The size of the stands have been reduced, but the world's largest boat show is still very much afloat, insist organizers.

Boot Düsseldorf kicks off this weekend, with an expanded focus on small boats and water sports as a result of the economic downturn. Around 1,700 boats and yachts will be on display, but organizers are playing down big-bucks megayachts.

"Tighter fair budgets have resulted in the area of stands being reduced," said Düsseldorf spokesman Werner Matthias Dornscheidt. But, he says "only in a few cases have customers decided to do without a trade fair appearance in 2010."

Instead, they are aiming to pique interest in a more realistic growth area, lower budget water sports, diving and nautical equipment. This year, the show's focus will be much more on the "experiencing" aspect rather than the "buying" aspect for the quarter of a million visitors expected to visit. Organizers have set aside a dedicated 22,000 square meter hall for diving and a dedicated water pool for "Beach World," showcasing trendy sports such as kiteboarding, surfboarding, wakeboarding and water skiing.

"We want to make the entire range of water sports experienceable and encourage enthusiasm for them," said Düsseldorf director Goetz-Ulf Jungmichel, explaining the concept. "Particularly in economically difficult times, it is important to win over new target groups such as young families to maritime sport, and also to give new impulses and ideas to our regular visitors."

For visitors who aren't on a budget, boot Düsseldorf will still host some high profile unveilings, and will do so with some encouraging news from the recently-finished London International Boat Show - despite bad weather, many manufacturers reported strong sales. UK-based yacht makers Northshore and Fairline were among manufacturers who claimed to have beaten targets at the event.

Unveilings due at Düsseldorf range from large to small, and include the Elegance 68‘ (20.73 m) and Bandido 66‘ (20.60m) from German brand Drettmann, the compact Antares 30'S (10.22 m) from Beneteau and the Linssen Grand Sturdy 25.9 Sedan (8.2m) from Dutch brand Linssen. The largest yacht on display will be Drettmann's Elegance 122 RPH (38 m), complete with two-floor master suite, barbeque and oak and leather interior.

Boot Düsseldorf 2010 is open daily from 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM, January 23 - 31; day tickets cost €15.00 and two-day tickets €23.00.