This year’s 47th Sydney International Boat Show was another resounding success, with thousands of people descending on Darling Harbour and Glebe Island over five days for an annual fix of all that the boating life has to offer.
Currently on my travels on the other side of the world, I was unable to attend but keen to learn more about this show and what makes it such an important event for outdoors enthusiasts and exhibitors alike.
My good friend, David Ingram, kindly agreed to head down in my place.
David is a successful entrepreneur based in Sydney and a fellow British expat with a real passion for all things boating-related. Who better to go in my place and try to explain why a show like Sydney’s is worth heading to.
Here’s his take on the event.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly a marina jammed full of the latest boat craft can spring up in the heart of a cosmopolitan, bustling city for this one event. Although relatively small by international standards, the show makes for an impressive sight smack bang in the middle of Sydney.
The sunny weather brought the crowds out and literally thousands of people turned out for the event.
Under a perfect blue sky, you can’t help but wonder if the pontoons might be compromised with the sheer weight of people walking on them – I’ve seen this almost happen at several UK boat shows! – but this marina was far from overwhelmed and the crowds safely navigated the many stands and exhibitions.
We were met by the staff at d’Albora Marinas who know a thing or two about building marinas and who put on an excellent stand at this year’s show with fun photos being taken and plenty of helpful information for interested parties.
It’s not the first time we’ve been pleased to see d'Albora. If you sail along the east coast of Australia, you’ll recognise their sign as a welcome site at the end of most long passages, always be assured of great facilities ashore, as well as a secure place to stay the night.
Boat shows are great places for dreamers and most of us are simply content to wander the pontoons, as we imagine sailing away on the weekend.
One stand that never fails to impress is the Sunseeker stand. Made famous by the James Bond movies and a string of famous owners, the powerboat brand from Poole in England continues to provide the ultimate in pin-up luxury performance boats.
Further round the dock, we started to see some real sailing boats. Although largely dominated by French, German and US production boats, at least they’re more about being out on the water than just being seen on the dock.
For those unfamiliar with boat design trends, what you should know is that the influence of powerboat design is steadily creeping into the sailing production boat market, evident in the ‘apartment style’ of the Beneteau Senses and Oceanis range – both a far cry from the style of traditional sailing boats.
The prettiest boat at the show, for my money, was the Tofinou.
It’s a great looking boat for Sydney Harbour twilight sailing but only if you have deep pockets to match! The Solaris 42 provided a blend of good looks, promising performance and cruising comforts at a price.
For something more affordable, the Barvaria Vision 42 and 46 design was a standout at the show… now where did I put that lottery ticket?
If I had to sum up my experience at the Sydney Boat Show, I’d say that this is a great annual event for both the experienced enthusiast and those new to boating.
There was an exciting buzz about the show grounds and no end to the stands, stalls and exhibitions on offer.
That said, I’m still surprised that more people at the show aren’t buying boats given that we have some of the best sailing and boating on our doorstep.
While it is more expensive here than in Europe and boat prices aren’t helped by tax and import duties imposed by the government, my advice is to consider charters, boat shares and other ways if you are keen to get on the water for less.
You can also see the boats at d'Albora Marina's The Spit near Mosman for a close encounter of the boating kind.
The best way to see Sydney from the water is to head down to your local sailing club and offer to crew for a twilight sail.
And it’ll probably only cost you a beer or two.