September 24th, 2008 · No Comments
It was Southampton, it was sunny and as we’re clearing up after another great 10 days, we take a look back at the highlights.
The weather forecasts the week before the show did not look promising. The words ‘downpour’, ’showers’ and ‘gusting’ seemed to feature heavily and it was looking like being a long and lonely 10 days stuck in a marquee.
In actual fact, apart from a brief spell of heavy rain on Friday and a few chilly afternoons, the weather was pretty much perfect will light breezes and glorious sunshine.
The Gates Open:
Another gloomy forecast was the projected visitor figures with talk of deserted pontoons and tumbleweed blowing past the stands (whilst Clint Eastwood asked people not to make fun of his donkey…..)
Yes, figures were down on last year but no where near as much as expected, and three days were actually busier.
The majority of the missing footfall seemed to come from the family/non-boating sector and, as a result, some areas of the market didn’t appear to suffer too badly. Others though, including the sportsboat/RIB sector did seem to have a lack of trade.
A Cast of Thousands:
There are always characters that stand out at the show. From visitors that don’t like boats but came for a day out anyway to worldwide explorers that live, breathe and sleep the sea.
I met one of the latter in the form of Tom McNalley who is preparing for an Atlantic crossing in a 3ft 10inch boat.
He has undertaken the same voyage in several boats, getting progressively smaller each time, and must have finally reached his limit this time with a craft smaller than a pub bench (you could almost take it as cabin luggage on Easyjet).
When asked about his food supply he explained that he can only carry enough food for a week or so and survives the rest of the journey catching and eating raw fish (as he has no cooker).
I didn’t want to ask about the heads arrangements…
Get Out the Greasepaint:
For the first time, Southampton Boat Show had a proper main stage.
It happened to be just opposite our stand and the music during the day gave a definite ‘festival’ feel to the show.
As well as retro fashion shows, the stage hosted maritime celebraties, medal winning atheletes and the Miss Boat Show competition.
The main stage was next to another new edition, the Platinum Pavillion which housed the Platinum Lounge, a luxury area for those wanting that little bit extra from the show.
The pavillion also contained the ‘Lifestyle’ area with beauty treatments and suchlike that seemed (from my, somewhat Neanderthal, armpit scratching, ale drinking, point of view) to be slightly out of place at a show where most visitors get excited about engines, oil, sailcloth and seaweed. Well, whatever floats your boat I suppose…
The bars, a recurring subject in our blogs, were popular as usual. The Guinness Bar was tucked away at the back of Solent Park but still harboured a large crowd daily, around watering time.
The Crew Bar proved the most popular and was near impossible to get into around lunchtime.
The infamous Fizz @ Five had it’s fair share of crowds as they tried to beat last years record of 1,200 bottles of bubbly in 10 days.
To reduce our carbon footprint and save on transport costs, even the Blue Sheets stand was well stocked with beer and wine as well as soft drinks for any passing exhibitors.
This proved rather more enticing than we thought and frequent re-supplies were needed…
As the show drew to a close on Sunday, we reflected on a very successful 10 days. The new edition of Blue Sheets, which now includes our full UK listings, was very well received, the weather was a stroke of luck and helped the visitor figures no end, and the marine industry as a whole doesn’t appear to have fallen to it’s knees and rolled over contrary to some opinions.
All in all, a cautious but fairly optimistic pointer for the season ahead.
Tags: Southampton Boat Show 2008
Business Boating, our first show of the year was, as always, a mad rush to get ready for.
The backdrops arrived last Friday and the printed material arrived yesterday afternoon, in the nick of time.
We’ve joined forces with Sailing Networks for the show to launch our new ‘Blue Sheets 2.0′ online directory so at least the organisation was shared.
The doors opened on day one this morning and after a few technical hitches (3 laptops, no power) we got underway.
A shortfall in the footfall didn’t stop us taking the opportunity to go and chat to other standholders and we ended up having a very productive day.
The odd thing with a two day show, for those of us used to the ten day extravaganzas, is that you’ve no sooner got over the first day and it’s the last day.
Beautiful weather down here in Bournemouth though….
Last week, everything was going well with our stand plan for Earls Court. The designs were finished, the staff were booked and the materials for construction were ordered when we received news that we had been given a larger, more prominant stand downstairs in a busy area.
Great we thought…. but soon the reality kicked in that, because the new stand was double aspect, we would need to completely redesign the space from scratch, re-order the graphics and materials and build the stand in less than ten days.
It was a tall order and we realised that there was no way to complete all of this in time for the show to end up with a professional looking stand. As such we had to take the difficult decision to pull out of the show all together.
We we’re hugely disappointed not to be able to exhibit at the show as I know it’s going to be one of the highlights of the marine Christmas calendar. It was also going to be our platform to launch the new Blue Sheets 2.0 database with Sailing Networks.
We will still be visiting however and giving our full support to the show and all the people who’ve put so much work into launching a brand new venture in under a year.
I can guarantee that we’ll have a presence there next year.
Tags: Earls Court Boat Show 2007
No matter how often we promise to be ready months before the next boat show, it never happens. There is always the mad rush a few weeks beforehand to get everything ready or, in this case, designed and built.
Yep, with only a couple of weeks to go until the Earls Court Boat Show, we’re still designing the stand……
We’ve then got to get all of the graphics and vinyls printed…
Then build it….
And then pack it up, hope it survives the journey to Earls Court and fight with the other contractors to put it up.
….All in two weeks.
Oh, and to add to the workload, we’ve joined forces with Sailing Networks to create ‘Blue Sheets 2.0′ our new fully featured database that we’ll be launching at the show.
This requires a whole new interface and operating system along with transferring many thousands of records.
No rest for the wicked, eh?
Tags: Earls Court Boat Show 2007
With a rapidly changing forecast, we headed down to Watergate Bay, Cornwall to watch our race team compete in the final weekend of the Zapcat UK championship.
Sunshine quickly gave way to cloud and mist with a warm wind and heavy surf that made the onshore races even more challenging than usual.
After an entertaining evening at The Phoenix in Watergate Bay, most teams got an early night to prepare for the day ahead.
The surf on Friday didn’t disappoint with 7-8ft peaks and clean breaks which made the outbound leg of the course difficult to push through. Great for the spectators but painful for the teams, a few injuries were quickly dealt with, including one trip on a backboard to the local A&E.
A big night ensued as the racers eased their aches and pains before retiring and contemplating the final heats on Saturday.
Saturday made Fridays racing look flat calm. Bigger, more unpredictable wave sets led to many restarts and the racing program was cut short to allow all divisions their chance.
A quick final race revealed the overall winners and everyone headed back to their rooms to get ready for the grand award dinner at the Watergate Bay Hotel.
A wild evening ensued and, bolstered by the England rugby victory, many people partied till the morning. A slow start was the order of the day on Sunday with teams making the long journey back home to ponder over their performance or revel in their victories.
A great time was had by all and I can’t wait for the next season to start. Many thanks to everyone at Zapcat and to all the teams that made this years racing so exhilarating.
Tags: Everyday · News
Everywhere I look these days, from website builders and design agencies to fast food outlets and mechanics, there seems to be a rash of evangelical American catch-phrases used in thier advertising. From ‘thinking outside the box’ to ‘monetize’ and dynamisism’.
If you have a question, rather than speaking to a person that can actually help, you have to now call one of the dynamic assistance team members who can appraise your current situation and, looking forward, can create a bespoke assessment for you to maximise the helpification corresponding to your requirement needs.
And you just wanted a quote for a few flyers to be printed??….
Why do we have to be bombarded with piles of these nonsensical sound bites when all we need is the answer to a simple question…does your product fulfill my expectations?
At Blue Sheets we don’t have ‘thought showers’ or ‘brain stews’ we get on with the job in hand of looking after our clients and visitors throughout the year (not just when the next cheque is due).
This doesn’t mean that we’re not inventive, it just means that we don’t dress it up in an overpriced outfit hoping to ream the extra 10% from any client willing to pay it.
If you are considering advertising, read between the lines and see what the guy in the cheap suit is really offering before handing over the cash.
As a well known Slough business manager once said, “Be the first vapour trail in the blue sky scenario”…..
I don’t know how that helps, but it always makes me smile.
Tags: Late Night Laments
September 30th, 2007 · No Comments
Southampton showcased a lot of new yachts this year with higher specifications, promises of racing pedigree and more electronics than I could fit in my house, but the one worrying aspect was the fashion trend occuring below decks.
It’s just my personal opinion but I like the inside of a yacht to look like just that, the inside of a yacht…
I like oak and teak, fiddle rails and finger holes, gimbles and parrafin heaters. The obligatory wine rack in the fold out table and reading lamps.
What I don’t want to find inside my new purchase is a trendy Chelsea loft apartment, complete with neo-70’s decor and features that are mostly useless in anything other than a Mediterranean marina.
Built in cookers without gimbles, bookshelves with no form of restraining bars, bands or rails. Suede seat covers that will ruin at the first sign of a wet oilskin and odd, angular Ikea-esque furniture and fittings that are just waiting to injure you at the first sign of a swell.
How can these boats sell themselves as ‘racing’ yachts (and many were pushing this aspect) when the harsh reality is that the first wash from the cowes ferry will have half the cupboards emtying over the galley floor?
We were brought up on a Westerly Fulmar. A yacht that could be hosed down, inside and out. I’ve made the tea, with my feet on the cupboard doors and the leeward windows underwater as we heeled over, crossing the channel in a gale.
I threw up in the sink on that occasion, but at least I could hose it out and not worry about the Corian worktop.
I know that it’s a case of ‘different strokes for diffent folks’ but I believe that, if you’re buying a yacht, then you’re buying a yacht - not a Park Lane penthouse suite.
If you buy some of the trendy new yachts, they may look great at the show or in the brochures but the realities are that you’ll never keep the deck carpets dry…..mildew WILL appear on every bit of headlining and you’ll never use the galley outside the marina.
Wouldn’t a caravan at Rockley be better?….
Tags: Late Night Laments · Uncategorized