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For those not familiar with the Mets Trade show, it has been active since 1988. It takes place in Amsterdam, Netherlands, famous for its Canals, Windmills, Tulips, bike culture, coffee (spliff) shops, red light (Roxanne) hotels and stroopwaffels.

There is no other Marine Trade show like this in the world, and although it is mostly “guys in ties” there are a few “skirts”. A Seattle Electronics company commented: “We’ve been coming here for 15 years and if we had only one show to do during the year, it would be this one.” Many companies use the opportunity to announce a new product. Many companies use choose to meet with their distributors during the show or dinners. It is not unusual for a 20 some odd group to descend on a restaurant and take over the place.

Just walking the aisles this year, it was easy to run into or see blending into the crowd, the likes of well known Yacht designers involved in the America’s Cup, skippers in the Volvo, America’s Cup and Vendee Globe. They meet with their suppliers who keep pretty tight lipped about projects.

If they don’t already have exhibitor stands, the editors of recognized magazines in sailing, boat building, boating industry, marinas and other fields are on hand to get a glean on new products or programs. Exhibitors come from as far away as NZ, Taiwan, China even if it might be a local European distributor setting up the stand. Over the roughly 6 halls, and there are 1,380 companies, most of which are distributed amongst National Pavilions (40 countries): Australian, UK, Spanish, Italian, French, German Turkish, Danish, Finnish, American, Greece, as well as Superyacht, composite, marina & equipment pavilions.

Exhibitors include, not limited to, building materials, after market products, and services for racing yachts, superyachts, workboats, resellers, and marinas. A full list of categories and subcategories. There are boat transport companies, superyacht management systems and one in particular tracking system which is tied into Caterpillar engines by Satellite, doing diagnostics/warning automatically. What you will NOT see are slicing dicing kitchen utensils as seen on TV….

Trends:
There were more electric or hydraulic products to work the boat designed for people with big boats but no youngsters to pull the lines for example.

Reversible winches Dame awards winner Selden Mast, (honorable mention Harken)   sheeting through an internal boom winches, LED hydraulic control panels and top down asymmetric sail furling systems (improved with latest carbon low twist stays) were aimed at the non-racers.

* For the racing sailboat community, technology continues to enter into the mix. Sail design software providers offer sail design simulation flow analysis to regular consumers, on board real time stress analysis. Electronic automatic sheet release systems, (if boat heels, pitches or a sheet is loaded up), lash type blocks, powered by miniature integral solar panels, which send load information via infared to computer, real time as well as inline load cells for line rigging. Technology related, but in a different way, are the different solar solutions, wind turbine, but also two “hydro electrical generating systems”.

One is big boat oriented allowing hybrid operation of their propeller. When the engine is not running, and while sailing, the propeller shaft reverse spins and generates electrical power stored in special batteries. A racing/cruising hydro-generator, installed on the transom is creating plenty of interest, and has seen action on different IMOCA race boats, as well as the “Le Penguin” in the Velux 5 Oceans race.

It is nice to see some honest "clean" efforts, (some products are thinly veiled lip service for marketing), to create products which are less damaging (bio-degradable oil) or the Dame winner for: “The Most Eco-Friendly Product, Officine Meccaniche Pejrani Srl for its Converter NV series of waste converters.

Of course personal bias against "conspicuous consumption" and self absorbed Super Yacht forum organizers, took a bump up, when I asked to have a look, showing them my press card. I got a nice glossy brochure and directions for the door. The Mets Organizers reported 2.2 % increase in visitors, an upbeat crowd, but what show doesn’t.

It is impossible to relate all the information, contacts etc which go on but most people say three days is enough. Actually, the first two days are full on, and by the third day, you can see the exhibitors are just hanging on before it is time to pack up and start going through the business cards. If you are ever looking for the most “bang for your buck” for your International marine business, the Mets is well worth considering.

Lyn Hines Marine Marketing