Boat show organisers ‘blown away’ by turnout
Large crowds turned out on Saturday to see the wide variety of stands at Shetland Sailing Centre’s 2013 Boat Show.
Hundreds attended the Clickimin Centre to learn more about what is on offer for seafarers and nautical fans.
Visitors saw a mix of marine equipment suppliers, as well as impressive boats and dinghies, both old and new.
There were nautical-themed paintings on display and model boats were also being shown.
The Shetland Museum was there with a number of old vessels, including the second-oldest Shetland boat in existence, the Ann, which was built in the 1860s.
The boat show, which was held for the first – and only – time in 2002, has been staged to raise crucial funds to help the sailing centre administer RYA training in the isles.
Cash raised from the weekend will pay for training schemes and buy vital equipment needed to help growing numbers of people get used to being on water.
Organiser Neil Fraser said he was “blown away” by the response.
“I don’t have exact numbers, but I’m absolutely amazed with the turnout already,” he said.
“As an early indication, I looked out at the car park and it was full at half ten. So I’m absolutely delighted.
“It was our goal from the outset that this should not just be a boat show. This is a show for anything aquatic – above the water, below the water. We set out with that goal right from the start, and we tried to get as many folk here as possible.”
The association is considering making the event a regular one.
Its principal, SRT chairman Joe Irvine, admitted the association had similar ideas when the initial event was held 11 years ago.
“But I think we should do it more regularly. There has been positive feedback. There has been a good mix of commercial stands.”
On hand were representatives from the Fireball European Championships, which are returning to Shetland next year after an 11-year gap.
Around 50 dinghies competed when the exciting nautical event came to the isles in 2003. Now, organisers are preparing for what is hoped will be an even more impressive attraction in the summer of 2014.
Lerwick Boating Club will host the event from the last week of July.
Although a European Championship, it is effectively regarded as an “Open”, and competitors from across the globe are encouraged to take part.
Andrew Davies is the organisation’s international secretary. He persuaded organisers that Shetland would be an ideal place to stage a European championship.
“We were here 10 years ago and we had a great time, so it’s time to come again,” he said.
If all that excitement was too much, Unst brewer Sonny Priest was on hand with some of his real ales.
He said there was a link between refreshment and sailing, although his refreshments are perhaps best enjoyed on the shore-side.
“It’s maybe no something I would advocate you try when you go on a boat,” he said.
“This is the first show that I’ve been at. It’s excellent.”
For full story and more photographs don’t miss next week’s Shetland Times.