My answer is the list of some of the people I've met at Boat Shows:
- John Blake, author of The Sea Chart (above left)
- Bob Shepton, author of Addicted to Adventure (above right)
- Elaine Bunting, editor Yachting World
- Tom Cunliffe, author
- Will Stirling, boat builder
- Sam Llewellyn, editor Maritime Quarterly
- Skip Novak, around the world sailor
- Stokey Woodall, sailor
- Roger Taylor, sailor of Mingming up to 80N
- Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were captured by pirates
- Geoff Holt, paraplegic sailor
- Peter Webb, sailed round Spiztbergen in an open boat
- Liza Copeland, author of the Just Cruising books
- Sally Kettle, author of Sally's Odd as Sea rowing the Atlantic
- Hector Macdonald, author of The Storm Prophet
- Jo Rogers, one of the Sisterhood
- Jock Wishart, Arctic veteran
Plus I've met up with old friends, and made some new ones with whom I've sailed with across the Channel and between Lisbon and Gibraltar.
For me the boat show isn't about things - boats, gear or even Guinness - its about people.
Each year the Boat Show seems to shrink a bit, become a bit smaller and the organisers must be wondering how to boost it, to make it relevant again.
I say focus on the people of sailing, the men and women who have stories to tell who we'd like to meet and hear from. Create a series of talks by writers and adventurers, with lectures and Q&A sessions.
This always so much interesting stuff going on - just think about what's in the news, with the Volvo, Extreme and America's Cup. There's clubs full of people worth hearing from - I had a great chat with someone at the Cruising Association stand.
That is something you can't get on the internet, something unique about being there in person, something to answer that question: why go to a boat show?