Southampton Boat Show 2016: Preview

PUBLISHED: 11:03 13 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:47 26 September 2016

Join Captain Jack aboard many of the vessels ready to try on the water

Join Captain Jack aboard many of the vessels ready to try on the water


Hoist the main sail, power-up the engine, Boat Show fever returns to Southampton this September offering visitors a wonderful day out among some of the world’s finest yachts and most exciting boats says Viv Micklefield

Being a coastal county, the sea shapes many aspects of day-to-day life in Hampshire, and even those of us who live inland are drawn to the rise and fall of the tides. So as Europe’s biggest boating festival drops anchor for its 48th year, whether you’re a seasoned sailor, still learning the ropes or are looking for an action packed family day out, then a trip to the Southampton Boat Show on the Mayflower Park waterfront, is just the ticket.

Take to the water

Wind-powered or motorized, whatever floats your boat head to the booking point in the Arena to grab a free seat on board a variety of vessels, from pulse-racing RIBS to relaxing cruisers that take life at an altogether more leisurely pace, both of which are available during Try-a-Boat sessions.

Meanwhile, with its mast soaring high above the marina, you won’t mistake the mighty tall ship Artemis, where crew members are ready to tell visitors what ocean going life is like. And for wheelchair users there’s Wet Wheels, a specially adapted catamaran that rips through the waves at up to 40 knots.

Youngsters aged between eight and 16 years old can try their hand at dinghy sailing and stand up paddle boarding during an hour-long lesson, and little ones too can steer their own course on the bumper boats (£3 per child). Alternatively, land lubbers will have fun building a sandcastle or competing at giant beach games in the Kid’s Corner. 

Pace the pontoons

Stroll around one of Europe’s biggest purpose-built marinas with more than two kilometres of pontoons displaying over 300 yachts, RIBs, motor and day boats from around the globe. Alongside the latest craft from French boat builders Beneteau and Jeanneau, and Show newcomer, Monte Carlo Yachts, this year’s launches include world premieres for some of the most eagerly awaited powerboats and cruisers on the planet. Mention the Oyster 675, Spirit 47CR or Cormate Utility 23R under the same breath and sailing aficionados will go into an instant spin, whilst local distributor Key Yachting from Hamble-le-Rice, is amongst those showing-off UK debuts to an expectant audience. 

Get kitted out

Boating enthusiasts need a whole wealth of equipment from engines to sails, sat nav to deck shoes, and for this year’s Show there’s an additional 550 square meters of undercover exhibition space in the new-look Ocean Hall.

There will also be the chance to meet some of the volunteers from the National Coastwatch Institution and RNLI who look out for those getting into difficulty off our shores, as well as Portsmouth’s International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) which is already inspiring a new generation of shipwrights at its workshops within the Historic Dockyard. 

Going global

Have your own adventure in the heart of the Solent by joining the 12-strong crew of a Global Challenge sailing yacht! The 90-minute hands-on sailing experience under the watchful eye of the professionals costs £59 per person and could see you taking the helm, hoisting and trimming the sail or grinding the winches on a 72 foot offshore racing craft. This attraction is open to over 12s, with adult supervision required for all those under 17 years. As adverse weather conditions may cause the suspension of this and some of the other on-the-water activities, check availability on the day. 

What lies beneath?

The main focus of the Show might be on what’s going on above the water line but a glimpse into its very own aquarium, provides a chance to get up close to some of the marine life that’s so important to the health of our planet. With rock pools and tanks bursting with fascinating creatures discovered in local waters, scientists and students from the University of Southampton, who are based at the city’s National Oceanography Centre, will be there to get the whole family started on a journey of exploration. 

Past masters and pioneers

Discover the wonder material of historical and modern boatbuilding, as members of the Wooden Boatbuilders’ Trade Association come together from all over the UK to craft and construct in front of your very eyes. With demos and talks taking place just inside the main entrance, there’s plenty to marvel at as well as the opportunity to share in a few trade secrets. 

Girl power

Save the date, Thursday 22 September is Ladies Day at this year’s Boat Show and the perfect opportunity to while away the hours among some of the world’s most glamourous yachts and eye-catching boats, dressed to impress with a glass of bubbly in hand. For those looking to really push the boat out, there’s the Ladies Day Platinum Experience with a £135 ticket buying buffet lunch, access to a private lounge, plus an on-water luxury motor yacht experience. 

All aboard

Wherever you’re travelling from, this year’s range of ticket options allow every visitor to max out on the Boat Show experience. There’s reduced admission on Friday 16 September which is the Public Preview Day; thereafter residents living in SO14 - SO19 can get in for free on the gate, whilst everyone can save money by buying tickets in advance. Standard Adult tickets are on sale at £15 (instead of £22), which also entitles up to two children under 15 years to get in for no extra charge, and Concession, Group and Family Tickets are also available.

During the entire Show, the Premium Experiences offered include the top-rated Admiral’s Club Lounge where you can take-in the atmosphere whilst quaffing Prosecco from a private balcony and enjoying food served throughout the day. Tickets for Experience days range from £59 to £70 per person per day. For full details steer a course to

Getting there

When: Friday 16 to Sunday 25 September, 10am – 6.30pm daily, except the last day when the Show closes at 6pm. On Friday 16 (Preview Day) gates will open at 9.30am for access into the Arena.

Where: Mayflower Park/Town Quay, Southampton. The Show entrance (SO15 1AG) is located on Harbour Parade.

How: By car the nearest pay and display parking is at West Quay approximately 5 minutes’ walk. Alternatively, there’s also parking at Hythe, where you can buy your ticket and ferry passage to the Show following signs to the entrance on arrival in Southampton. By train: Southampton Central is a short walk or use the City Link bus service from here to Town Quay; by bus there are regular services into Southampton bus station which is close by.

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