The NEC Birmingham welcomed a packed hall of visitors today at BoatLife 2024 – Powered by Suzuki – and what a first day at the boat show it turned out to be. The air was full of excitement amongst the boating community as Ollie Ollerton, from Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins, opened the eagerly anticipated four-day event. Ollie talked about his motivation to establish the BreakPoint Academy, his involvement in water-based military operations and his clear love of boating. A proud boat owner, he recently picked up a stealth design Iron 827 from the The Wolf Rock Boat Company.

With more than 220 boats on display, an outstanding 25% increase from last year, as well as an even more extensive range of exhibitors taking larger stands this year, the BoatLife floor was packed with a buzz of activity. Gleaming power boats were displayed by renowned industry names such as Cobalt BoatsParker AdamsTBS BoatsRydsWills MarineCDTIdealboat and sturdy RIBs from Barrus MarineRebel LeisureOcean RibsExcel and Cambrian Marine to mention just a few.

Waterways options from companies ABC LeisureABNB BrokerageBray Marine Sales and Tingdene were very popular in the Inland Zone sponsored by HPi VS, represented by Ambassadors David Johns from Cruising the Cut and Adam Lind from Floating Home. Narrowboats from Lakeland Leisure Estates and JF Boatbuilding proved an impressive feature, and media partners Canal Boat Magazine offered a great readership deal.

The Angling Zone, with media partner Sea Angler Magazine, was a vibrant hub, where the Cox and Rawle Rig Centre offered a great spot for advice and tips. Brands included Catch and CookPeter Leonard MarineOn-Top AnglingInflatable Boat FishingSmall Boats Sea FishingSuzuki Fishing and Whitewater Marine while Ambassadors for this zone were notable fishing personalities – John Locker, Will Parkinson and Squidward 3.

At the lively GJW Direct Activity Pool, Rockley organised plenty of free have-a-go sessions for visitors, with paddleboards provided by North Sands and kayaks from Riber. As always, these great activities resulted in plenty of family fun and laughter! Nearby, the beach area with surf simulator, ice cream and fish & chips van plus Mermaid Gin Bar, added to the lifestyle vibe as a convenient place to meet up with friends.

The atmosphere was buzzing on the Main Stage sponsored by Pelagic Sales Network and hosted by Olympic commentator Alec Wilkinson. Guests heard three groundbreaking announcements with the first from the MES Racing Teamdetailing their exclusive trilogy challenge. Headline sponsor Suzuki UK launched an exceptional new outboard and the innovative Cruise Moor Scheme debuted with Aqueduct Marinas. In addition guests were treated to a range of appearances from watersports cameraman Matt Connor, angling chat from Adam Jones and John Locker, with epic RIB adventurer Harry Dwyer later in the day.

Green tech was well represented at the boat show with the much awaited debut of the Torqeedo travel range package demo, new business launched as well as debuting the new ePropulsion eLite 500w electric outboard, while eco-friendly Washdown products were delivered to all boats on display. Within this framework, exhibitors such as MastervoltRAD PropulsionBonomi,  Whisper PowerBluNav and Solar Technologycertainly piqued plenty of interest with an assortment of sustainable marine options.

Outside, the Isuzu driving challenge was in full swing, with the NEC course being put to the test by eager drivers ready to take on the gruelling track.

The show continues through to Sunday this week and those wishing to visit the show held at the Birmingham NEC can pay at the door or online via the BoatLife website:

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