robinson says, “We have seen an incredible turnout for the opening of our 2021 show and we are so excited for people to join us in our brand-new dedicated zones tailored to different sectors of the industry. This year we expect to welcome thousands of people to Mayflower Park and we hope to get 14,000 visitors out on the water.”

Leader of Southampton City Council Daniel Fitzhenry joined President of British Marine, Ian Cooke on a high adrenaline RIB ride while musician and renowned adrenaline seeker Jay Kay (Jamiroquai) was spotted in the crowds.

Guests can enjoy an array of on-the-water experiences, from trying stand-up paddleboarding, to an exhilarating trip on a 7.8m RIB, through to sailing aboard a 37ft yacht. Britain’s biggest festival of boating runs until 19 September and key features of this year’s Show include:

  • Try-a-Boat – come aboard with the opportunity to glide through the waters in a high-speed RIB or float across the Solent under sail
  • Island Scene Mini Cruise – fully equipped with sundecks and bars, the Island Scene is the Show’s very own mini cruise ship
  • Watersports Zone: new for 2021, try a windsurfing simulator for an exhilarating addition to the day, along with paddle boards and kayaks
  • Get Afloat – from dinghy sailing to paddleboarding, try something new or sharpen your existing watersports skills
  • Try-a-Dive – if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to breathe underwater, the Andark Try-a-Dive tank is your opportunity to experience a whole new world
  • Festival Green – relax and unwind with a line-up of amazing music, acts and special appearances. This new zone is the perfect place to unwind with friends
  • Seaside Storytime Ship – Listen to magical stories of water adventures and join readers from Southampton’s libraries

Green initiatives

Building on existing environmental initiatives, the Southampton International Boat Show, has asked exhibitors to commit to an environmental pledge that helped the 2019 show divert over 7.5tons of waste from landfills. This includes a ban on all plastic straws, reduced use of single plastic and the use of e-tickets and QR codes.

British Marine also presented Exhibitor Environmental Awards to joint winners Premier Marinas and Bentley Motors in recognition of going above and beyond to reduce their environmental impact and introduce sustainable working practices.

Boating is stronger than ever

Whilst the pandemic saw a pause of the show, the leisure marine industry is prospering and has benefited from the great British staycation with British Marine's latest boat sales statistics providing strong evidence of this recovery. Sales in the first half of 2021 are a fifth (21%) higher than pre-COVID sales in 2019.

This boom is set to continue with nearly 80% of members of British Marine confident in their business's current prospects, reflecting the strength of this recovery.

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