Keeping the yachting world afloat

ALL ABOARD Thousands of people are expected to attend this weekend's PSP Southampton Boat Show
ALL ABOARD Thousands of people are expected to attend this weekend's PSP Southampton Boat Show

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Go along to the PSP Southampton Boat Show from this weekend and you will be able to stand ankle-deep in the opulent carpet of a £6m super yacht.

You will be surrounded by slim and scantily clad promo girls who, if anything, are being made to look more attractive by the boats on display, rather than the other way around.

ON DISPLAY Almost 1,000 boats ranging from kayaks to multimillion pound yachts will be on show

ON DISPLAY Almost 1,000 boats ranging from kayaks to multimillion pound yachts will be on show

And you will watch as people, Coutts chequebook in hand, put deposits down on the latest must-have yachting toys.

Oh, how the other half live.

But, importantly, for every rich entrepreneur who buys a yacht at the boat show, there are hundreds of other people whose livelihoods rely on them.

There are the firms that build the boats, those who maintain the boats, and those who will sell them on when they’re no longer required.

There are firms, like Segensworth’s Raymarine, which build the gadgets to ensure one doesn’t get lost on the way to St Tropez.

And there are the firms that precision engineer the components, that make the moulds for the hulls, that sell vital safety equipment and which transport the boats from place to place all around the world.

One of those firms is PSP, also based in Segensworth, which has been the title sponsor for the Southampton Boat Show for the past five years.

The firm’s Frank Dixie says having events such as the Southampton Boat show is absolutely vital for shoring up the leisure marine industry.

He said: ‘It’s important to continue to hold boat shows for two reasons. First of all, they are a stimulant for the south’s booming marine economy and provide a unique opportunity for vendors to sell their wares face to face with customers.

‘Secondly, and what excites us most, is that they bring the joy of sailing and boating to a whole new audience.

‘The Olympics have brought the sport of sailing to the forefront of the public eye once again and I hope that this, coupled with this year’s PSP Southampton Boat Show, will inspire even more people to get out on the water.’

Frank added that the reason for his firm’s continued sponsorship was not just about getting his firm’s name out there.

He said: ‘We are fiercely loyal to the marine industry and are keen to support it in any way we can.

‘Our sponsorship of the PSP Southampton Boat Show is just one of the ways we can do that.’

The UK leisure marine sector is worth £2.9bn to the economy, with the south contributing 61 per cent of it.

And of that 61 per cent, the south east contributes 31 per cent, and the south-west is responsible for the remaining 30 per cent.

Richard Bowtell, marine sector leading industry specialist at Grant Thornton financial advisors, said: ‘Looking at these statistics it’s clear to see that the local area accounts for a huge portion of the UK’s leisure marine industry.

‘Events such as The PSP Southampton Boat Show and the Seawork International exhibition boost this even further, proving that despite difficult trading conditions the south retains is title as the heart of the UK leisure marine industry.’

And that success is shown by the first free-to-attend boat show being held in Portsmouth this year.

The Powerboat and RIB show took place at Gunwharf Quays.

Its organiser Hugo Montgomery-Swan said: ‘The companies that are succeeding despite the recession are those that are professional, creative and energetic in terms of marketing themselves.

‘Those who display a high quality of customer care are also faring much better and it’s no longer a case of just waiting for customers to turn up.’

The PSP Southampton Boat Show takes place from Friday, September 14 until Sunday, September 23, with Thursday, September 20 being the show’s ladies’ day, hosted by Olympic canoeist Lizzy Neave.

Tickets for the first day, which is the public preview day, cost £21 in advance and £25 on the day. For all other days it is £16 in advance or £21 on the gate.

To find out more, see, Gosport

Neil Chapman set up in Gosport as an online franchise business selling second-hand craft and it now has more than 50 brokerage locations across the world.

Neil, who runs the business with his wife Mandy, said attending the Southampton Boat Show was the best way of seeing his customers face to face, which in turn is best for his business.

He said: ‘We’ve been going to the show for the past six years and see it as absolutely vital.’

Mr Chapman says the market in second-hand boat sales is growing, and he needs to attend events like the boat show in order to take advantage of that.

And this year his firm, like many others, will be using the event to launch a charity partnership.

He said: ‘We’re launching Sail For Cancer, which aims to encourage people to donate their unwanted boats to charity, which can then sell them and raise money for research into cancer.

‘We’re also, with the British Marine Federation, going to be having ambassadors on board a double-decker bus, encouraging people to try new things on the water.

‘It could be sailors who’ve never tried canoeing, for example, or members of families dragged along to the boat show who might then find something they want to do.’

Sunsail, Port Solent

The world’s largest yacht charter firm Sunsail, which is also a yacht broker, has been on of the exhibitors at the PSP Southampton Boat Show for the past 20 years or more.

It will this year again be amongst the exhibitors during the boat show fortnight, both within one of the pavilions and on the marina itself.

The firm’s Paul Baker said: ‘Two years ago we had our best year ever, selling 18 boats at the show.

‘Last year was a little bit different, but so far this year our sales have been doing quite well so we’re hoping the boat show will be too.

‘This year we’re actually taking one of our catamarans with us, too.’

Mr Baker said in one way the leisure marine sector is largely recession proof.

He said: ‘If people want to buy a boat, they will just buy a boat. There’s a market still out there and that’s why we’ll be going to the boat show: if they don’t buy from us, they’ll buy from someone else.’

Sunsail’s UK operation is based at the Port House in Port Solent.