SIBEX was again held this year at the Shenzhen Sevenstar Yacht Club. It attracted a number of Mainland builders and dealers but few from Hong Kong showed up. It was held from the 20th to the 23rd of October 2016, which, considering its remote location, may just be a day too long. Why not start on the Friday and end on the Sunday, instead of dragging things out by starting on the Thursday? But this is China, and sometimes proceedings follow their
own course.

Visitors, however, during the weekdays of Thursday and Friday, were steady and there does appear to be a geniune interest on the Mainland for boating in general. All up, probably a few thousand passed our stand during the four days, and the exhibitors numbered about 30 on the hard and 20 in the water.

Power draws most of the attention, but, sail is creating interest, especially with the popular China Cup taking place nearby at Longcheer. This event is generating a lot of media interest and, with well over 100 boats this year, there is no doubt that the Chinese have seen the value of sailing.

In recent years, there have been a number of rallies and cruises along the coast from Qingdao in the north, to Hainan in the south. Little publicised in the Western media, these events are becoming increasingly popular and are an indicator of the desire to try out sailing, despite cultural aversions to the sea, the sun and life afloat.

One of the issues that is, perhaps, revving things up is that, since 2014, Taiwan has opened its waters to recreational sailing. Could there be a certain ‘envy’ that is spurring the interest in sailing on the Mainland? Very likely and let’s hope it does.

SIBEX showed great promise when it was held in Dameisha but there are serious doubts as to whether this show can continue without support from the big players in Hong Kong. Is it time for the organiser to consider a joint effort, much like the China Cup did with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in the early days? They could always approach the two existing shows in Hong Kong, or even consider teaming up with some of the regional shows in Singapore and Phuket. It would please visitors and, if the exhibitors see returns, all well and good.

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