by Emma Slater
The RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show, in association with Yachts and Yachting, proved more popular than ever this year as dinghy enthusiasts from across the country flocked to Alexandra Palace, London over the weekend of 01-02 March.
RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show 2014
'We had some 10,000 people attend this year’s show, making it the most highly attended show since 2006, with a fantastic seven percent increase in advance and on the door tickets on last year’s figures; we are delighted.
'It’s great to see that the show is still a firm favourite amongst dinghy enthusiasts and people looking for something new to try and it is great to see such a large number of younger visitors to the show' commented show co-ordinator Charlotte Pearson.
'The feedback we’ve received from exhibitors, visitors, guest speakers and the visiting British Sailing Team sailors has all been extremely positive, with everyone agreeing what a fantastic show it’s been.
'Many people commented on the exciting buzz of the show and how much there was to do and take part in. The atmosphere all weekend has definitely got everyone fired up for the season ahead and we will making every effort over the next year to make the 2015 just as successful and look at ways to improve the balance between Saturday and Sunday attendance and activities', added Charlotte.
Being the only show in the world dedicated to dinghy sailing it is really a must for all dinghy sailors and enthusiasts. Throughout the weekend visitors had the chance to check out the hundreds of boats, both old and new designs, that crammed the halls of Ally Pally, kit, gear, books, and much more, as well as pick up some top tips from some of the very best dinghy sailors and dinghy sailing experts around.
A host of British Sailing Team sailors including Paralympic Bronze medallist Alexandra Rickham, made their way to the show to take part in main stage talks and share their top tips in the coaching sessions. They also spent time hanging out around the show having a go at the many activities taking place including, giving tips on the trapezing rig and having a go on the RS sailing simulator, as well as chatting to visitors, signing autographs and generally having a great time.
From hard core racers to cruisers, families and youngsters the show had something for everyone. Main stage talks attracted big crowds as did the more hands on coaching sessions where visitors got to experience everything from taking part in the sailing fitness sessions, to the interactive racing rules session and the always popular Rig Tuning sessions.
Younger visitors whizzed around the show collecting stickers in the ‘Bob the Buoy’ Treasure Hunt, under the watchful eye of ‘Bob’ himself, the RYA Junior member mascot.
Amongst all the action and hustle and bustle of the show there were also a whole host of prizes presented and winners announced throughout the weekend. Our winners were:
• RYA Club of the Year 2014 – Staunton Harold Sailing Club
• Concours d’Elegance winner – Mike Lennon’s Exocet International Moth
• RS Design a sail competition – William James, seven, from Torquay
• RYA Regional Youth Champions 2014
o Thames Valley: Leila Moore
o Eastern: Bryony Bennett-Lloyd and Annabel Cattermole
o North East: Ben Russell
o South East: Ross Banham
o South West: Bella Fellows
o Scotland: Gillies Munro and Daniel Harris
o North West: Hannah Bristow
o Northern Ireland: Liam Glynn
o East Midlands: Ellie Craig
o Southern: Anthony Parke
o Yorkshire and Humberside: Reanna Wilson
o West Midlands: Kieran Martin
o Wales: Ellie Meopham
• Treasure Hunt winners (Saturday)
o First – Hugo Hardy, Norfolk
o Second – Keeley Kenmuir-Hogg, Derbyshire
o Third – Elliot Porter- Webster, Nantwich
• Treasure Hunt winners (Sunday)
o First – Amelia Mayhew, Erwarton
o Seocnd – Abbie Wallace, Maldon
o Third – Tom Backhall, Aberystwyth
'We will be announcing shortly the winner of the ‘Start Sailing Competition, where one lucky visitor will win a Topaz Taz courtesy of Topper Sailboats International and a massive haul of other essential dinghy sailing goodies', commented Charlotte.
The show was also a great success for the hundreds of exhibiting sailing clubs, associations and retailers.
Father and son team Clive and Ben Johnson, owners of Shipmates commented: 'We’ve always come to the show, I started coming in 1974 and we’ve been a father and son team for about 20 years now.
'We’ve done lots of shows over the years but always come back to this one. We see a lot of regular clients at the show who visit us each year. It has a lovely atmosphere, it really is one of our favourites and being a dinghy focused show we know what our clients want and that works really well for us.'
David Kent, Sailing Development Manager for the Scottish Sailing Institute (SSI) commented; 'SSI have been coming to the show for over 10 years now. It’s a great place for us to network with the classes and attract events north of the border.
'The atmosphere is really friendly and we’ve had a lot of people coming to talk with us; it’s great having all the main players all in one place. Saturday was really busy, busier than last year and we’re hoping for a busy Sunday as well.'
We hope everyone who visited the show this year had a great time and we look forward to seeing you there next year, 28 February – 01 March.
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