The 19th Show was held at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast just south of Brisbane, or as the locals call it 'Bris-Vegas'. The Gold coast is Australia's primary tourist area, with the brash shining towers of Surfers Paradise at its centre.
The Gold coast is a boating Mecca, with miles and miles of canals, lagoons, estuaries and access to the Pacific Ocean. Many retirees have made the Gold coast their home, with large motor yachts moored to their own private jetty. The climate is sub-tropical and, whilst the area itself is battling the effects of the drought and climate, its future is being secured through the construction of a desalination plant and increased water infrastructure.
Sanctuary Cove is one of Australia's most prestigious resorts, with luxurious accommodation and five star hotel complex and it is recognised as being Australia's first fully integrated residential resort. Situated on approximately 474 hectares of land it contains two championship golf courses.

Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show 2007

The Marine Village with over 90 specialty stores overlooks the tranquil 297 berth marina, all set in sub-tropical gardens. For those that aspire to own a luxury yacht the setting could not be much better.

The Show was officially opened by the Hon Bob Baldwin, MP, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources. Other speakers include Graeme Avers, ICOMIA President; Geoff Grady, CEO Mulpha Sanctuary Cove and Barry Jenkins, Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show general manager.

The scale of the show was breathtaking to say the least, with 411 on boats on the water and 402 boats and personal water craft on land, not including canoes and 'floaties'. The latest addition to the marina, at a cost of $26 million, is pier A, during the event all of the piers were linked, making 4 kilometres of continuous walkways, between beautiful boats.

More yachts to come

Piers A and G were assigned to sailing yachts; 2008 will see an increase in sailing yachts, due to the increasing demand and the popularity of sailing in Queensland.

Many Australian manufacturers choose Sanctuary cove to launch their boats both to the local and, increasingly, international market, as evidenced by the 26 world and 57 Australasian releases. The 2007 event saw the largest ever international delegation to attend the show.

Selling expertise as well as boats

"The beauty of Sanctuary Cove is that internationals can come here and see everything that Australian companies have to offer." said manager of Export Services Austrade Queensland, Brendan Egan. "We've had the largest ever international delegation here, with representatives of 10 Taiwanese yards, who are sourcing Australian products and components. "We've also had Malaysian companies, with a need for marinas and services, looking for Australian expertise in this area."

This year's show generated $150 million in boats sales and attracted 53,156 people. "I go to shows all over the world and in my opinion this is the best show in the world.," said Riviera CEO Wes Moxey. Riviera, Australia's largest luxury boat manufacturer, was the number one retailer at show, selling 31 boats valued at $35 million.

Sold out for Squadron

Sunseeker, sold 10 boats, valued at $31.9 million, and Horizon Motor Yachts achieved sales of $22.5 million for selling seven boats. Many exhibitors told of large waiting times for boats, with a large supplier Squadron Yacht sales displaying a banner showing 'Sold Out' . Anecdotally, there were stories of cashed up buyers flying in, buying a large motor yacht and flying straight out, demand coming from the resource boom states of Western Australia and Queensland, with groups of workers clubbing together to buy their 'dream' fishing boat.

Awards

Ms Donaldson CEO of the Australian Marine Industries Federation (AMIF), said that the industry employed 36,000 and generated $6 billion across the country.

The AMIF awards, held simultaneously, gave its highest honour - Australian Manufacturer of the Year - to the luxury boat builder Riviera. Others awarded were Ronstan, Soldiers Point Marina, Telwater, The Haines Group, Powercat Marine, Sunseeker East Coast, Matrix Marine, Glacier Bay Catamarans, Steber International, Deep Vee Marine and Powercat Marine.

The show had a relaxed carnival atmosphere, helped by the wandering clowns, numerous jazz bands, plenty of bars and, of course, the weather. Helicopters were buzzing around, continuously, flying the superyacht clients in and out, to vessels like the luxury charter yacht Emerald Lady.

I had the fortune to talk to several companies with innovative world releases, including some of the Australian ones, but with over 456 exhibitors it is impossible to fully absorb the entire show, even in several days.

NEXT: Steve Hall picks his highlight exhibits and talks to exhibitors.