Home' Afloat : AFLOAT May 2017 Contents 52 AFLOAT.com.au May 2017
ON THE WATER
with David Lockwood
Asone who works and plays hard in the online world, I could
have very easily take the view that boat shows are dead.
After all, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR),
that super imposed imagery on your real world, are the future
we’re told. And aren’t we all glued to our mobile phones anyway?
Of course, one can tour boats from the comfort of our living
room via a small screen and/or set of goggles. Having tested
the VR products, I must say they are more immersive than a
2D image. However, they create an intangible and forgettable
experience once the headset is removed.
VR will probably become a bigger thing for tomorrow’s boat
dealers with virtual showrooms. Rather than have stock on the
floor, you can don headsets and take a tour. Augmented reality
might let you do this with the water as the background.
Video is, of course, the buzz today and it’s only going to get
bigger. Everyone can create and share a video of a boat and their
boating experience. If you can’t make it to a boat show, you can
visit virtually and vicariously via your mate’s video or a live feed.
Nah, there’s no substitute for a boat show.
This fact was reinforced at the Gold Coast International Boat
Show at the Marine Precinct in Coomera in March. Formerly
known as the Marine Expo, it clashed with Sanctuary Cove Boat
Show and created a lot of industry angst and public backlash.
The Boating Industry Association got involved, new March
dates were announced, and the show opened its doors as a
terrific hands-on boating event. You didn’t need to don goggles
or enter virtual worlds to see the boats and the latest marine
wares. More than 3km of display space let your feet lead the way.
Being a marine precinct meant there was a pile of gear from
shipwrights, electronics and equipment companies. I came home
with a stack of filters, a new pro-biotic toilet treatment (I am a
sucker), some spares from Riviera, just escaped from buying a
pair of boat shoes, and would love to own a Wavebreak 20 (Couta
Boat) built by shipwright Troy Dibben. Putt-putt away.
Of course, the feet of timber boat aficionados have barely
hit the ground following the biennial Australian Wooden Boat
Festival back in February in Hobart. More than 500 boats created
a full-capacity event in Hobart showcasing the beauty and charm
of timber boats and their artisans. I ’ll never forget my voyage on
the Olive May around Dover. That early fishing boat was built in
1880 and still charters today.
This month from 25-28 May, a very different boat show
opens its doors back on the Gold Coast. The Sanctuary Cove
International Boat Show (SCIBS) is a shrine to luxury living on the
water and along its shores via the residential village and resort.
Big white motoryachts and catamarans grace the marina, there’s
a superyacht pavilion, luxury car displays, as helicopters buzz
overhead, and the restaurants do a roaring trade in chardonnay
and salmon, Darlink.
Of course, boat shows aren’t what they used to be, but
neither is the marine industry. In June 2007, I wrote a telling
report on the booming Sanctuary Cove Boat Show as it stood
then, moments before the Global Financial Crisis. The show had
record attendance, record on-water display space, record new
launches, record sales and sails, and plenty of beautiful sunshine
for the hordes of prospective boat buyers.
Just a day after the doors closed, organisers were claiming
SCIBS created $150 million in sales from among the 53,156 visitors,
up 7.04 per cent on 2006, and setting a new record (though still
some 20,000 shy of the Sydney International Boat Show).
There were marine groups and representatives from 15
different countries and every second handshake was with a Vice
President from an American production-boat company. To which
you can add 210 international and Australian accredited media
back when there was such a thing.
On the marina, 421 boats graced more than four kilometres
of gangway, making the 2007 Sanctuary Cove boat show the
biggest on-water display in the Asia Pacific region. A further
402 trailerboats and personal watercraft were parked on the
dry, along with oodles of electronics (another buzz with boaties)
All told, there were 26 world and 57 local new-boat releases.
Riviera claimed confirmed contracts for 30 boats and total
boat-show sales amounting to $34.4 million. The UK Sunseeker
exhibition was said to be worth a cool $25 million. It was just
nuts with so much money sloshing about.
A decade later, Sanctuary Cove Boat Show is regaining
its mojo, while the Melbourne Boat Show in June is a mainly
trailerboat fishing and towsports retail event for the local
fraternity, and the Adelaide Boat Show in early July hopes to
grow with Boating Industry Association backing down there.
But it’s the 50th Sydney International Boat Show in August
that has the big brands, big business and boating industry excited
again. The Sydney show is truly international and returns to the
rebuilt Darling Harbour Exhibition Centre. It’s going to be huge
with more boats than we’ve seen in, well, a decade.
For some, boat shows are all about selling and making money,
but I’d like to think they are more than that. Boat shows justify
our costly passion and seed tomorrow’s participants. While new
boats excite me, and there’s all that gear for sale, it’s the families
with kids keen to get aboard that are the future. VR goggles not
needed. Just add water. Boat shows still rock. h
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