IT’S all aboard for the event that boat lovers across the globe have been waiting for.

The PSP Southampton Boat Show is back and it promises to be bigger and better than ever.

More than 120,000 visitors are expected to pour into Mayflower Park during the nine-day celebration of everything the maritime industry has to offer – including some of the most expensive boats in the world.

TV presenter Matt Baker will be leaving the sofa of The One Show and sailing into the marina today as he and Olympic Gold medal-winning sailor, Iain Percy OBE, an ambassador of the show’s official charity the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, launch the event.

This year’s show will look to the future of the industry, with a special focus on apprenticeships, and Hampshire sailing legend and Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie will hand out prizes to more than 60 recipients at an award ceremony next week.

Youngsters learning the ropes are involved in a billion-pound industry which keeps 141,000 people employed in full-time jobs, many of them here in the south.

The figure was revealed in a report by the British Maritime Federation (BFM), the trade organisation for the maritime industry, which also found that the boating industry and everything associated with it boosted the UK economy by £6.2 billion in 2012 and 2013 – and the PSP Southampton Boat Show makes a healthy contribution to that while putting the city on the map.

Cllr Stephen Barnes-Andrews, deputy leader of Southampton City Council said: “With its unique and historic relationship with the sea and booming cruise industry, Southampton is the natural choice for hosting such a show.

“Southampton has a lot to offer, so we encourage the show’s visitors to venture out to other parts of the city.

“We welcome their contribution to the local economy making hosting the show an important boost for the city and reinforcing its position in the heart of the UK’s marine industry.”

The show will also raise thousands for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation which was set up in 2013 in honour of Olympic gold medallist Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson MBE who died in a training accident in San Francisco Bay in May last year.