London Boat Show

Excel Centre London

10th January 2015

Rubbish weather caused my planned weekend sail to the Medway to be cancelled so plan B kicked in. Plan B was to be a nice River Circuit run in the morning then go to the boat show. We might be hearing more about the River Circuit Run as we are contemplating organising a pursuit half marathon in the autumn. We arrived at the Boat Show just after lunch. Sadly the cable car had closed down due to the high winds. This was reassuring justification for cancelling the sail but a pain in the neck as we had paid for our River Bus tickets to the North Greenwich before realising. We arrived by DLR instead. There was a pleasant crowd making their way in, not too many but not so few that you would feel sorry for the exhibitors. However, it was the first Saturday so a few more people may have been commercially welcome. The show occupied a couple of large halls on one side of the “corridor”. Excel is a soulless place and although probably very practical for exhibitors it is very poorly laid out for visitors. For instance the toilets are down two flights of twisting stairs and around three right angle corners where visitors confront each other head-on at each bend. The other show at Excel was a Cruise Show and there were many elderly visitors making hard headway up the stairs with their sticks.

Entrance to the show via a rain curtain was weird but I suppose it was an attempt to be different. Most people seemed to wonder why it was there. Inside there were boats to the left and gear to the right. Not many yachts but enough to pique your interest. Swallow boats were there and a few other interesting “affordable” small boats. There was a stand with a range of flashy ribs with massive outboards all resplendent with a small flagstaff flying a naff printed Union Flag – enough to put you off the entire range. The big Sunseekers were there too. I enjoy trying to see who has the most brass buttons on their jackets. Rather a poor count this year. Unless I am mistaken there didn't seem to be any boats afloat in the dock which seems a shame.

The gear section is generally the best bit for me but each year it seems to get less interesting, maybe because my little yacht has more than enough gear and nothing has broken recently. The big clothing companies appear to have pulled out, no Henri Lloyd, Musto etc although they were all available to purchase on various chandlers stands. I’m not sure if the organisers have a sense of humour but I liked the fact that Jeckells Sails were next to Hyde Sails. We went into the 4D experience, oh dear what can I say? The Guinness Stand was there as always, thank goodness. I never drink Guinness except at the Boat Show. We met up with friends and caught up with the news. Ned told me that in the early days of the Boat Show at Earls Court apparently there were four pints of Guinness drunk for every visitor. Now considering some people presumably didn't drink any then it is a pretty impressive statistic! Maybe not something we should feel proud of though. I always enjoy my gentle mooch around the show and will probably always go along but it really does need spicing up a bit.

The big question is whether Arthur Beale should take on a stand next year and try to liven the place up. After all, apparently Arthur Beale was partly responsible for setting up the very first London Boat Show, maybe we can perk it up a bit!