Mer and I stopped in a sex shop on the walk back to our Amsterdam hotel tonight after dinner, and after walking the aisles, we saw something that put us into huge fits of laughter – I’ve never seen anything like it before. Skip to the end of this article to find out what it is, or read on for our short report on the world’s biggest boat gadget show…
I bring up the wacky sex shop item because that’s what so many boat shows are – good ideas filled with silly products that few people need or want. But not METS – the Amsterdam show is an intense three-day midweek trade show, and while it’s open to the public, the company representatives are not there for that – they are there to work. The booths are expensive enough to keep out the wonder-glue and George Foreman grill touts, and what’s left are smart people going through meeting after meeting to get their orders sorted out for the 2010 year.
Any illusion I had of seeing the entire show during it’s three-day run were dashed shortly after arriving on Tuesday. The picture above explains why; that huge room absolutely full of vendor booths is just one of the ELEVEN halls that make up the show – with a big proportion of the exhibitors being sailing or dual-purpose businesses. And when you learn that a tiny little booth costs around 5,000 Euros, you begin to realize just how seriously they take the sport in Europe.
There’s little point in doing a play-by-play of the show – there is simply more new sailing gear here than anywhere else on Earth and we never had a chance to see it all. There’s foul weather gear from a dozen countries, and electronic gear from a dozen more. There are forward looking sonars, forward looking infrareds, in-cockpit and on-bridge touch screen displays that shame your living room TV. There are anchors, lines, sails, composites, gangways, fenders, winches, blocks and cleats. There are fabricators, builders, designers, marinas, marketeers, and the media. And not just a few – we found more than a few sizeable manufacturers that we’d simply never heard of before. If you want more concrete info on the products we missed, try the DAME Awards Jury Report or the complete list of new products at the METS right here. For what it’s worth, my favorite racer gadget was the Formula One-derived data-logging performance gadget the Pi-Garda, from Cosworth Electronics – see the thead for our video with them.
The good news is that, despite the recession in full force in Europe, this year’s METS show was the biggest in history with nearly 1200 exhibitors, and of the hundred or so guys we spoke to, the show was massively busy for abour 90% of them. People are spending money again, and while the get-rich-quick guys are long gone, the industry is once again optimistic and looking forward to being in the sailing business.
We did a pile of interviews with anyone we could find with something interesting and new, with everything from young blonde chicks to the guys who run Harken and Selden, and Mer took a ton of pics of the things that caught her artistic eye, and we hope you get a little taste of the show by checking out the entire thread. It’s all right here.
And the sex toy I wrote about above was called a Glow-In-The-Dark Pussy Opener. For real.