Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow a Boat 2019 hailed one of the best ever


The sun shone down on Southampton as the Show saw both a rise in attendee numbers and thousands of people out on the water

Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow A Boat 2019 drew to a close yesterday (Sunday 22 September) with organisers, exhibitors, sponsors and visitors all hailing the Show as one of the best ever. The event retains its title as Britain’s biggest and best festival of boating. Showcasing thousands of brands and a record number of debuts, it welcomed over 103,000 attendees across the 10 days, a rise of 5% on the previous year.

The spectacular Show, set against the stunning backdrop of Europe’s largest purpose-build marina, had a buzzing atmosphere, exciting new attractions and a wide range of products and services all on offer. This resulted in strong sales and good business for exhibitors.

The event was opened by Olympic rowing legend and Strictly star, James Cracknell OBE, and TV star, Lucy Mecklenburgh. They were followed by a host of other celebrity names who joined thousands of visitors in getting out on the water during their visit to the Show. The many water-based activities on offer included Try-a-Dive, a purpose-built dive tank, which proved hugely popular with hundreds of visitors alongside favourites such as the Try-a-Boat and Get Afloat attractions.

A new waterfront destination, the Quarterdeck, delivered the ideal viewing point to watch all the on-water action. A waterside dining experience like no other, it welcomed crowds of visitors looking to relax and unwind.

Other personalities spotted at the Show included TV star Millie Mackintosh, Love Island stars, Dr Alex George and Lucie Donlan, Eddie Jordan, award-winning chefs, Paul Ainsworth and James Martin, and Ben Fogle and his beloved dog, Storm.

With over 600 marine brands on display, the Show boasted an impressive 240+ boat and product debuts, the most ever recorded for the event, as well as over 82 new brands for 2019. This included Pearl Yachts, Nautor’s Swan, Gulf Craft, Kayacat, Kingfisher Yacht Ropes, Proboat and York Marina appearing alongside returning favourites. This is a testament to the calibre of this iconic event, which is one of the world’s top boat shows.

With an emphasis of promoting the accessibility and flexibility of boating for everyone, the Show’s Foredeck Stage proved a triumph with its daily talks packed with boating beginners and seasoned professionals alike. All eager to hear insights and top tips from the line-up of expert speakers, including Tom Cunliffe, Max Liberson and Stokey Woodhall, plus many more.

Visitors also flocked to hear the adventures of British sailors, Pip Hare, Conrad Humphreys, Mike Golding, Dee Caffari MBE, Helena Lucas MBE and global sailing social media influencers, SV Delos and Sailing Uma, who also had their boat at the Show for visitors to explore.

The 2019 Show was also the most environmentally friendly Show yet. With the introduction of water refill points around the event and removal of all plastic bottles at catering outlets, the Show is committed to reducing its environmental impact in the long-term. This year also marked the launch of the highly anticipated Exhibitor & Contractor Environmental Charter, which saw companies sign up to reduce their environmental impact at the Show. RS Sailing and Spirit Yachts were crowned the most environmentally friendly exhibitors at the Show as joint winners of the inaugural Environmental Award.

Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, commented: “The 2019 Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow a Boat was an absolutely spectacular Show. We have seen fantastic numbers through the door and out on the water. It has been a very buoyant Boat Show!

“The event has been a resounding success with an exuberant atmosphere across the 10 days and I am delighted to hear reports of strong sales from across a spectrum of exhibitors.

“The Show has once again offered visitors of all ages, from watersports enthusiasts to young beginners, the opportunity to explore the marine world and get out on the water, whether on a paddleboard, kayak, dinghy, sailing yacht or RIB.

“With such an array of boats, products, services and expertise on offer at this year’s Show, it truly has been a celebration of the fun, lifestyle and excitement that can be had on the water. I am very much looking forward to 2020 Show where we will continue to attract thousands to the water and deliver a great day out for all the family.”

Southampton International Boat Show returns next year and will take place between 11-20 September 2020.


Exhibitor quotes:


Kiran Haslam, Chief Marketing Officer at Princess Yachts, added: “The response both from customers and media from the presentation of five new Princess product launches was truly exceptional, so we are really pleased with this year’s edition of the Boat Show. In terms of sales, we are delighted to report a very successful Show and certainly the weather this year played a big part in increased visitor numbers. The organisation, safety and security at the Show was incredibly consistent and has improved again this year, so a huge congratulations to the organisers once again – the team behind the scenes are to be commended.”


Matt Ovenden of Borrow A Boat stated: “These 10 days have been a huge success for Borrow A Boat; spreading the message of accessible boating to the crowds who attended with the wonderful weather we had in Southampton. We had two fabulous product launches of our new Borrow A Boat Club and Own A Boat programs, and we’re excited to continue to help more people in the UK audience get out on the water both here and abroad, in the most affordable and flexible way possible!”


Lizzie Mitchell, PR & Marketing Executive at Premier Marinas, remarked: “Premier Marinas has had a fantastic Boat Show. The footfall and number of enquiries has exceeded our expectations. Our new look stand and change of location has received great feedback from our berth holders and visitors – further enhanced by neighbouring with our insurance partners, GJW Direct.”


Iain Smallridge, Managing Director at Pearl Yachts, commented: “It’s the first time we’ve exhibited here for three years and the first time with Berthon, our newly appointed dealers for the UK, it’s been great to be back and we have seen many of our UK and overseas customers. We’ve had an exceptional reception from all our visitors, seeing our new range of yachts and it’s been a very busy Show for us. We’re delighted with the footfall and the leads we’ve secured. We’ve recorded more quality leads here than at any other event over the last couple of years, whether that’s a result of the UK market or the new range of Pearl yachts. We’re very pleased with the results and as a British brand we certainly want to exhibit at Britain’s biggest and best Boat Show and I’m sure we will be here next year as the UK is an important market for us.”


Becky Addison at Sailing Holidays added: “This year’s Show has surpassed expectations! From a sales perspective, this has been our most successful Show in four years. From a footfall perspective, we have seen and spoken to a really high calibre of sailors, all of which have been very positive about the Show itself!”


Sean Robertson, Sales Director at Sunseeker International, commented: “It has been a very successful Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow A Boat for Sunseeker. We were especially delighted to debut the eagerly anticipated Predator 60 EVO which has received a huge amount of interest and forward orders. It has been a real pleasure to welcome so many visitors and special guests to the stand. Southampton, together with Cannes and Genoa Boat Shows have returned outstanding results, with retail sales in excess of £55 million. It is fantastic to see an ever increasing international client presence, with orders taken at the European shows.


“At this year’s Show, Sunseeker announced an exciting product development plan which will see the range double in size to 22 models over the next three years; including the reintroduction of the Superhawk range. The plan also focuses on further developing the framework for the business and driving the Sunseeker brand forward to even greater success, aided by a £60million CAPEX investment across five years. Overall a strong start to the autumn Boat Show season.”


Nigel Stuart, Managing Director at Spirit Yachts, added: “Spirit Yachts has once again had a successful year at Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow A Boat and it’s been a pleasure to welcome everyone onboard the new Spirit 50CR (cruiser racer).  The Show provides the ideal opportunity to engage with potential customers and we have seen significant positive interest in our cruiser racer design. We were delighted to win the Show’s first ever Environment Award and it’s been encouraging to see the event taking constructive steps towards lowering its carbon footprint.”


Peter Thomas, Managing Director at Cornish Crabbers, added: “Cornish Crabbers have had a fabulous time at Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow A Boat. Great weather mixed with great attendance have opened up a long list of new enquiries and rekindled some old ones. Orders were as expected with potential for plenty more as and when the political climate improves. Thanks to British Marine and Borrow a Boat. See you next year.”


Roger McCarthy of MCC Marine remarked: “Given the well publicised investment caution, as a result of the political and economic uncertainty, both here in the UK and in Europe we have been very satisfied with the level of enquiries and the order intake for both our Sur Marine and Nord Star products, at this year’s Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow A Boat. Our congratulations to the organisers and their suppliers for a well managed event


Kate Staniforth, Senior UK Marketing Manager for Sunsail and The Moorings, commented: “This year’s Boat Show has been really positive and all our Holiday Planners are looking forward to making sure that visitors who have booked holidays at the Show or who are planning to make bookings have a fantastic time with us whether chartering bareboat in the Mediterranean with Sunsail or relaxing on a skippered holiday in Grenada with The Moorings. We were really thrilled Sunsail and The Moorings came third in the Exhibitor Environmental Award. We are a passionate team who have a heritage of crafting the best sailing holidays in the world’s top sailing grounds for decades, therefore we want to ensure we’re looking after beautiful destinations, oceans, wildlife and communities, and minimising our footprint.”


Aimee Neale of Maritime and Coastguard Agency remarked: “Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow A Boat has been a really cracking show for HM Coastguard. This year we went big with our stand and introduced some new interactive elements including our Coastguard rescue vehicle complete with all its rescue gear and flashing lights, a water tank demonstrating some of our counter pollution work and a new VR film, produced in partnership with our friends at the RNLI and RYA showing a rescue from start to finish and promoting the RYA SafeTrx safety app.”


Mathew Hornsby, Sales Director at Williams Jet Tenders, commented: “It was another positive Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow A Boat for us. We were delighted to be presented with the Sunseeker International Entrepreneur of the Year Award in honour of Robert Braithwaite, something we are all hugely proud of. We had tenders on display from across our range – both on our stand and on numerous yachts throughout the show – and it gave us a great opportunity to meet with many of our long-standing customers and potential new owners. It certainly always helps when the weather is kind too!”


Richard Pierpoint, Founder and Managing Director of FlexiSail, said: “Southampton International Boat Show, powered by Borrow A Boat 2019 was interestingly different this year.  We felt that the quality of visitors was better than previous years and was more evenly spread across the whole Show. The net result is that we have done good business during the Show with new Jeanneau yacht purchases and memberships which fully justifies our presence at the show. We look forward to next year when we will be considering an even bigger presence at the Show.”