The home of British aviation instead became the home of boats, boards, sails and wings of a different kind this weekend as thousands of water lovers took over Farnborough International for the 2023 RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show presented by Suzuki (25-26 February).
Featuring dinghy sailing, windsurfing, wingsurfing and foiling as well as paddleboarding, the long-standing Show brings together participants, clubs, training centres, Class Associations, equipment manufacturers and retailers from right across the small boat sailing and boardsports community, all sharing their water-based passions and helping more people spend more time afloat.
This year the Show welcomed 8,500 visitors, 160 exhibitors, and hundreds of boats and boards with some 74 expert talks and presentations also taking place across the weekend. Visitors flocked from all over the UK as well as Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Singapore, Hong Kong and USA.
“I’m delighted to have welcomed so many dinghy sailing and watersports fanatics to the Show this weekend, as well as those deciding where their on water journey will take them next,” said RYA Director of Sport Development Rob Clark. “The atmosphere was alive with passion, enthusiasm and excitement as people browsed all the latest boats, boards and equipment, soaked up expert knowledge and hit the shops for some early-season boating bargains.
“The RYA organises this Show to bring together the small boat sailing and boardsports community, and it was absolutely thriving this weekend,” Rob continued. “I just loved seeing people getting involved in the interactive sessions, catching up with old friends and making new ones, getting inspired to get afloat and discovering new ways to do so.
The Show’s three stages (Suzuki Main Stage, Knowledge Zone and an expanded Watersports Stage) attracted big crowds with popular talks including ‘Out of the Shadows’ with Olympic gold medal-winning father and daughter Mike & Eilidh McIntyre, ILCA top tips with Sam Whaley and Hannah Snellgrove and winging workshops with James Hardy and 14-year-old national champion Hugo Dobrijevic.
The RYA Interactive Zone was awash with visitors trying out the windsurfing, winging and sailing simulators, the trapeze rig and taking on some model boat racing, while the 360 VR Experience supported by RYA SafeTrx had show-goers immersed in a sea of virtual reality.
Various prestigious prizes were awarded across the weekend, with Lymington Town Sailing Club crowned the RYA and Sailing Today with Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year, supported by Gallagher, and the Shearwater catamaran ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ picking up the Concours d’Elegance trophy for ‘boat of the show’.
A record-breaking 17 university clubs successfully completed this year’s The Green Blue University Sailing Sustainability Challenge, sponsored by Rooster, with awards presented at the Show.
Hattie Rogers, 22, was named the youngest ever recipient of the YJA Yachtsman of the Year Award following her win at the SailGP WASZP INSPIRE Grand Final last year, with 17-year-old British Sailing Squad iQFoil windsurfer Charlie Dixon taking home the YJA Young Sailor of the Year trophy through his victories at the International Games and the under 19 Worlds last year.
Inga Kouru-Nedaskovskaja. Editor-in-chief of the Health Fitness Travel Guide