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Hampshire firms descend on London Boat Show
Around 100 Hampshire firms have descended on Britain's capital city today for this year's London Boat Show.
Following the success of the PSP Southampton Boat Show in September, dozens of firms from across the county set up stalls at the ExCeL centre this morning.
The nine-day show, which features everything from speedboats to dinghies, boat paint to hot tubs, was opened in a blaze of glory as a marching band paraded down the boulevard.
And Poole-based super-yacht manufacturer Sunseeker once again stole the show, as BBC presenter Suzi Perry, Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans and singer Alfie Boe officially launched its two new models, the Predator 68 and San Remo.
Hampshire's record breaking yachtsman Sir Ben Ainslie also attracted a crowd, as he unveiled his new America's Cup support boat.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist proudly revealed the new model, which has been built by Lymington-based firm Scorpion.
Sir Ben then held a question and answer session with some of the visitors, ahead of the launch of his new Henri Lloyd clothing collection.
The show, which is open until January 20, sees 500 firms showing off their marine equipment.
Murray Ellis, managing director of National Boat Shows, hailed the opening day as a "success".
Mr Ellis added: "We hope that the companies who have made the investment to exhibit here will be successful and make a return on that investment.
"Equally we hope that visitors have a fantastic day out and hopefully leave with bags of knowledge and bags of products.
"It's got a good feel, great atmosphere for day one and ling may that continue through each if the nine days."
But the opening day of the show got a mixed reaction from Hampshire-based exhibitors.
Karen Potts, from Hamble Yacht Charters, which hires out boats for occasions ranging from business meetings to birthdays, said: "It's obviously still very early days in the show, but there are a good number of people here and we have handed out a lot of leaflets and information.
"For us the London Boat Show is all about making contact with people who haven't chartered with us in the past, and also speaking to people buying boats to explain the advantages and putting it into chartered management."
Phil Smith, technical sales director at Fareham-based battery and power suppliers, Barden UK, believes the show has been in "gradual decline" since it switched from Earls Court to the ExCeL.
He said: "Historically if you go back 10 years it used to be madness here. We would have four people on our stand and it was very busy.
"Sometimes now we only have two here.
"But that's just a sign of the times.
"Realistically we don't use the show to make sales any more, but as a form of advertising. If we can sell some stuff while we are here then great."
For a full round up of day one of the London Boat Show, see Monday's Daily Echo