Anyone harbouring a desire to be the next Ben Ainslie, to buy a multimillion-pound sailing or motor yacht, or simply to mess about on the water in a dinghy should head to the PSP Southampton Boat Show between September 14 and 23. Up to 1,000 boats will be exhibited at Britain’s original on-water boat show, which, with more than 2km of pontoons, boasts one of Europe’s largest purpose-built marinas.
Four boats making début appearances here are: the sleek, four-cabin (plus crew quarters or fifth guest suite) Sunseeker Predator 80 (price on request), which can reach 46 knots with Arneson drives or, with different shafts and a choice of engines, cruise for a distance at 30-40 knots; Fairline’s indulgent, entertainment-friendly Squadron 60 (first picture, from about £1.15m), whose massive flybridge has a griddle, sink, fridge, optional icemaker and sunbed area; Williams & Smithells’ beautiful, long-distance lift keel bluewater cruising yacht Allures 45 (from €480,000); and Rumulti’s magnificent, innovative Catana 42 Carbon Infusion Catamaran (second picture, price on request).
Among the regular show attractions is Try-A-Boat, which offers visitors who book at stand A140 a chance to get at least their hands wet as they experience a range of boats (both sail and power) out on the water. The Get Afloat attraction caters for children from eight to 16, who, accompanied by Rockley Watersports’ qualified instructors, can have a 90-minute session on the waves (also bookable). Suzuki offers visitors free, and speedy, RIB rides. And there’s also a wheelchair-accessible Cheetah catamaran, WetWheels, available for non-able-bodied visitors to use. Galley-kitchen “slaves”, meanwhile, can pick up tips at the Sea Kitchen Theatre (with Mark Sargeant, former head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Claridge’s restaurant), while experts are on hand to offer more technical boating advice at several clinics.
Among the new attractions this year is the Whitbread 60 Solent Sailing Experience, which will give visitors the chance to helm, pull on the runners or winch the main sail of a yacht designed for round-the-world racing (book this experience in advance online for £60). Also new this year is the final weekend’s national Inter-Club Two Boat Team Racing Championships, which, like the daily flotilla of modern, vintage and iconic boats that sails past the marina, can be seen by visitors to the boat show.
Few will have a better view than guests taking the Platinum Experience, which should be of particular interest to How To Spend It readers. Among its benefits are VIP hospitality (morning tea, coffee and pastries; hot buffet lunch; afternoon tea), hostess attendance and spectacular marina views from the private Platinum lounge – plus an hour-long tour in a Princess Motor Yacht.