The Yachtsman Report

50 Years boot Düsseldorf

Posted by Panos Touloupiadis on Jan 19, 2019 3:08:01 PM

"Yes, boot really is 50 years old, but it remains as young as ever."

Boot Düsseldorf is the biggest boat and water sports trade fair in the world and it is the place where the whole industry meets in January every year. This year, the exhibitors are presenting their interesting innovations, attractive new developments and maritime equipment from 19 to 27 January, with the nine-day exhibition covering 220,000 square meters in 16 different halls. There is something for every water sports enthusiast, with the main focus on boats and yachts, motors and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, all forms of watersports, diving, fishing, maritime art, marinas, beach resorts and chartering. 


Yes, boot really is 50 years old, but it remains as young as ever. Trend sports like surfing on the 1.50 m high and 9 m wide wave or diving in the new Dive Center help the water sports trade fair to stay in tune with the times. And the active spirit of boot Director Petros Michelidakis seems to be having an impact on each and every one of the 16 halls on the site. He explains: “We work the whole year round to make sure that boot is increasingly successful and is even more attractive and even better each year. The exhibitors at boot develop trends, present impressive innovations and highlight interesting premieres and new high-tech products. I am therefore expecting boot to have a very strong economic impact too in the coming year.”

But let’s take a look and see how it all began and remember some of the most memorable moments of the boot’s 50 years history:

A foggy day on Fischerstraße in Düsseldorf in November 1969: boot Düsseldorf’s success story is about to begin. Over the course of six exhibition days, 34,000 visitors flock into the hall and boot is launched. 116 exhibitors from seven nations participated. In those days, seeing boats in a trade fair hall was truly sensational. And only one year later, 183 companies from 25 countries participated, spread out over an exhibition space twice as big as the year before. The manufacturers’ demands also increased drastically in the following years. From the start, boot was a major attraction with high media attention value. 

In 1972, boot moved into the new, ultramodern exhibition center in the North of Düsseldorf, close to the airport. Since then, boot takes place every January. This makes it the first event of the year and the gateway trade fair to the new season. In 1972, the duration of the trade fair is extended to nine days, meaning it now spans two weekends, and exhibitors and visitors alike show the utmost respect for this change. Spread out over 50,000 square meters of exhibition space, 307 exhibiting companies from 41 countries welcome 85,751 (!) visitors at their booths. For the first time, a large regatta pool is built for the sailors. Children and beginners are able to test sailing in the hall.

"Canada was the first country-partner of boot."

Major countries are now starting to become partners of  boot. 1976 is the year the Olympic Games take place in Montreal, and also the year country partnerships are established. Canada is the first country to become a partner of boot.1977 sees boot partnered with Great Britain, a maritime nation with a long tradition, and boot makes another quantum leap to 208,000 visitors. After ten successful years, a rapid increase in visitor numbers and hall space, boot catches on to diving’s growing popularity. On the trade fair’s tenth anniversary, Hannover-based Preussag AG builds a diving tower for boot’s diving hall. This year, the partner country is Italy.


80’s is the decade when royal visitors honoured boot with their presence for the first time. In 1981, Denmark’s Prince Henrick represents his country at the trade fair. In 1985, Juan de Bourbon Conde de Barcelona, better known as the father of Juan Carlos, the king at the time, represents boot’s partner country Spain. Prince Harald, now King of Norway, represents the partner country in Düsseldorf in 1988.

"Melina Mercouri represents Greece as boot's partner"

Only one year before, in 1987 a touch of Hollywood glamour graces boot: Melina Mercouri, an actress and at the time acting Minister of Education and the Arts in Greece, represents boot’s partner country and launches the sailing yacht “Container” with which Udo Schütz will later win the Admiral’s Cup.

In 1991, Italy is boot’s partner country and gives the trade fair a particularly enchanting gift. The opening of the trade fair is sweetened by the incomparable sounds of the original violin of the legendary violinist Niccolò Paganini, from the museum in Genoa. With the Jongert 2900 S, a sailing yacht with a length of 29.40 meters and a weight of 90 tons reaches the trade fair for the first time.

"25th anniversary: Historic gift, respectable visitors"

The 25th anniversary of boot Düsseldorf is celebrated in style: The Principality of Monaco, known as the “small jewel on the Cote d’Azur”, is boot’s partner. Prince Rainier gifts the trade fair with a historic anchor dating back to the 18th century. The anchor still has a place of honor at the heart of the exhibition center on the roundabout in front of Hall 4. The “Aktuelle Sportstudio”, a weekly sports programme broadcast by German television channel ZDF, puts in a stop in Düsseldorf and brings along illustrious guests. Among them: Prince Albert of Monaco, who at the time is preparing for the Olympic bobsleigh competition in Lillehammer, Norway, surfing world champion Sabine Müller, and the winners of the 1993 Admiral’s Cup. The Olympic torch also takes a slight detour to visit Düsseldorf and brings Olympic greetings to the exhibitors in the halls. Hans Hass celebrates his 75th birthday at boot and his French rival, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, visits boot’s diving center for the first time.

1997 may not be an anniversary for boot, but it is for Messe Düsseldorf, which celebrates 50 years. And as the first trade fair to take place in the anniversary year, boot celebrates in style: Birthday boys and girls are given free admission along with one accompanying person, whilst Gran Canaria, surfing paradise and this year’s partner island, raffles off a Dehler sail boat worth 70,000.00 D-Marks. Once again, the trade fair focuses on its commitment towards the environment: boot hosts the kick-off event for the “Year of the Reef”. And the hall is reserved for the super yacht show for the first time, with many international participants. 

The 30th boot sees a special royal visit: Sweden is the partner country in 1999 and King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, who was educated at the Luisengymnasium in Düsseldorf, are the guests of honour. Hans Hass is on board once again and celebrates his 80th birthday in Düsseldorf.

 "Catwalk", the largest yacht ever to be exhibited in a hall."

“Catwalk”, which travels to Düsseldorf in 2006, is the largest yacht ever to be exhibited in a hall. The sleek kitten measures 41 meters and proves to be a true media attraction. At 93 years of age, Professor Bertold Beitz, chairman of the Krupp Foundation, is appointed boot’s honorary president. He has accompanied boot since 1969 and always actively promoted the trade fair. And once again, numerous celebrities are sighted in Düsseldorf: Sheik Hassan Al Thnai, brother of the ruler of Katar, TV host Frank Elstner, race driver Ralf Schumacher etc.

For the first time, classic and antique treasures are shown at boot. The Classic Forum is first held in Düsseldorf in 2007. The vintage boats offer a gorgeous contrast to the shiny, modern yachts. Around 150 conferences and events held during boot set a new record. And it’s time to celebrate another jubilee: boot Düsseldorf has now been around for four decades and still seems as fresh as on its first day. A changing of the guards also takes place at the top in 2009. Goetz-Ulf Jungmichel becomes boot’s new director.

", the new Internet community"

In 2015, boot says, “Welcome to”. The new, large Internet community offers up-to-date information on events around boot as well as on special offers for members. Besides reduced ticket prices, club members benefit from amazing offers all year round. With discounts for presentations held by the Ocean Film Tour, for houseboat charters or stylish diving outfits, membership in the is a great benefit and asset for passionate watersports fans. is an immediate success, already counting 30,000 members after boot 2015.


Changing of the guards at boot: The experienced trade fair man and passionate watersports fan Petros Michelidakis takes the wheel in 2016, succeeding Goezt-Ulf Jungmichel. For the first time in its history, boot breaks the record of 1,800 exhibitors. The new “Powerboat World” in Hall 4 showcases everything to do with racing boats. After visiting boot as an active Olympic icon in the 1990s, Prince Albert II of Monaco is now actively on board for marine conservation. In cooperation with Messe Düsseldorf and the German Ocean Foundation he offered the “ocean tribute” Award at the blue motion night. This is awarded in the categories society, science and industry for innovative ideas and products that protect our waters. With over 1,800 exhibitors from 70 countries, boot is more international than ever before.

"2019 - could the record be surpassed?"

2018 ends with a record-breaking result: 1,923 exhibitors from 68 countries attend, spread out over 220,000 square metres of exhibition space. The 16 halls bustled with 247,000 visitors from 102 countries. Let’s see if 2019 could become another record breaking year!



Photos: Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann

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