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On a winner

The 2023 Sydney International Boat Show has been hailed a positive, inclusive and lucrative event.

Written by Jeni Bone

09 August 2023


The 54th Sydney International Boat Show, from 3 to 6 August, ticked all the boxes, according to exhibitors and organisers. Andrew Fielding, President of the BIA, said numbers have been up around 17 percent on last year.

“Numbers for Thursday and Friday were up, at around 6,000 per day, and Saturday’s attendance was similar to last year. In total, attendance topped 46,919, which is an increase on last year.”

In the role for 12 months, Fielding said the focus has been on creating a show that works for exhibitors. “The show’s been well received,” he said.

“The BIA and Mulpha worked together on enhancing the format of the show. The single-level layout of the Halls makes optimal use of the space. Exhibitors were very pleased with that format and it sold out quickly.

“There were 233 exhibitors, accounting for 646 boats at the show, including 220 vessels on the marina representing 82 on-water exhibitors, the largest on-water display since 2018. There were 151 exhibitors showing a total of 424 boats in the halls.”


Another key indicator is consumer sentiment. “We were keen to see what impact interest rates and cost of living pressures would have on sales, but from speaking with exhibitors, they are confident of strong sales. Across the board, deals are being done. The top end of the luxury market is still spending, according to the boat brands on the marina.”

James MacPhail, Pantaenius Australia Managing Director, described SIBS 2023 as “well run and well presented. Our enquiry for quotes was solid. We saw hundreds of customers during the show. From a branding exercise and to profile who we are and what we do, it was highly successful.

The Whitehaven Group had a large stand on a prominent part of the marina and it was truly wonderful to hear feedback and comments on our brands: Whitehaven, Integrity and Aquila, and share our news for new models arriving this year and in 2024.

Mark Riley, Dealer Principal at Marine Riley joined Whitehaven for the first time since becoming a dealer just a few weeks prior to the show.

“It was very busy, and very positive,” Mark stated. “Thursday and Friday were busy with potential clients and knowledgeable people who sought out Whitehaven. The Whitehaven 6800SY was the jewel in our display, and attracted its share of interest.

“I invited a lot of clients who had not had the opportunity to step on board a Whitehaven Motor Yacht before. They couldn’t believe the quality of the features and the bespoke details.

“So many people told us they are looking for bigger boats and Whitehaven struck a chord. They are very keen on the idea of personalising everything from the hull up. The first of the new Whitehaven 6500 Sports Motor Yacht has been sold and is being customised now with the client. There is a lot of interest in that model going up to 83-feet. We are designing two larger models now.

“The Harbour Classic also attracted interest, especially the new models, the 48 and 52 which are poised to begin construction.

“We have many excellent leads we’re following up on. It couldn’t have been better!”

“We purchased and sent 853 tickets to customers this year and many of them visited our stand and thanked us. We were well positioned in the ICC and on the marina where we sponsored the Ocean Club Lounge with Ocean Media, Benetti Yachts and Burgess.”

Peter Hrones, Managing Director at eyachts and TMG said the show has been “unreal, fantastic, lots of sales. There has been massive interest in all our products, particularly the Greenline 45 for its value and volume. People are coming back for second and third inspections, which is always a good sign.”

The Pardo brand of motor yachts “has gone nuts. We have the 38 and 43 on show and we’re already planning to bring the 50 next year and have three or four models on show in 2024. People love the look of it; its simplicity, and Italian design and flair.”

The team also promoted the Candela brand of electric foiling boats from Sweden with videos and information, ahead of the arrival of the first model next year.

At the show, Hrones and his son Chris launched Carbon Yachts, with an initial portfolio featuring the prestigious sailing brands of Saffier Yachts daysailers and Michael Schmidts Y- Yachts along with Virtue dayboats and AST Tenders.

On show were the Virtue 10, Saffier 33 Life and Saffier 37 Lounge. “The Saffier 33 from Holland was really well received and we have plenty of sea trials after the show,” said Peter Hrones.

John Cowpe, Managing Director of The Multihull Group (TMG), distributor for Lagoon and Prestige catamarans, said the show has been excellent. “There’s definitely activity at the show. We have a number of people close on the bigger Lagoons 55 and 65, and we sold a Prestige M8, the first of which is due in early 2024.”

The sharing economy is booming, too. John Cowpe and Peter Hrones are directors of the equity ownership company COBLI and sold shares in a new Lagoon 46 and an Axopar 28 at SIBS.

“COBLI makes boating accessible,” explained Cowpe. “It gives people the opportunity to be an equity stakeholder in a vessel to enjoy the best of boating on the latest models with ease and at a fraction of the cost.”

Horizon Yacht Australia has two vessels on show this year: the new customised V74 yacht and an FD80 yacht. Director Mark Western said the foot traffic on the marina was steady and the quality of visitors high.

“There are genuinely four or five people we are hopeful of speaking with in the coming weeks, and we finalised the sale of an FD90 at the show. “Feedback on the 80 is that it’s the boat of the show. We received so many comments.

“It’s just a cracking boat, and has everything you’d ever need, features you’d see in a 120-footer. It’s a compact superyacht that’s easy to manage by owner-operators, with six cabins, a jacuzzi, and 12,500 litres of fuel – it will get you around the Pacific comfortably, and it’s competitively priced for what you get.”

Richard Morris, Director of Australian Superyachts, distributor for Gulf Craft in Australia and New Zealand, said he was thrilled to have the biggest vessel on show again this year – the superlative BLUESTONE, a Nomad 101.

“We were proud to show the Nomad 101, demonstrating the Gulf Craft brand is strong in Australia. It was great to hear the fantastic feedback about the quality, size and value for money.”

Over the four days, several strong leads and sales made the event worthwhile. “There was substantial interest in the Nomad 101 and the Majesty 72,” said Morris. “There are a number of contracts out, several sea trials and people coming back next week. So, we’re very happy.”

Next on the agenda for Morris and his team is attending the Cannes, Monaco and Fort Lauderdale shows. “Gulf Craft has a lot planned in terms of new models, and we have two more boats under construction for delivery into Australia by summer.”

Peter Pembroke, Highfield Australian Managing Director, said the show was very positive and the RIB brand was satisfied with enquiries and sales across the range. “From our position in the ICC, we were very happy with the numbers through the show and response to our new models.

“Highfield is building its profile more and more with a name for functionality and quality. In terms of direct sales, we had several at the show and the highest number of leads to follow up from any show.”

Also in the ICC, Sirocco Marine presented RIBs from Zodiac, Sirocco, Williams and Ukraine-built BRIG Boats, returning after a year’s hiatus, impacted by the Russian war in Ukraine.

“It was heartening to hear people’s reactions to seeing BRIG back at the Sydney show,” said Sirocco Marine Managing Director, Neil Webster. “People were pleased to see strong representation for Zodiac as well, and we have a lot of leads to follow up on in the next few weeks.”

Mark Elkington, Director of Yacht Sales Co. – now merged with Multihull Solutions – said the show was very good for all brands, including Dufour, Fountaine Pajot, Tesoro, Absolute and ILIAD.

“We had one of our largest displays ever with a line-up of six models, including the global and Asia Pacific premieres of three new yachts: the ILIAD 53 Fly, Dufour 37 and the Fountaine Pajot Isla 40 sailing cat.

“We came here with no targets, just the attitude that we’re here to show our boats and provide people with information,” he said. “It has been totally worth bringing 20 staff to Sydney for the show, with lots of interest, several sales and sea trials arranged for the next few weeks.”

The Yacht Sales Co. hosted the debut of the ILIAD 53 Fly, which Elkington said was hailed “the standout power cat at the show”.

“We signed a few orders and have nine sea trials in the coming days, which was very satisfying considering the market is a bit soft at the moment. The Absolute 47 Fly was popular and the Spanish Tesoro T40 also captured people’s attention. We took a couple of orders for that as well – it has been a much stronger show than we anticipated.”

At Princess Yachts Australia, Greg Haines said he was thrilled with the weather and the response to the Princess models on show, the Y72 and V55. “People have been very impressed with the quality of the build and the details on the Y72. It’s been a great boat show all round.”

From the fractional ownership segment, Andy Young at BSA (Boating Syndication Australia), said SIBS 2023 was “a cracker of a show, the best in 15 years!”

He and his team sold 26 shares during the four-day show and an additional three on Monday, with “heaps of leads and test runs to follow up on. The larger boats attracted the most interest and most sales were for larger share values,” he explained.

“Consumer doom and gloom were absent from any patrons we had through our stand and there were thousands! People were buying and had extra cash and wanted entertainment and relaxation.

“COVID taught us one thing and that’s life is short. The sentiment is to live life large’! Boating is the best way to do this. BSA boat ownership was in many owners’ minds and budget.”

SIBS is a crucial marketing event in the lead-up to Summer, Young continued. “In my opinion, those businesses not there only cost themselves business – business we at BSS will happily pick up!”

The 55th Sydney International Boat Show will run from  1 to 4 August 2024.



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