This is what the (official) London Boat Show (TM) looked like on Thursday evening. Comparing it to the one at Earl's Court in December there was one obvious difference - the number of people there.
I had a chat with show Product Manager Michael Enser, who was tactfully avoided any attempt to compare the two. Maybe he felt he didn't have to, with first Saturday attendance of over 16,000, compared to the Earls Court meager 900. That was actually up 700 on Excel's previous year's first Saturday, which doesn't suggest much splitting of attendance between the two.
I had a chat with On Deck Sailing (who deserve the plug as they've got some really interesting sailing options up this year and they gave me a glass of bubbly) who were at both. They felt Earls Court may have had low "footfalls" but they were good contacts, and it can get hard to manage the greater number of leads from Excel.
One benefit of the docklands site is the ability to house the huge motor boats like this Princess. Glamorously shining black it hung high above those walking by, reflecting most of the other boats in Excel's huge shed like halls.
One commonality between the two is the emphasis on a stage with events and bands, which is generally a good development. At least here they had an audience, unlike the rather embarrassing empty space in Earls Court.
They didn't have the James Caird, the Top Gear car, or Gypsy Moth, but there were alternate attractions. Like this Volvo Ocean Race ride - where you get bounced around more or less in sync with shots of VOR boats racing across the southern ocean with fans blowing air in your face - great fun.
Also met these two authors, Sally Kettle and Hector Macdonald, who were so nice I ended up buying both their books.
Sally's book "Odd at Sea" is the true story of how she rowed across the Atlantic with her mum despite no rowing experience and suffering from sea-sickness.
Hector's book "The Storm Prophet" is a novel set around the Sydney Hobart yacht race. I'm still reading Ackroyd's Thames but will give reviews of both when get round to reading them.
I also had a chat with Jo Rogers, one of the Sisterhood who raced a Dragon Boat across the channel who I'd seen practicing along the Thames last year. While I'd struggled to fit in sailing with work and doing an Open University module she had been up at 6am training, working in a her film company Scion Films, and flying off to LA as part of an MBA focused on the film industry. Bit of a wow! really.
So how which was better - and what would that mean? Will have a ponder and post some thoughts another day.
1 hour ago