The location of RIBEX and what will now be from 2012, The Powerboat & RIB Show, has been a source of on-going debate for many years. Indeed, each new venue brings with it its own supporters and opposers. Weymouth, Southampton and Cowes all had their own merits – both ‘fors’ and ‘againsts’ – and each location has brought something unique in the way of character and opportunity to the show. As a show organiser, I can say that we have received many suggestions as to possible locations for the show in the past, but sadly, folk can overlook or not fully appreciate just how few options there are along the south coast that can offer suitable waterside facilities and event berthing. Also, the importance of nearby sea trialling is paramount, as are public access to the show, services, harbour authority clearance, date availability and, of course, hire cost. All these features play their part in determining whether a site is even workable.
It has become clear to me that in these challenging times, replicating the traditional UK boat show formula is no longer viable; in fact, I would go as far as to say that this old formula is redundant. The traditional format of staging shows that require the public to travel to a closed-fenced, ticketed event is producing an ever-decreasing audience of already ‘converted’ individuals. What the boating market needs is shows that not only cater for the hard-core visitor but also have the ability to attract fresh faces, new people to whom we can introduce the joys of boating, perhaps for the very first time.
In the light of all this, we are delighted to announce the news that we have gained the agreement of Land Securities PLC to stage, The Powerboat & RIB Show, at the UK’s premier luxury retail development, Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth. For the three days of 11th–13th May 2012, Gunwharf Quays will become, The Powerboat & RIB Show. All the boulevards, waterfront, plazas, plus Central Square and the marina itself, will be filled with exhibits, all open and on display to the public. With no closed fencing and no ticketed/restricted public entry, The Powerboat & RIB Show will be an open show, a show designed to capture the interest of not only those with an existing love of RIBs and water sports, but also the 90,000 or so members of the public that frequent Gunwharf over the course of a spring weekend. This then achieves our goal of taking the show to the people as opposed to simply expecting the people to come to the show. The Powerboat & RIB Show at Gunwharf Quays will be the means by which the industry can take advantage of the biggest public ‘shop window’ opportunity yet in the history of UK boat shows.
Another feather in Gunwharf’s cap is its accessibility. Whether it’s via mainline rail, ferries, bus services or the direct motorway link from London, getting to the show is straightforward and direct. Furthermore, upon arrival by car, visitors are directed to extensive underground car parking right beneath the complex, to then emerge in Central Square, where the electronics, chandlers and gear suppliers will be located. From here, the other areas with their displays and exhibits will follow on right around the complex. Overlooking the marina and harbour entrance beyond are the waterfront restaurants and cafés – and in front of these, the waterfront landside exhibits and special features. The marina itself will be filled with craft all available and ready for sea trial. The open waters of the Solent are just a few minutes away and therefore the new location holds true to the Powerboat & RIB Show requirement of ensuring that genuine sea trialling can be offered within close vicinity of the event marina. Public RIB rides will also be in operation throughout the course of each day and will be provided by Powerboats and Yachts with their fleet of Ribeye RIBs. The Canal Side and Plaza areas of the site will also feature a variety of exhibits, including those displayed by the leading engine manufacturers. In this latter zone there will be additional features and attractions that will be staged throughout each day.
Gunwharf Quays makes for a great day out with masses to see and do. The Powerboat & RIB Show at Gunwharf will make a superb place to meet with friends, enjoy a meal, soak up the atmosphere, check out all the latest products and get out on the water aboard some of the most exciting boats afloat. We will be working very hard to deliver the finest show we can for you and look forward to greeting you to the show’s brand-new home next May. In the meantime, we’ll keep you abreast of developments but can confirm already that there are some very special launches and debuts being planned. It promises to be a great event!