Among the high winds and floods that have plagued the UK over recent weeks, there was a buzz in the air and a beacon of light shining over CA House for the first-ever Open Weekend held on 29 Feb and 1 March in London's Limehouse Basin. The sun came out as the CA welcomed members and non-members through the doors, imparting a wide range of cruising knowledge, marine exhibitor expertise and plenty of CA hospitality!
The team at CA House created the ideal environment for nautical brands to display their products and share expert knowledge with a terrific turnout of visitors. Throughout the weekend, CA members also gave up their time to deliver a superb line-up of seminars that attracted excellent quality audiences.
The exhibitors, ranging from electronics to safety specialists, promoted their products and services to visitors in a happy and relaxed atmosphere. A number of people commented that, unlike the hustle and bustle of a large boat show, CA House provided an intimate and relaxed environment to engage with the exhibitors on a one-to-one basis. Everyone had time for one another.
A packed schedule of seminars, presented in two hour slots by specialist speakers, proved to be a really popular attraction throughout the weekend.
An undoubted highlight, for those who were lucky enough to secure tickets, was the evening talk given by Tom Cunliffe, entitled 'In the wake of heroes', followed by a delicious supper prepared by the CA's superb catering team.
Afterwards, Tom commented: "My thanks to the CA for inviting me and to the audience for listening. What a great crowd to talk to. I'm pleased you liked the pick of my heroes."
Tom Cunliffe, guest speaker.
The CA was also joined at the Open Weekend by Andy Byham, UK Director of Fairview Sailing to draw the winner of the CA's Big Prize Draw that was launched at last September's Southampton Boat Show.
From 450 entries received, the winning ticket belongs to CA member Alan Kohler who, on being telephoned with the good news, was absolutely delighted at winning the £2,500 seven day Solent charter.
Andy Byham draws the winning ticket. Pictured with the CA's General Manager Lucy Gray.
The weekend was a hit, with everyone involved enjoying the experience, and the exhibitors and seminar presenters received terrific feedback. Here's what some of our exhibitors had to say:
"Our strapline this year is 'Bound by water'. As technical specialists in the marine industry, if we're making quality garments for sun and sea degradation then we need to be able to transfer that to the shoreside and our latest product ranges reflects this. We've partnered with the CA exclusively and we were at the Open Weekend to meet members face to face and advise them on our product ranges, as well as provide technical advice on the kit. It's all about education." Joel Chadwick - Corporate Wear Manager, Gill UK
"As a company we focus on maintenance, repair and overhaul requirements and we exhibited to support the CA as well as provide discounts to CA members. We were certainly very busy, with lots of interaction, answering questions and we'll be following up leads back in the office." Steven Andrews, Customer Support Supervisor
Famous for their nautical charts and publications, Jo Bull, Sales & Marketing for Imray, commented that it had been really worthwhile being at the OW, saying, "we've made some great sales and have loads of leads to follow up. It's most definitely been a worthwhile exercise being here."
Dolphin manufactures sails, covers and awnings for a wide variety of boats. Stef Goodwin who looks after sales and marketing said that Dolphin really wanted to have a presence at the Open Weekend. "CA members are our ideal customers and we had lots of interest, especially on Saturday. It was very much regarded as worthwhile being part of a smaller event like this and these are starting to successfully fill the gap left by the London Boat Show. People seem to enjoy smaller shows and exhibitors are keen to support them."
According to Izzy Matheson, the team at Ocean Safety usually spend a lot of time talking to bigger businesses, "but it's great for us to be able to interact with consumers - the end user - at an event like this where we can hear their individual stories, and get a real feel for what they're looking for." Izzy reported a really good level of interest and said that people were visiting CA House to enjoy the whole experience. "We've had a lot of interest and it was such a lovely atmosphere; everyone was happy."
Chris Leech was representing ICOM on their stand. "Thanks so much for inviting us. It's been a really good event and it's been great to meet the end users, the people who actually use our radios; there's been lots of interest and good questions about how the products work. There's a lot of follow up to the leads made here."
Visitors to the Navionics stand welcomed the opportunity to ask questions and talk to a specialist.
"We met with good quality customers, CA members and non-members; quite a cross section of people. The two-hour windows with the seminars has worked really well for us and I take my hat off to the CA for organising the Open Weekend; it's essential to help fill the gap left by the London Boat Show. Being here is flag waving exercise and we like the opportunity to support people who have our products and help with updating their charts." Lance Godefroy, UK General Manager
Raymarine brought their mobile exhibition unit to CA House.
"We came to help support the CA and support Raymarine customers - we share a lot of the same customers and it's a good opportunity to discuss further projects and offer support and all the things you do as part of a small boat show-type event. We have enjoyed really good feedback, and people wanting to purchase equipment via our agents. It is definitely helping to fill a gap left by the London Boat Show and maybe there's potential for expanding the idea into the regions." Richard Marsden, Regional Sales Manager
3 February 2020
Joel Chadwick talks through the key features of the Gill OS2 Jacket.