Steady as she goes

It was the 15th edition of the region’s largest boat show. Held from Friday, the 29th of April, to Monday, the 2nd of May 2016, the event has established itself admirably given the proliferation of shows and fairs that once beset Hong Kong, and the many attempts that are now plaguing the Mainland nearby.

What’s more, and according to the organiser, the official attendance at the Hong Kong Gold Coast Boat Show 2016 was 10,540! We can back this up because the Fragrant Harbour booth was near the entrance and we were able to estimate footfall by the number of complimentary magazines and balloons handed out!

So there you have it. Finally, Hong Kong has a show that is settled, with a respectable attendance. Sure, it’s nowhere near the size of Fort Lauderdale or Dusseldorf, but Hong Kong is not America or Germany.

That does not mean Gold Coast should rest on its laurels as, even now, there are rumblings within the local marine recreation industry. Some say, more pressure needs to be applied to the organiser on various issues. Like getting better quality people to the show. Hmmm, nothing wrong with those we saw and older hands know that you simply can’t judge a sausage by its skin. Especially not in Hong Kong which has some of the wealthiest poor people on the planet. (Next time you pass a government housing estate count the number of BMWs and Benzies in the car park.)

As for the level of the Hong Kong Gold Coast Boat Show, it is hard to see why anyone would refer to it as ‘tin pot’. Someone did, you know. This was while sitting at the Singapore Yacht Show. Having sold nothing there, he reluctantly took part in the Gold Coast show weeks later and sold three boats. Biggies, too

Incidentally, the last time we were in contact with the organiser, we were told that seven significant marine players had signed up for the 2017 show, and paid. The Hong Kong Gold Coast Boat Show must be doing something right.

There were also a number groups of visitors from the Mainland and around Southeast Asia. Hakan Lange (below) of Derani Yachts in Phuket paid a customary visit and was impressed with what he saw. Others flew in from Europe and the States to see what is happening in marine recreation here in Asia.

There are, of course, and in our opinion, areas which could do with some attention. Greater choice in F&B, more cultural events and displays and a return of ‘pauper’s row’. The last was a feature of earlier shows and was that line of smaller booths near the entrance and between the tennis courts and marina clubhouse. Not everyone sells megayachts and these smaller players, again in our opinion, make a show more inclusive and interesting. We understand that the Fire Department was not happy with the crowding, saying it wouldn’t be able to get its equipment through in an emergency. Fair enough, but surely something can be worked out?

There were also a few grumblings about not enough publicity and price creep, mainly from smaller exhibitors. Okay, but how does the organiser pay for more publicity while not making enough out of the booths? Can’t have it both ways, guys.

And who could say that the cardboard boat race wasn’t worth the entrance fee of HK$20. An ‘educational’ and entertaining event which drew the attention of the crowds, despite the passing shower. Well, at least the rain didn’t affect the paddlers as a fair number ended up in the water anyway — all in the name of charity!

Boats in the water totalled 80 — that’s impressive by any show’s standards. Asia Yachting blew everyone away with 10 boats on display, from 16 to 105 feet. These included Monte Carlo Yachts, Nautique wake boats, Monterey sports boats and Scarab jet boats.

There were also craft on the hard stand — 14 in all with one very cleverly tilted Nautique that allowed all who walked by to see the interior layout.

The big names were all there, like Numarine, Ferretti, Beaufort, Absolute, Azimut, Sunseeker, China Pacific, Northrop & Johnson, Princess and Simpson. But what would a Gold Coast Boat Show be without the regulars, the little guys, like Elekon, Express, On Board, Smooth, A & M, Advantage, Man Lee Tat, Oceanaire, Boat and Boating, Faithful, Wah Hing, Marine Link and Titanic.

So, start planning your display for next year and give support to the region’s premier boat show. Dates are 28th of April to 1st of May 2017. Call 2404 3258 — better be quick as space is not unlimited.

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