A good show. OK, not a great show...
But this year’s PSP Southampton Boat Show showed there is life yet in the old dog that is the UK leisure marine industry.
Take a look at the weather. It was, on more than one occasion, horrendous, with almost horizontal rain driven by some pretty harsh gusts.
But when it comes down to it, business was done. OK, it will always be nicer to sell more new boats, but boats were sold. Equipment was sold, clothes were sold (especially waterproofs), and people seem to have come away pretty much satisfied with the business they did.
All of which goes to suggest the UK is, indeed, beginning to find its feet again.
The America’s Cup
I hope you were as astounded as I was to see these 72ft catamarans screaming across San Francisco Bay at 50mph.
And when they started foiling and were soon foiling through the gybes, I wondered where it would all end up.
Has Larry Ellison been successful on changing the America’s Cup away from the Flintstone generation to the Facebook generation?
On the face of it, probably. One of my sisters, who hasn’t commented for years on my sailing exploits, was suddenly calling me and asking all about these boats and what they were doing riding above the water.
Mind you, her interest disappeared as soon as the AC was over. And I hope this isn’t going to be the way the public treats the AC – as a bizarre competition with flying boats, but nothing to do with them.
Then I started wondering what yer average dinghy sailor would be thinking. After all, there is, I’m told, a foil kit for a Laser (sorry, Kirby Torch) already on the market.
What next? The International 14 fleet has always embraced new technology. What about a 5o5 on foils. I’m sure (hope) Mr Westall’s followers would shy away from that.
How about the skiffs? They’re already terrifically quick and foils would take them into the 30+kts range with ease.
But the thought of 50 boats in a championship fleet scrabbling to get round the weather mark at 30kts three feet off the water...
This is the stuff boat damage (and people damage) is made of.
So I called Mark Lee of Craftinsure to see how an insurance man would regard the possibility. He was remarkable sanguine about it all.
“We’re in a risk business,” he told me. “And where there’s a risk, there’s a premium to match.”
I suppose we’ll soon see Henri Lloyd body armour and fancy safety helmets with integral communications systems.
All of which adds more cost to an already costly sport. Being a bit of a Flintstone sailor, I wish Larry Ellison hadn’t bothered, to be honest...
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