This year’s 52nd Southampton International Boat Show saw its official opening attended by members of Team GB Sailing Team.

In particular, three Olympic Gold Medallists Dylan Fletcher, Stuart Bithell and Eilidh McIntyre went on to tour the site and meet members of the public. Islanders may remember Dylan was skipper of the British entry at Cowes in the Sail GP event in 2019.

Incidentally, Eilidh’s father Michael along with Bryn Vaile took Gold in the Star class in the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

Boatfolk Marinas, which have 11 UK sites including East Cowes, launched Boat Gen through the Andrew Simpson Foundation, which has Sir Ben Ainslie as a founding trustee. Boat Gen encourages young would- be sailors to get afloat with opportunities to learn how to sail. Soon there will be the chance for Island youngsters to join in this scheme so look out for Boatfolk announcements. Eilidh McIntyre was involved with the launch of this saying that she had learned to sail from a young age and always had had the dream of winning an Olympic Gold.

Swallow Yachts from Wales launched their Whisper 300. Built in wood it boasts Twin 70HP  motors which are surprisingly quiet. It can reach 25 knots and features eight separate buoyancy areas.

The Island’s Mermaid Gin was the drink of choice for several stand holders to launch their products or to make special announcements.

One of these was Sunsail which has survived the pandemic well and is once again offering sailing opportunities including sailing holidays or the chance to sail during Cowes Week. In future, Prometheus Sailing will be the trusted UK partner of Sunsail UK.

Renowned sailor Mike Golding OBE was on the B&G stand to present the Yachting Monthly Environmental Writer Award to Sophie Dingwell. Mermaid Gin and tonic drinks were provided to toast the deserving recipient who had written environmental features for magazines. Mike Golding spoke of a time when he was sailing, and his boat collided with what he thought to be a small island. This in fact was an island of plastic rubbish that was so dense it stopped the yacht completely. On investigation the yacht crew found plastic bottles, plastic ropes and netting and other plastic items forming a dense man-made island. Following this Mike has become very involved with environmental projects.

Bentley Motors made an appearance at the show displaying three models. Mulliner coach building is a feature of the Flying Spur which also boasts marquetry and embroidery on its interior. Bentley cars are produced in Crewe and the SUV hybrid Bentega could be viewed. Most exclusive was the coach built open top Bacalar with a prototype model on display. Only 12 have been produced for Worldwide distribution. Top speed is 210 m.p.h. and the car has a price tag of 1.5 million pounds.

Back on the water Sunseekers were on show having just returned from the Cannes Yachting Festival in a buoyant mood following remarkable sales and the announcement of yet more brand-new models. At Southampton there was an enthusiastic audience viewing across the Sunseeker whole range and many sales have been completed following interest in boating increasing from those seeking space and fresh air after lockdown.  

Island company Seaspray was in a new area of the show exhibiting their little Microboats. With people “staycationing” this year and looking to get on the water these little boats are very good value, starting at £699. The company, based at Bowcombe, have made nearly 1,000 of them and they are proving very popular as tenders and family fun boats.

From small boats to very large engines with Mercury launching its all new V12 600hp Verado featuring a naturally aspirated, large displacement and quad cam powerhead that generates impressive torque to get heavy boats moving rapidly. For safety measures Mercury have introduced 1st Mate the World’s first engine-integrated man overboard and proximity-based theft deterrent system. Utilising a highly styled wearable device that integrates with Mercury SmartCraft systems, 1st Mate adds another layer to boating safety.

For visitors to the show who enjoy traditional boats with some history Morgenster, a sail training ship based in the Netherlands, is moored on the floating pontoons.

Launched in 1919 she is 151 feet long and was originally a herring lugger, later converted into a motor fishing vessel. Given her current name in 1959 she continued in the fishing business until 1970. At one time she was a pirate radio station, then in 2008 she made her maiden voyage as a STS having been refitted as a Brig.

Continuing until the 19th (Sunday) the show can be easily accessed from the Island. Red Funnel are offering  Red Jet tickets for £9.30 to enable Islanders to get across the Solent.