The Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (May 24 -27) is cresting a new wave of growth as it celebrates its 30-year milestone, and the Gold Coast’s marine industry has weathered the ride on the way to new success.
The iconic show is a literal barometer for the resilience of the Gold Coast and broader Australian marine industry, with event organisers daring to predict plain sailing ahead. The word ‘booming’ has even been mentioned.
Known has SCIBS, the event, which debuted in 1989, has endured the highs and lows of a vulnerable industry reliant on luxury and discretionary spending, with the ebb now translating into a fresh flow of orders for local boat manufacturers and a strong turnout of more than 300 exhibitors.
With the GFC economic shock now a decade ago, the recent buoyancy is best demonstrated in the addition of a whole new Sport, Leisure and Fishing Boats precinct, dedicated to trailerable craft under 8 metres.
SCIBS Managing Director Johan Hasser says the expansion is a fitting marker of the event’s resilience and evolution for the 30-year anniversary.
“The new 5,000sqm outdoor precinct is really a show within a show,” says Hasser.
“We’re expanding our appeal to a different market with the big brands on-board, so we have our marina displays, hospitality suites, luxury vehicle marques and a real showcase of the lifestyle that goes with getting out on-water, all in a vibrant village setting.”
“We like to refer to the event as a Melbourne Cup on Water.”
This year will see 180 boats on-water, compared with 135 in 2017, and organisers are expecting to attract more than 40,000 visitors.
There were 104 exhibitors and a fledgling local industry when the show made its impressive debut in 1989, with “Mr Boat Show” Barry Jenkins at the joint helm of an event simply designed to showcase the Sanctuary Cove lifestyle.
Now with the silver-hair and global reputation befitting an elder statesman of the Australian marine industry, this old salt can reflect on the success of the show, and the renaissance of boatbuilding.
“30 years is definitely a great achievement – to have seen out the lean years of industry contraction and now to be enjoying a positive mood with the industry in a good place really helps us celebrate the anniversary,” Jenkins says.
“The show has followed the fortunes of the industry over the years, helping people rally through the hard times and now things are starting to boom with export sales up.”
Having stepped back from his main organising role several years ago, these days Jenkins helms Superyacht Australia.
The Superyacht and Marine Export Conference (ASMEX) is aligned with SCIBS and held at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort from May 21 to 23, demonstrating the value of the show for B2B marine trade.
The upper echelon of the industry, superyachts (over 100ft) is seeing slow growth in the number of vessels cruising Australian waters, and Jenkins believes the value of the prestigious segment could double through the relaxation of import duties.
“We’re working on that with the Australian government and we’re hopeful – we know that it would have an immediate and substantial positive impact as it recently did in Fiji.”
Even with the status-quo, the city’s re-fit yards which service yachts are securing bookings through until the end of the year, while local boat manufacturers have healthy order books extending out to 12 months.
SCIBS will feature the world launches of two new luxury vessels from Gold Coast manufacturers – the Maritimo X60, which promises to be a world-first in its motoryacht class, and the sporty Riviera 395 SUV.
Boating industry legend and founder of Maritimo Bill Barry-Cotter was among the first exhibitors at the inaugural event and remains one it’s strongest supporters.
“We’ve been involved from the outset and I believe it is the best boat show when you consider all its elements, including the location and all that Sanctuary Cove has to offer visitors,” Barry-Cotter says.
Superior Jetties CEO John Hogan is another foundation SCIBS exhibitor and will also be celebrating 30 years in operation next year, having carved out a global reputation for floating solutions for marina construction, floating pontoons, jet ski docks and boat lifts.
“It has grown to have more lifestyle impact with cars, leisure products, food and boutique shopping all playing a part of The Marine Village atmosphere that makes it one of the world’s great boat shows,” Hogan says.
And further demonstrating the breadth and longevity of the industry, ATL Composites are also marking three decades on the Gold Coast and make epoxy resins, structural adhesives and other composite materials used by the marine, architectural, sports and automotive markets.
ATL’s Lorraine Murray says they’ve diversified and grown beyond the marine industry over the years, and are pleased to see their Australian boat-building customers now in good stead because of their quality products compared to lower cost imports.
“We have enjoyed steady expansion in Australia for 38 years and our product range is now used, and distributed, throughout Asia and Europe,” Murray says.
As for the future, Hasser welcomes increasing innovations in fuel efficiencies by boat manufacturers and also predicts growth in Air B&B style boat sharing to enable more people to get out on the on water.
And Jenkins, who was responsible for taking the show to the world, believes recent Gold Coast Commonwealth Games exposure will provide a lure for people to visit and fall in love with the water lifestyle.
“Fundamentally nothing has changed since the beginning – when people come to the Gold Coast they experience a real desire to get out on the water and this emotional connection is as strong as ever, all the way from canoes to super yachts.”