We love going to boat shows! This was our third year in a row to Düsseldorf, but this time it was different.
On our previous visits we spent most of the time in and out of any sailing boat that raised our interest, mostly blue-water cruisers but also many Mediterranean boats. We wanted to check out as many as possible to understand what we liked in each one and what we didn’t. Despite the fact that Düsseldorf is a completely indoor boat show (yes, you read correctly, no water to float in!) it was fun to hop on a sailing boat and imagine how it would be to be at sea on it. Comments like “Look here, where would hold with a rough sea?” or “Can you imagine cooking here with the boat heeled?” or “Look, this is a smart solution!” went on throughout the day.
Now that we have Kismet, we are not so much interested in visiting boats. We would still like to, but with only one weekend at our disposal, we focused on three tasks:
- Check out some accessories, add-ons and replacement parts. We looked at sail clothes, navigation instruments, LED lights, wind generators and solar panel, diving compressors, dinghy davits and much more.
- Gather information on marinas around the Mediterranean with the idea that we may move Kismet at the end of summer 2014 to a different home base.
- Meet some friends who work in the industry and that we knew were attending the show.
Boat shows are a great chance to see everything you may need (and also what you don’t need but may want!) in one place, side by side. Düsseldorf is organized with thematic pavilions, which means for example that Raymarine, B&G, Simrad, Furuno and the like they are all side by side. You can ask questions and jump back and forth to cross check information. One or my favorite questions to a sales rep is “How is your product X better than product Y from your competitor?” Sometimes you get amazing (or amusing?) answers!
Another reason we like boat shows is that you are there as a potential customer and all the vendors are in “selling mode”. You can ask almost anything and they will spend time with you to show their products and explain how they work down to the fine details. Sometimes these conversations are enlightening and you may receive a free on-the-spot course on any topic. Most of the vendor you meet, especially from the smaller companies, are often themselves sailors and therefore passionate (when not fanatic) about sailing. They love to talk about their experiences and there is a lot to learn from each one of them.
The same goes for marinas. All Mediterranean countries, but also many from the rest of the world, have a booth at the show where you can ask for information on harbors and sailing destinations. We also found out that some marinas in Croatia, Greece and Turkey are affiliated. If you choose one as your home base with a yearly contract, you are entitled up to 30 days in any of the others free of charge while you are on holiday or in transit. Cool! Most of them however do not have a price list to share on the show, so we had to leave our details to receive a “special offer” via email.
Meeting people we know or have been in contact with was definitely the best part of the weekend. We visited Hallberg-Rassy where we shook hands with Magnus Rassy. He was there to proudly introduce his guests to the World Premiere of the Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II, one of the few boats we visited. Unfortunately we missed the moment when German Frers himself came to the booth!
Next we met with Roberto Arrighi and Michele Ricci of Solaris Yachts. Roberto is the broker who sold us Kismet and we have become good friends since then. Beside having his own brokerage company, Ravenna Sail, he is a commercial for Se.ri.gi. the shipyards that builds the Solaris branded yachts. Roberto is extremely knowledgeable about the sailing yacht market and he is our go-to-person for all the latest news (by the way, Cantieri Del Pardo, manufacturer of the Grand Soleil yachts, acquired few years ago by Bavaria, is back into Italian hands!) A quick visit to the Solaris 42 and 44, which are among the best cruiser/racers out there, with the clock ticking toward the end of our two days.
Just the time to visit Discovery Yachts, where we had a lovely chat with Nigel Stuart, their Managing Director, and we were ready to go. Desiree crossed the atlantic on a Discovery 50 catamaran and since then has been keeping in contact with them. It was nice to catch-up from last year!
The only drawback of Düsseldorf? After two days of walking, asking, talking and scanning we really had a hard time to go to work on Monday! And it was even harder since this sailing full immersion has made us miss Kismet and the sea even more.
Marco and Desiree