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Members of the British Olympic Sailing Team Open the Southampton International Boat Show 2021

Published on: 22 September 2021

Members of the British Olympic Sailing Team open the Southampton International Boat Show 2021 220921

Southampton International Boat Show, Britain’s biggest festival of boating, returned on 10 September 2021 with athletes from the British Sailing Team, fresh from Tokyo 2020, opening the show in style! 

Situated against the stunning backdrop of Europe’s largest, purpose-built marina, the much-loved show returned to the shores of the Solent after a hiatus, making the biggest splash ever. 

Crowds descended in the September sunshine with former Made in Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo spotted taking to the water on a jet ski and being served Champagne from the waterside by professional fly boarder James Prestwood, shortly before she captured a selfie on the Solent with the Olympic heroes from the Great Britain Sailing Team.

The 52nd edition of the show sees the addition of five brand new zones tailored to life in, on and around the water including Watersports, Dinghy, Classic & Day Boat along with On The Water and Festival Green - perfect for relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere. 

Opening day visitors were able to explore the new zones with newbies and seasoned enthusiasts alike taking to the water on kayaks, paddle boards and rigid inflatable boats (RIBS), exploring exciting interactive features giving them a chance to sample life on the water. 

The new Festival Green hosted live music while guests enjoyed tucking into an array of  delicious seafood, cocktails and light refreshments. 

As well as getting people out on the water who may not usually have the opportunity, this year’s Show focused on accessibility helping visitors to dip their toe in the water for the first time, or perhaps develop an existing passion. Whether guests were water sports enthusiasts, boating beginners, or seasoned pros, the Southampton International Boat Show delivered something for everyone. 

CEO of British Marine Lesley Robinson said: “We have seen an incredible turnout for the opening of our 2021 show and were so excited for the people who joined us at our brand-new dedicated zones tailored to different sectors of the industry. This year, we welcomed thousands of people to Mayflower Park and inspired 14,000 visitors out on the water.” 

Leader of Southampton City Council Daniel Fitzhenry joined President of British Marine, Ian Cooke on a high adrenaline RIB ride while musician and renowned adrenaline seeker Jay Kay (Jamiroquai) was spotted in the crowds.

Guests were able to enjoy an array of on-the-water experiences, from trying stand-up paddleboarding, to an exhilarating trip on a 7.8m RIB, through to sailing aboard a 37ft yacht.  

Britain’s biggest festival of boating ran until 19 September and key features of this year’s Show included: 

  • Try-a-Boat: Guests had the opportunity to glide through the waters in a high-speed RIB or float across the Solent under sail.
  • Island Scene Mini Cruise: Fully-equipped with sundecks and bars, the Island Scene hosted the Show’s very own mini cruise ship.
  • Watersports Zone: New for 2021, the boat show introduced a windsurfing simulator for an exhilarating addition to the day, along with paddle boards and kayaks.
  • Get Afloat: From dinghy sailing to paddleboarding, visitors could try something new or sharpen their existing watersports skills.
  • Try-a-Dive: The Andark Try-a-Dive tank gave guests the opportunity to experience what it's like to breathe underwater!
  • Festival Green: This new zone introduced the perfect place to unwind with friends surrounded by amazing music, acts and special appearances.
  • Seaside Storytime Ship: Readers were invited to listen to magical stories of water adventures and more, provided by Southampton’s libraries. 

Green initiatives 

Building on existing environmental initiatives, the Southampton International Boat Show asked exhibitors to commit to an environmental pledge that helped the 2019 show divert over 7.5 tons of waste from landfills. This includes a ban on all plastic straws, reduced use of single plastic and a paperless ticket system (e-tickets and QR codes). 

British Marine also presented Exhibitor Environmental Awards to joint winners Premier Marinas and Bentley Motors in recognition of going above and beyond to reduce their environmental impact and introduce sustainable working practices.  

Boating is stronger than ever 

Whilst the pandemic saw a pause of the show, the leisure marine industry is prospering and has benefited from the great British staycation with British Marine's latest boat sales statistics providing strong evidence of this recovery. Sales in the first half of 2021 are a fifth (21 percent) higher than pre-COVID sales in 2019. 

This boom is set to continue with nearly 80 percent of members of British Marine confident in their business's current prospects, reflecting the strength of this recovery.

Keep an eye out for...

Our upcoming story rounding-up all the latest news and details from the Southampton International Boat Show 2021, which will be shared in next week's British Marine newsletter!

Lead image: The 52nd Southampton International Boat Show kicked off ten days of festivities in style with the official ribbon cutting by members of the British Olympic Sailing Team fresh from Tokyo 2020 pictured with Georgia Toffolo L to R: Ali Young, Eilidh McIntyre, Stuart Bithell, Dylan Fletcher, Chris Grube, Charlotte Dobson.

Georgia Toffolo ‘Toff’ at the Southampton International Boat Show 2021

Cheers: Flyboarder James Prestwood ensured Georgia Toffolo ‘Toff’ celebrated the opening of  Southampton International Boat Show with fizz

Cheers: Flyboarder James Prestwood ensured Georgia Toffolo ‘Toff’ celebrated the opening of Southampton International Boat Show with fizz

Former Queen of the Jungle Georgia Toffolo shows her adventurous side as she took to the water at  Southampton International Boat Show

Former Queen of the Jungle Georgia Toffolo shows her adventurous side as she took to the water at Southampton International Boat Show