For me, Barcelona is always a refreshing show, because it is not dominated by phrases like “Moving up the model range”, “High end” and “High net worth”.

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This is a show that presents everything to do with boating and watersports in equal parts, from luxury yachts to an inflatable toy lion, with nothing missed in between.

I have been attending and enjoying the Barcelona Boat Show for many years and I’m still attending each year.

It may not be the world’s best attended show - though that’s a moot point, because it has often seemed the busiest to me - but it is, in my view,  the most interesting of all the shows that I can claim to have intimate knowledge about.

The theme of this show was “Fun on the Water”, which is my idea of what boating ought to be about. I have, on occasions, been told that’s an old fashioned notion, but it seems to be a view that is shared by the Barcelona Boat Show organisers and, judging by the happy smiles of those sampling a host of activities - from windsurfing to simulated big game fishing - it’s also a view shared by many of the visitors!

This really is a show that can guarantee that every visitor, whatever their interests and however deep, or shallow, their pocket, will find something to suit them.

There are, as at every show, the “novedads”, which may, or may not be really new, or just new in Spain, but the fascination of Barcelona is variety and that’s a story best told in pictures.

OUTSIDE

Outside there was a cluster of wooden craft. Some restored, some awaiting restoration, but mostly lovingly hand crafted.

I cannot help thinking there is a real niche market here, yet like similar small craft exhibits I have seen at shows - La Rochelle,  Belgium and Amsterdam - there was no serious attempt at marketing and very few leaflets, for those interested to take away.  I found myself thinking “Isn’t this crazy, they spend hundreds of hours building  the boat ,stretch the budget to get to the show and then are miserly over a bit of printing.” Most of them will remain small businesses, but maybe they like the lifestyle and want to stay that way. No-one approached me whilst I was admiring ths workmanship, except one young man, who came forward as I was examining the exquisite Joana, and proudly told me that his father had built it.

The wooden submarine was fascinating. It is a full scale replica of Ictineo II, a vessel built in 1862 and invented by Narcis Monturiol Estarriol.

A notice said that it had been built in 1992 and was going to cruise submerged in the Port of Barcelona, but there was no-one to ask whether this had actually happened!

 

INSIDE

Inside the huge Fiera, were displays of boats that are as professional as those at any other show.

Stands that caught my eye were Duarry, with its impressive RIBS; Rodman with the new Muse and sports fishing boats; Lema, whose boats really do look fun to own and use; Menorquin, which had a very big display of llauts - a personal favourites style of boat - and Qwer, with its ultra fast runabouts, which are fitted with surface drives.

 

 

OUTSIDE

Port Vell, like Cannes and Monaco, is a perfect setting in which to show off expensive yachts afloat. It has the sun, the character and the ambience, so it is not  surprising that the array of boats seemed little different from those I saw at the autumn Mediterranean shows and I felt a certain sympathy for Spanish motor yacht manufacturers, who were hard to pick out  from among all the Italian glamour.

That was not the case with sail yacht builder North Winds, which had chosen its home  show to introduce its new 68 to the world and show off other models.

What would I have liked to cruise away in? The North Wind 68 appealed a lot, but I’m a motor boater at heart and the yacht that most attracted me  was this canoe stern 28 metre megayacht from Benetti Sail Division. That yard should not be confused with Azimut Benetti, though they have history in common.

Evergreen’s traditional styling is not to everyone’s taste, some might even use that word “old fashioned” again, but it would suit me.

Barcelona says it is about having fun on the water and it’s a fact. Any visitor would be absolutely spoiled for choice by the array of dinghies, beach cats, surf boards, motorised and non motorised toys. There was even an indoor pool where you could try things out.

Fishing is clearly big business and the stands were always packed with visitors selecting from the huge array of rods, reels, lures and other essentials. The rod testing rig was a place of laughter, as the public pitted their skills against some imaginary giant, and I even heard English voices, boasting about their “catch”.

 

It’s not all about admiring boats, or having fun though. There are many interesting exhibits on display, in an area devoted to innovation, where the Fiera gives FREE space to young designers.

The keel is that of America’s Cup yacht, Le Defi Espanol, and was developed by Barcelona’s super computer. The weather bouy was developed by the Instituto Canario de Ciencias Marinas and is the perfect answer to getting weather information to competitors in club regattas.

I think Barcelona has got the balance right and I only heard one visitor complaint! An Italian woman said Port Vell’s attractive cobbles should be concreted over to make it easier to walk in high heels!

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