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Boat Show 2015 - Robert Blythe Interview PDF Print E-mail
Written by David   
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 18:12

Hong Kong Gold Coast Boat Show 2015 - Robert Blythe Interview

Goldcoastonline.hk is proud to present its readers with an exclusive interview with the man behind the Boat Show, Robert Blythe, General Manager of the Gold Coast Yacht & Country Club.
Robert Blythe
Robert Blythe, General Manager
of the Gold Coast Yacht & Country Club
Robert began his career in the early 80’s with the Royal Australian Navy where he trained as a chef. After leaving the R.A.N., he  joined  a merchant ship named MV Doulos as a volunteer in the position of chief cook.  At that time, the ship was the largest floating bookstore  in the world and also the oldest ocean going vessel still in service, as noted in the Guiness Book of records.

Travelling to over 20 countries and 80 plus ports, during his time on the ship as chief cook he was responsible for feeding 350 people 5 times per day.

In late 2003 Robert headed for Hong Kong. He quickly found his feet as executive chef for one of Hong Kong’s many clubs. During this time, Robert had the opportunity to move out of the kitchen and into management, a role which he was further developed in a variety of positions held over the years, including Club Manager of the Discovery Bay Marina Club and 8 years as General Manager of the prestigious Kowloon Cricket Club.

From Hong Kong Robert then headed to Bangkok where he assumed the position of General Manager at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club and associated Polo Club, where  the extensive facilities also included a horse race track, golf course and cricket ground.

Mid 2013 Robert arrived back in Hong Kong as General Manager of the Gold Coast Yacht & Country Club, the position which he holds today. With his professional background iin catering, hospitality and service, it is rumoured he still likes to indulge in the kitchen on rare occasions! 
GCO - Congratulations – the 15th consecutive Gold Coast Boat Show is about to start. How did the first show come about?
Information is sketchy about how the first boat show began at the club; however we do know that it started on 1st November 1996 as the “Gold Coast Boat & Watersport Fair”. The show consisted of a handful of onshore pleasure boat displays, a jet-ski display and a car show. In 2003 the event was renamed as the “Gold Coast Boat Show” and featured wet berth exhibitors, eight to nine onshore exhibitors, a children’s zone and jazz band as part of the festivities. The 2015 boat show is renamed the “Hong Kong Gold Coast Boat Show”, being the largest boat show in the region.

GCO - How does this show compare with the first show in terms of scale and numbers?

Again, the record of visitor numbers is scarce for those early years, though the 2002 show recorded at over 5000 visitors and in recent years the numbers have grown to on average 11-12,000 over the 2 day weekend. This year, with the show being held over the Labour Day weekend, making it a three day event and as we are always looking for new elements to add to the show we have introduced the Hong Kong Gold Coast Mystery Boat Charity Regatta to be held at the same time.  We expect to be very busy!

GCO - When do you start preparing for the next show?
For the 2015 show, we started planning in August 2014, thinking that this would give us plenty of time to prepare, though really, the most intensive period is the last couple of months leading up to the show. For the 2016 boat show we already have some new ideas in the pipeline. Official planning for 2016 will commence shortly after this year’s show.

GCO - How many companies participate in the show and how many boats are on display?
We’ll have over 70 local and international exhibitors, along with over 70 yachts, showcasing on the Marina and Club House surrounds.

GCO - What is the value of all the show exhibits?
This year, we’re displaying a range of boats, from affordable, fun weekend cruisers for under HKD$100,000 to the indulgent, pure luxury, of European mega yachts exceeding HKD$50 million – as the biggest boating event in the region, over HKD$1 billion dollars in boats and gear will be on display.

GCO - How many boats are sold at each show on average?
The exhibitors as a rule don’t share this information with us, though we do hear through industry resources. It is not unusual for 4 or 5 boats to be sold over the course of the weekend.

GCO - How does the Gold Coast Boat Show compare with other Asian boat shows?
The Hong Kong Gold Coast Boat Show is the region’s largest boat show. Like other yacht and boat shows in the region, we play an integral part in the development of the boating industry within  a circuit for international traders in South East Asia between Hong Kong & Singapore during the boat show seasons. This provides buyers with more options than ever before. The show itself promotes affordable luxury – meaning boat ownership and enjoyment is open to everyone, it just depends on budget, from the small weekender to the ultimate in luxury cruising.

The show is taking on more social elements which we have continued on in the 2015 Boat Show, incorporating an Opening Party on the eve of the boat show and exhibitors BBQ during the event. This year the Asian Boating Awards Dinner is being held in conjunction with the boat show, adding another facet to the weekend’s social activities.

GCO - As the organizer of the show what are the biggest problems you face when preparing for a new show?

Possibly the biggest problem we face currently is incorporation of the many new ideas we introduce in order to make the show larger and better for the exhibitors and visitors alike. This year, about a month before the show, we put a cap on new ideas and diverted them to the 2016 boat show.

GCO - With so many large and expensive boats and ancillary items on show the logistics for getting everything in the right place and on time must be quite a challenge?
The logistics of the show on water and onshore are very challenging and we are fortunate that our staff is quite capable and experienced in handling this. We know just how to squeeze an extra boat or exhibitor into the show. We have good support from Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel and Piazza during this time as well. 

GCO - There are quite a large number of live aboard boats moored in the Marina. How do the residents feel about the Boat Show?
Since the 2014 boat show we have made changes to incorporate the members into the show and be a part of it, after all it is their show in many aspects. Likewise with good communication with members helps the club to continue to run smoothly.

GCO - How do you manage to keep each new Boat Show fresh, so that people keep coming back?

We try to incorporate new elements every year to attract existing and new-comers.  New for this year is the charity factor – hosting the first Gold Coast Mystery Boat Charity Regatta to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Foundation. Teams joining this event will need to design and build a boat from mystery materials provided by the organizer, race around a course in the marina, hopefully staying afloat, whilst having fun and raising money for charity.
Already we have had good feedback from exhibitors who have made generous donations to the event, of which 100% of the monies raised will go to the charity. Interested parties may go to http://www.hkgcboatshow.com/charity/ for more information to participate through donation or entering a team.

GCO - How much interest is there in the show from the Mainland?
Yachting/boating has been a very popular pastime in Hong Kong for many years, with Greater China coming onto the scene relatively recently. The main reason we believe for this growth is the rise of disposable income levels on the mainland, though we are likely to see this slow to some degree due to the enforcement of certain policies by the Central Government.

GCO - Do you see a time when exhibitor demand outstrips available space in the Marina?

The growth of yachting/boating in the region has slowed considerably recently due to many factors, the main being, a lack of berthing spaces in Hong Kong. This being the case, we do not expect any real surge in exhibitor numbers in the near future

GCO - There is always a big influx of visitors from outside of this area for the show. Do you know how much it adds to the local economy?
Whilst we don’t have specific information to hand, we are sure that the show makes a considerable, positive impact on the local economy. Another aspect we are introducing to the show this year will be collecting data to assist us in planning for future shows. Using QR coding, just simply scan the relevant QR codes which will then take you to a website where you can input your comments.

GCO - Mr. Blythe, thank you very much for your time and extremely informative and interesting answers.
Last Updated on Friday, 29 May 2015 14:07
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