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Port Sidney Marina to host largest in-the-water boat show on West Coast

BC Boat Show comes to Saanich Peninsula May 12-15
Steven Threadkell, manager of the BC Boat Show scheduled for May 12-15 at Port Sidney Marina, says recreational boating has grown significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

A major showcase event of the recreational boating industry returns to Sidney when the BC Yacht Brokers Association (BCYBA) hosts the BC Boat Show May 12-15 at Port Sidney Marina.

The largest in-the-water boat show on the West Coast will feature watercraft of every kind, from paddle boards, kayaks and inflatables to power and sailing vessels of every size with visitors welcome to tour the boats of their dreams.

The upcoming show not only signals the return of a familiar event, but also builds on an historic first.

“We had our first boat show in almost three years last fall in September and it was hugely successful,” said Steven Threadkell, boat show manager. “We never had a fall show before. So it was wonderful. We had great attendance, great exhibits.”

The event confirmed the growing popularity of recreational boating, he said.

“A lot of brokers are saying, ‘we are having trouble finding boats to sell.’ It’s hugely popular. Nonetheless, the fall show had a huge variety of boats, which is very nice, something to appeal to every budget.”

With limited, if any public health limits in place and recreational boating growing in popularity, Threadkell expects a larger crowd.

“Typically, here in Sidney, the show draws between 4,000 and 5,000 people. That said, our social media campaign has just gone crazy. There is a lot of public interest out there and it’s looking very good for us that way.”

The show draws primarily from Vancouver Island and mainland B.C., as well as Alberta and Washington State. Last fall’s show drew people from all over the world, Threadkell added, with vaccine passports required and other public health measures taken. “Not that they came here for that, but they were here. We had people from various countries in Europe, many parts from the United States and from every province in Canada.”

RELATED: B.C. boat show in Sidney ready to celebrate delayed 30th anniversary this fall

The show also speaks to the significant role recreational boating plays in the local and provincial economy. Recreational boating in B.C. leads to at least 17,000 direct, full-time jobs, “because buying a boat is just one part of the equation,” he said. “People are constantly maintaining it, accessorizing it, looking after it, so there are many, many industries associated with recreational boating.”

Many local businesses also theme their window displays around the boat show. “We (also) get tremendous support from the Town of Sidney, from Sidney council. It has been very gratifying. It’s hard not to be happy we you get good support,” Threadkell said.

Looking at specific trends, the industry is moving toward greater fuel efficiency, he added.

“There is a very strong shift toward the development of hybrid-electric and fully electric boats. We are going to have our first full electric boat in the show … it’s 29 feet long and it will cruise all day at six knots. It has a combination of solar-feed to the batteries, plus you plug in at the dock overnight to re-charge.”

Fans of boats powered by more traditional forms of renewable energy – i.e. wind – can also get their fill at the show.

Mill Bay Marine Group, which own Port Sidney Marina, will present its historic 100-year-old tall ship The Providence. Visitors can also enjoy various food and drink offerings on site.

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