5 days in the life of ...

The managing director of Sunseeker Sales reflects on life at the Boat Show
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Indy Lifestyle Online
MONDAY: Worked out that I've spent one and a half years of my life at Earl's Court - I'm 52 now and I've been in the marine industry over 35 years.

The London Boat Show is one of ten or so on the circuit worldwide: we were in Genoa in October, London now, next it's Dusseldorf, then Miami, Istanbul, Monte Carlo.

We have to bring the boats in late at night; they need substantial cranes so they don't fall through the floor and end up in the London Underground. It's like building a rock 'n' roll stage: our stand might have 300-500 people on it during the day. There are 30 of us working on it, with two ladies who prepare food for us all.

The show opens at 10am, but we have a sales meeting at nine. It's extremely quiet for first hour, a nice lull, then all hell is let loose - a non-stop roundabout. Suddenly you get a family you met four years ago in Majorca who want to tell you all about their boat, then the celebrities arrive. Then there's the serious side: businessmen who might not look as if they could afford a boat - casual jeans, worn-out shirt - but these days they are as likely to buy as anyone.

Eight boats sold today. One of our dealers went home and had a heart attack. We sent him a card.

TUESDAY: People have to take their shoes off when they go on board, and, of course, one lady got off and found someone had gone off wearing her shoes.

There are always people you have to be discreet about. One client said, if his wife asked, we were to say the boat he was buying was three years old, not new, and that it cost pounds 450,000, not pounds 650,000.

Back in the Sixties 20 feet was the biggest boat, now we're up to 80 feet. New tech has made it possible for people who aren't navigation experts to understand where they are and where they're going, and when they are going to get there. Our boats cost anything from pounds 180,000 to pounds 2m. But there's an open-house policy, so anyone can come and look whether they're rich or just want to dream.

WEDNESDAY: Good news for us, we had customers from all over the world and a lot of sales: somewhere between 15 and 30.

We're recession-proof at this end of the market. There are always going to be people with enough money to want to buy boats like these. On the whole they're wealthy but they work extremely hard and want their leisure time. Also, with the technology, it's possible for people to be aboard and still working, communicating by fax etc.

The show started on 8 January, and since then we've hardly seen daylight. We're here by 7.30am to clean the stage and, although the show closes at 7pm, we rarely leave before 10. It's a glamorous world, but it's all about hard work. I've arrived in sunshine and left in deep snow and had no idea the weather has changed.

THURSDAY: The dealers had a meeting to discuss the show so far; we're already working on boats to be delivered in two years' time. Heard that two of our boats which were being sailed to Dusseldorf for the show next week had arrived safely.

Nigel Mansell spent some time with us - he owns a Sunseeker boat - and Uri Geller and Peter Andre.

Had a conman who claimed he owned one of the big computer firms. He said he had villas dotted around the world, but it proved to be an ego trip. You get that. Last year it was someone saying they were Kashoggi's son.

FRIDAY: Paul Daniels arrived. There was a dog running around the exhibition and everyone was looking for it because the organisers don't allow dogs in. Daniels was asked to spirit it to us. Rick Parfitt from Status Quo and Peter Stringfellow dropped by.

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