Opening Day at the Taiwan International Boat Show
They really know how to do it right, starting with a huge room packed with media from all over the world that had come to be part of the Opening Ceremony. They also provided those of us who don’t speak Chinese with a pocket transistor radio linked to a real time translation of all the speeches. There were over 200 people in there including a high ranking Minister from the Cabinet, The Mayor of Kaohsiung, The Deputy Mayor, several Senators and Representatives, the Head of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council and the Chairman of the Taiwan Yacht Industry Association. And they were justifiably proud of what they had pulled off getting this entire project to fruition and they had done it in less than two years. Sure they’ve been building boats in Taiwan for a much longer period of time (like thousands of years) and in the “modern” era for the last 40+ years, but this was their first boat show. They built this brand new 700,000 sq ft Exhibition and Conference Center with the goal of having this be the largest indoor yacht show in Asia and they absolutely succeeded. They got 168 exhibitors who took 860 booths and brought in over 60 yachts. They’re putting on over 200 seminars and educational programs for the expected 30,000 visitors and 1,000 buyers. The mayor expects this show to generate an addition $166million to the economy of Kaohsiung.
The other point that was made repeatedly was the cooperation that it took between the different branches of government to pull this off and how much everyone appreciated just how much business this Boat Show would bring to not only the City of Kaohsiung but the Island of Taiwan as well. This sounds so much like the City of Ft. Lauderdale and even though they are ten’s of thousands of miles apart they’ve figured out what a huge economic benefit boat shows can be. Wouldn’t it be great if the City of Seattle would do the same, and instead of being adversarial would become just a bit more cooperative. Just a thought.
Back to the Boat Show.
Next on the agenda was a sea trial on the brand new Horizon AC80 Power Catamaran which basically meant a quick 40-minute tour of the Port of Kaohsiung passing by the Horizon Boat Yard. This the first sea trial I’ve ever been on that included champagne and 15 year old Macallan single malt scotch, it was an ugly job….
After lunch we had a tour of all of the Horizon Yachts in the Show conducted by the Group CEO of Horizon, John Lu. This included the largest boat in the Show the Horizon RP110, the Horizon E88 (the one on display at the In-The-Water site was sold to a Seattle customer just this morning), the Horizon E56, and the new Nimbus 335 Coupe. The new Nimbus line was particularly interesting in that this was Horizons response to recent legislation in Taiwan that now allows recreational boating. You read that correctly, prior to this private recreational boating wasn’t allowed in Taiwan because of the ongoing conflict with mainland China which is only 100 miles away across the Straits of Formosa. While that conflict has not been settled, China has decided there are other ways to deal with Taiwan. The result is the opening on an entirely new, entry level market for boats in Taiwan and as always, Horizon is all over it.
Our next stop was one of the few builders not located in Kaohsiung, Tachou Ship Building who builds just outside of the capital, Taipei. We met with General Manager, Julia Chen who explained their philosophy and took us through their 40-knot power yacht which, while not new, had just completed a voyage from Okinawa to Taipei so Tachou could update the power package from twin 1500HP to twin 2000HP engines. Also in the booth was their answer to the new entry level sailboat, the Ideal 18 which they are licensed to build for the Asian market.
The last tour of the day was of Kha Shing Enterprises known for building the Hargrave and Monte Fino lines of mega yachts. On display at the Show were their two new entries into the yacht market, the Monte Fino 45 Sport Fishing Power Catamaran in two configurations, and the Belize 54 Sedan which takes this size of vessel to entirely new level of finish.
So much for day one.