Yacht makers hope disco decks will help them cast off at London Boat Show

Tue Jan 7, 2014 9:53am EST
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By Clare Hutchison

LONDON (Reuters) - Longer boats, decks for discos and underwater lighting are among the offerings yacht builders are hoping will help steer them out of a sales slump this week at the London Boat Show, the biggest British showcase for their wares.

It's all about new markets and tastes in Asia and Latin America at the cavernous exhibition center in the east of the city.

A 40-m (130-ft), 16.5-million-pound ($27 million) super yacht and the presence of Olympic gold medalist/America's Cup sailor Ben Ainslie are among the main attractions expected to lure some 100,000 enthusiasts to the show.

Not all the boats there will be extravagant; the Boat Show also still caters to family budgets.

But super well-heeled visitors can set course around these to inquire about having their more substantial yachts delivered without any cabins - outfitted instead with disco dance floors and mini casinos, as increasing number of buyers are doing.

"It's to do with the personal taste of the owner. The whole thing is fun, you take these boats and put them on the water and the whole thing comes alive," said Carl Richardson, communications director of yacht builder Princess Yachts International.

Orders from fast-growing economies like China and Brazil have helped renew demand for floating palaces, which tanked after the economic crash of 2008, industry representatives said.

Princess, whose stand cost 1 million pounds ($1.64 million) to build and is one of the main attractions, sold two of its 60-foot-plus yachts to British buyers in the first three days.   Continued...

A man reads underneath pictures advertising yachts at the London Boat Show at the ExCeL centre in London January 6, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor