Just fewer than 9000 people attended RIBEX 2004 in its new home at Cowes Yacht Haven on the Isle of Wight. The sun shone, and the Red Funnel ferries and visiting RIBs brought people to the waterside show-site by the score – all eager to see what the show had to offer after its two-year lay-off.
Skepticism and its rebuttal
It’s true to say that a substantial proportion of the RIB and its associated industry was highly skeptical of the show’s new location. Some companies openly stated that they felt the show would fail and many of the dealers who play a vital part in the representation of such companies declined to attend. Other companies appeared to get cold feet as the show date loomed and exercised their right to pull out. Still, others were so nervous they came with a tiny display ashore with a view to just ‘dipping their toe in the water.’
If anything, the short journey by sea over to the Isle of Wight proved a plus rather than a negative. Lee Fairweather of Solent RIBs subscribes to the opinion that the show’s location worked in its favor from the point of view it meant that visitors who did attend were truly serious about coming to the show. Many of course went to the show in their RIB, and so took full opportunity of being able to moor up on the RIBEX visitors pontoon right within the show-site itself. On Saturday it was packed and offered yet another point of interest to the show with its variety of privately owned craft ranging from cabin RIBs to 5-meter family runabouts and even a wave piercer RIB.
The present and the future of RIBEX
The change of the location proved that it isn’t about the venue, but about events and the boats. The focus of every RIBEX, from its starting point until today, was the showcase of power boats and everything that they can do.
Some see this show as a big marketing campaign for companies that make these boats, and that view of the RIBEX is fundamentally wrong. This event was always there to showcase what this industry has to offer, and everyone can come there and present their product. Both professional boat manufacturers and amateurs can apply and become part of the RIBEX. Their boats have to pass several inspections that will deem them fit for the event. No vessel that fails any examination can enter the event even though it is a functional vehicle as this is a power boat show and other types of vehicles can’t participate.
Every year sees the expansion of the lineup of boats and manufacturers which is a great sign that tells a lot about the bright future of this show. The overall increase in events that showcase the power and versatility, as well as features, of many boats in the show is also a great sign of progress. This attracts new visitors and the increase in the visitor numbers has positive effects on the growth of the whole show.