Organising the Cannes Yachting Festival is rarely smooth sailing, but these past months have brought the team close to 12 on the Beaufort scale!

Three years ago, Cannes Yachting Festival celebrated its 40th anniversary in memorable style, including a fly past by the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows. This year, all being well, the team will be celebrating the very fact of opening the doors on 8 September, following a government announcement on 27 July that major events may go ahead in France from 1 September.  

Traditionally the first show on the nautical calendar, Cannes Yachting Festival will be the first event on an international scale to reopen in the post-lockdown period. As Europe’s largest in-water yacht show, held across two of Cannes’ ports, the festival is always a logistical challenge; but COVID has added a whole new set of considerations to the mix. One advantage they do have, however, is that the festival is largely held outdoors.

Over the past few months Show Director Sylvie Ernoult and her team have been in intensive discussions with their clients, the City of Cannes, partners and suppliers and have now reached the final stretch before opening.

“We have adapted the festival format and content to best cater to our exhibitors’ needs in terms of space and budget constraints, and the new health standards” says Sylvie. “The industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and as show organisers it is our job to support suppliers by providing an event to promote and sell their products. Thanks to the loyalty of our exhibitors, and the commitment of all the stakeholders involved, we are confident in delivering a safe and successful event.”

A ‘Safe and Clean’ event

Held over 6 days, from 8 to 13 September, this year’s festival will welcome some 400 motor boats and sailing yachts ranging from 3 to 43 metres. The exhibitors include almost all the major players in the French and international nautical industry.

In the unique context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the boats and stands will be installed in accordance with a General Health and Safety Plan (PGSS) drawn up by the team and presented to the Prefecture, the City of Cannes and suppliers. This plan is based on the health measures recommended by UNIMEV (the professional federation of the events industry) and presented to the government, and the safeguarding framework that RX Global has produced for all its trade shows internationally.

On the basis of this PGSS, Cannes Yachting Festival is the first event to have obtained the new ‘Safe and Clean’ certification from Apave, attesting that all health measures in the light of the risks associated with COVID-19 have been properly implemented to safeguard exhibitors and visitors.

“A point of contact has been appointed to check that the health protocol is implemented correctly before and during the event” says Sylvie. “This protocol includes flow management, festival entrances, hand sanitiser distribution, the wearing of masks, constant cleaning of common areas and more. It will, of course, be adjusted as and when necessary in line with measures the French government may decide on with regards to trade fairs.

Depending on the physical social distancing rules in force in late August/early September, the event layout may be partially rearranged before opening. “Some aisles may be expanded into additional areas provided by the City of Cannes. Several different scenarios are in place for adapting the configuration of the event” explains Sylvie. “In the meantime, we continue with the all-important communication work of convincing visitors to come to Cannes on the understanding that it is safe to do so. We may have reduced sail somewhat for our 2020 edition but we can’t wait to welcome the industry on 8 September!”