Sunday, December 8th, 2019

London hosts first European Boat Show of 2016

Published on February 11, 2016 by   ·   No Comments


The new-year started with a bang, or should that be a splash, at ExCeL centre, with over 90,000 people visiting the London Boat Show.  The first European boat show of the year saw over 400 boats exhibited including the highly anticipated world debut of the Sunseeker 131 Yacht which was the largest ever boat to be globally launched at the Show. Sunseeker 131 Hull One, named Zozo, turned heads on her way up the River, and brought planes to a standstill when the runway at London City Airport was closed to allow her to pass through King George V lock.  Once she reached ExCeL, she was berthed outside the exhibition centre on the dockside and Sunseeker helicoptered prospective buyers into the Show.


The market is clearly picking up as not only is Zozo already sold, Sunseeker also confirmed that they have astonishingly already sold another four hulls.  So, even if you were lucky enough to be helied in for a viewing and you’ve got the cash ready, you still won’t get to sail your own 131 until 2017 at the earliest. Not to be outshone by Sunseeker, Portsmouth-based Princess Yachts also had a couple of debutants of their own at the Show, namely the eagerly-awaited Princess 75 and the all-new S65 which were ‘small’ enough to be exhibited in the hall itself, alongside a Princess V58.

The 24 metre Princess 75 has a modified deep-V hull and a swanky new porthole shape.  The hull has been designed to be extremely efficient, enabling it to get up on plane at lower speeds.  Demand for this yacht has also been high. This upturn in sales doesn’t seem limited to the luxury end of the market, there was a very positive atmosphere throughout the Show with exhibitors reporting lots of interest and, more importantly, actual sales during the ten-day event.

There were 132 boats making their debut at the Show including new models from Hanse, Broom, Jeanneau, Four Winns and Rodman. Out on Royal Victoria Dock, next to the Sunseeker 131, was an array of historic boats including the beautiful 92ft wooden gaff-rigged tall ship Spirit of Falmouth, a replica Mersey Pilot Schooner which was built in Liverpool in 1985; Melissa, a British sailing barge built in 1899 which has been totally refurbished and is now sailing once again on the East Coast Rivers, and a London Fire Brigade vessel launched in 1935 which was in service right through until 1971 and was credited with saving St Paul’s Cathedral from ruin in the Blitz.


This year saw the new ‘Mediterranean Bay’ area, a shallow lagoon where it was possible to try your hand at stand-up-paddleboarding, sit-on-top kayaking, test out a Seabob or intriguingly walk on water in a giant floating hamster wheel. If you fancied trying your hand at sailing without getting wet there was the innovative RS Sailing Simulator – a real sailing dinghy fixed to a stand simulating the lifelike motion of a boat.  A huge electric fan filled the sails and the boat heeled in reaction to the sailor’s weight distribution, as it would in the water.

Absolute genius, any keen sailors would surely want one of these in their garden for when they can’t get out sailing proper.  In fact, to get the full sailing experience, you could ask your wife to throw buckets of water at you at the same time and you’d never need to leave home.


The team at Land Rover BAR went one further doing away with the boat altogether using Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets to allow visitors to ‘experience’ America’s Cup sailing first hand – but back off with your buckets of water, there are electronics involved… There was something for everyone at London and it bodes well for 2016 that the first European boat show of the season was such a roaring success.



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