Marina Cove show

On the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of December 2017, Club Marina Cove, once again, hosted the Hong Kong International Boat Show. The show has a long history dating back to the 1980s and, with some gaps here and there, has proved its resilience by, this year, attracting 45 exhibitors and (by our estimation) close to 5,000 visitors.

Entry was free and the booths and docks were filled with the knowing and not-so-knowing but, hey, this is Hong Kong and you can never underestimate the buying power of the not-so-knowing. Besides, if you don’t have an understanding and want to learn, a show like the Hong Kong International Boat Show is an ideal place to begin.

There were engine suppliers, awning and clothing manufacturers, brokers, canoe agents, repair technicians, shipyards, electronics experts, you name it they were there. And that was just on shore.

Down on the dock there were craft from 22 to 106 feet in length, some with masts, others with flybridges towering above the finger piers. Names from around the world appeared: Ferretti, Absolute, Azimut, Riva from Italy; Jeanneau, Fountaine Pajot, Beneteau from France; Sealine, Princess, Sunseeker from Britain; Bavaria from Germany; Ruby from Taiwan; Galeon from Poland and Searay from the US.

The biggest boat was the 105-foot Monte Carlo Yacht and, not surprisingly, in the post-show press release much was made of this luxury item, priced at over HK$100 million.

But, as not many seem to realise, recreational craft do not need to be this expensive. They also do not need to be owned by the rich and famous. In Hong Kong, a ‘middle class’ has developed that is looking for quality leisure time and boating offers plenty.

You can learn to sail from scratch at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for around HK$4,000, and likewise at the two other major sailing clubs. You can learn to sail at one of the government watersports centres (Chong Hing, Stanley, St Stephen’s, Tai Mei Tuk, Wong Shek) or you can make the effort and join a crew in one of the Discovery Bay Yacht Club’s event. Just take along a smile and willingness to co-operate and you’ll be invited again. No charge, but a bottle of wine would help!

The point is, marine recreation is so obvious in this coastal city that it is most puzzling why it lacks the status and recognition it deserves, and why it doesn’t receive the generous support from the state that is should.

Perhaps this is about to change with the Volvo Ocean Race reaching our shores. The Mega Events Fund chipped in HK$25 million to create a ‘village’ at the end of the old Kai Tak runway and, by all accounts, this has been a success. Ferry loads of the knowing, not-so-knowing and kids (millions of ‘em) went across and enjoyed a day out, on a lawn, eating ice creams, drawing with crayons and gazing at Volvo cars.

Ah well, maybe some of them took note of the boats tied up at the temporary pontoons, or looked further across the typhoon shelter to the scores of craft anchored in haphazard fashion, in a temporary solution to Hong Kong’s mooring/berths shortage. To be fair, though, there were a number of smaller craft on shore and this is to be commended. But more next time, please.

Back to the Hong Kong International Boat Show 2017. Winnie Ng, general manager of Club Marina Cove, said: “With the rapid expansion of the yacht industry in our region, boating and watersports enthusiasts are on the rise. The Hong Kong boating market is relatively mature, so industry practitioners are looking to expand into China, with the aim of promoting the long-term development of the industry in Asia. We believe our show will help encourage youths to pursue their careers in the fast-growing pleasure craft sector.”

Agreed. Marine recreation also needs a strong support and logistics sector and Marina Cove is making a contribution. See you there in December 2018 for the 24th Hong Kong International Boat Show.

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