Water sports, environment big focus of show
As Europe’s largest boat show, boot Düsseldorf helps to set the agenda for boat shows throughout the rest of the year.
Organizers of the show said the 2017 edition ended up drawing 242,000 attendees to see the latest technology and products.
“boot is in great shape. There was a vibrant atmosphere in all the halls during the nine days. Good sales and a party mood were the outstanding features of boot 2017. The trade fair efficiently succeeds in satisfying the conflicting requirements of being both an entertainment and business platform,” said Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, president & CEO of Messe Düsseldorf.
More than 1,800 exhibitors from 70 countries presented their products and services at the annual show in Düsseldorf, Germany.
“Water sports enthusiasts from all over the world visited boot. People came from almost every European country. Our exhibitors reported excellent sales figures, stating that boot is the most important business platform worldwide,” said boot director Petros Michelidakis.
The majority of the foreign visitors were from the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France, with increased attendance from Eastern Europe and Asia as well.
According to the German Association of the Water Sports Industry, sales of motor boats up to Euro 80,000 at the trade fair were very good, while demand for luxury yachts was greater than ever before. Director Jürgen Tracht said he anticipates even stronger demand from exhibitors from the luxury segment for boot in the coming year: “Shipyards that observe the trade fair from outside this year have realized that it is essential to participate if they want to compete on the international market.”
Exhibitors also spoke highly of the show. Magnus Rassy from the Swedish sailing yacht manufacturer Hallberg-Rassy, noted, “We are very satisfied with boot Düsseldorf. It is quite simply the best boat trade fair in the world.”
Martin Schemkes from Jeanneau/Prestige, which also owns the Four Winns, Glastron, Scarab and Wellcraft brands, added, “The excellent infrastructure at boot and the quality of the visitors make it possible for us to sell this large number of boats. We are already looking forward to the next boot Düsseldorf in 2018.”
Water sports take center stage
In addition to the 1,800 boats and yachts on display, boot 2017 also catered to the entire water sports community.
Just like in the United States, Europe is facing the same problem of getting younger people into boating. During a meeting with show director Michelidakis, he identified that as a key challenge. The show is trying to do its part, partnering with a number of German schools to bring students to the show, who could be see walking around boot Düsseldorf sporting “boot Next Generation” T-shirts.
One of the key attractions for those potential future boaters was the two halls dedicated to water sports. Although the exhibitors said it isn’t as big yet as it is in the States, it’s growing in popularity in Europe. The show also features the WAVE, which show organizers say is the first stationary deepwater wave at a show. It hosted surfing demos and competitions, as well as giving attendees a chance to try it out.
“With the WAVE, we took the plunge with something that is unique in the world,” Michelidakis said. “The first standing ‘Deep Water Wave’ at a water sports trade fair developed into a major attraction for visitors right from the start.”
More than 93,000 fans cheered on the star surfers not only during the contests on both boot weekends but also when they were training during the week. Almost 1,500 people – from beginners to the world champion – surfed the up to 4.9 feet high “WAVE” during the nine days of boot.
Water sports boats were also well represented at the show.
MasterCraft’s new XT21 made its European debut at the show. The mid-sized crossover adds a 21-footer to the existing XT23 and XT25. The new series is a step up from the NXT series and MasterCraft expects it to drive plenty of sales to new boaters, said Jay Povlin, vice president of sales and marketing for MasterCraft.
Now that the NXT has been in the field for a while, MasterCraft has found 40 percent of NXT buyers are first-time buyers and an additional 30 percent are coming from the sterndrive segment. The company is aiming for similar numbers for the XT series.
After the United States and Canada, Europe is MasterCraft’s largest market. There is great potential for growth, Povlin said, as wakesurfing hasn’t caught on in Europe to the extent it has in the United States, but there are lots of skiers and recreational users.
There was also an emphasis at boot Düsseldorf on protecting the environment in general and the oceans and waterways in particular.
Boatbuilders exhibiting at the show said there is a much higher demand for electric propulsion in Europe, with many lakes banning the use of gas-powered motors.
Dr. Christoph Ballin, CEO of Torqeedo, said the company is experiencing growing demand for its products across the world, but that Europe is ground zero. He said that the growth of electric vehicles from companies like BMW and Tesla is a great sign of the potential for electric boats.
The “Love Your Ocean” campaign was also an important theme of the show, with a number of displays and educational sessions around that theme. A cooperative project between the German Ocean Foundation and boot Düsseldorf with support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, it raised awareness of and interest in protecting oceans and water environment. In the presence of the Prince of Monaco, the three partners signed a cooperation agreement launching the “Ocean Tribute” at the boot VIP “Blue Motion Night” event. This award will be presented for the first time at boot 2018 in the categories society, science and industry to honor innovative ideas and products that protect the water environment.