The sun shone and the people partied at Sanctuary Cove. Officially it was the 20th Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. Unofficially it was party time for the second largest attendance in the show’s history as more than 50,000 flocked to the Gold Coast venue.
Those selling boats certainly reported good business, but those operating bars, restaurants, snack stands, coffee houses and any other facility offering beverages were run off their collective feet as the crowds negotiated the expanded show site.
From the spectacular marina, with more than 400 boats on display, to the big marquees housing all manner of boating services, marine electronics and general boating accessories to the picturesque streets in the Marine Village, this was a show it was impossible to see in its entirety in one day.
It is often said that boating is a family affair and judging by the number of family groups trekking through the show, that statement is right on the ball.
As many kids as adults seemed to be having the time of their lives taking in the sights.
The 2008 show attracted 455 exhibitors, only one less than last year, but with what appeared to be more product than ever before.
Consumers have a rapidly broadening choice it seem, whether it’s in the process of buying a boat, checking out a new outboard engine or perhaps upgrading the electronics or equipment.
While the show revealed a trend towards larger boats, this is not merely a ‘big boat show.’
Canoes and kayaks, tinnies and jet skis, dinghies and surf skis, all had their place and all attracted their fare share of attention.
Many of the victorious entrants in the Australian Marine Industries Federation Boats of the Year awards had their craft on display, with the appropriate signage informing visitors of their new found status and these attracted plenty of interest.
Although this was in every way a fairly typical Australian boat show, it also gave a clear indication of boats of the world; on display were luxury craft from the United States, United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, Italy, France, Belgium and Germany, just to name those which came quickly to mind.
Full credit must also be given to the majority of exhibitors who obviously devoted ample funds and hard work to produce outstanding displays.
Prospective boat buyers were well catered for by most exhibitors, with customer lounges, refreshments and product packages.
The fact we are well and truly in the computer age was evident in that very few people were given (or asked for!) brochures; extensive product information and images were all available on CD-Rom systems or art online website.
Show visitors seemed fairly well spread out over the four-days; a matter of opinion only, but I thought morning attendance seemed higher than later in the day, although many did spend the morning as show viewers, enjoyed lunch at one of the numerous options available and then called it a day.
Sanctuary Cove management has been undertaking expansion and improvement to the venue and this year featured more dining options then ever and those in attendance took every advantage.
If there was an aspect of the show worth mentioning above all others in came in the form of confirmed sales made.
Barry Jenkins, general manager of the show, suggested business to the value of more than $150 million had been written over the four days.
He expects this figure to rise as dealers and manufacturers attend to leads gathered.
Prior to the show opening, the industry exhibited some 'nervous apprehension' at what may have been a decidedly soft market.
Sanctuary Cove, 2008, has seemingly put paid to that.
For those who like to plan ahead, organisers have already confirmed the dates for the next two shows; 2009 is set for May 21-24 and 2010 is May 20-23.
Rocker Daryl Braithwaite proved there was plenty of life in Maritimo’s guests with the dance floor 'jumping' all evening. - Maritimo’s Sanctguary Cove preview - Click Here to view large photo