The 2021 Cannes Yachting Festival closed on 12 September following six days of nautical sales and celebration. Buoyed by the energy and enthusiasm of an industry eager to meet after a two-year absence, the event was delivered safely, securely and successfully, exceeding even the most ambitious expectations.
Since 1977, the Cannes Yachting Festival has been opening the international nautical season each September in luxurious and elegant style - its historic port and iconic bay the perfect backdrop to the annual on-water display of the world’s most sought after sailing, motor and superyachts. Five years ago, the festival celebrated its 40th anniversary with a fly past by the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows. In 2019, the sailing boats were moved to Port Canto (just across the bay of Cannes) allowing the sailing section to be enhanced. This in turn gave more space to the motor yachts in Vieux Port and extended the size of the show and the quality and variety of its international content, for the benefits of visitors and exhibitors. It broke all records for attendance. And then Covid-19 struck, causing the cancellation of last year’s event.
So, it was with a great sense of pride, and history, that the 2021 Cannes Yachting Festival became the first scale boat show in Europe to reopen for business since the start of the pandemic, bringing together 575 exhibitors, 620 boats (including 141 world previews) and 54,400 visitors. 50% of the attendees came from abroad, despite ongoing travel restrictions, and total visitor numbers were identical to those of the record-breaking 2019 edition. It felt good to be back.
For event director Sylvie Ernoult, her team, and the entire boating industry, it was a triumph of hope and determination over circumstance. “It was quite an emotional moment for me to take the microphone and declare the event open” she recalled. “This edition had represented a real challenge at every stage of its organisation. We constantly took new constraints into account, working closely with the Alpes-Maritimes prefect, the Grasse sub prefect and their departments, and the City of Cannes, all of whom I thank. The closer we got to opening, the more we felt the motivation, enthusiasm, and growing impatience of our exhibitors and visitors to meet up in Cannes again. It was an incredible edition to prepare, and one that I will never forget.”
"The closer we got to opening, the more we felt the motivation, enthusiasm, and growing impatience of our exhibitors and visitors to meet up in Cannes again. It was an incredible edition to prepare, and one that I will never forget."
Europe’s No.1 on-water boat show
Split between Cannes Vieux Port and Port Canto, Cannes Yachting Festival showcases anything and everything to do with life on the water, from sail boats, motor yachts, marine toys and luxury brands, to engines, equipment and nautical services. Being unique in allowing sea trials during the event, the festival is a prime destination for serious buyers looking to get a real feel for how the vessels handle. But it is also a place of pilgrimage for thousands of enthusiasts, and their families, who come to soak up the atmosphere and dream of what might be.
Dedicated entirely to motor yachts, the Vieux Port featured more than 480 boats ranging from 3- to 50-metre boats, many making their global debuts. Italian Ferretti Group showcased a fleet of 23 yachts including five world premieres on behalf of its Riva, Pershing, Ferretti Yachts and Wally brands. Reflecting on the company’s experience, Stefano de Vivo Chief Commercial Officer, said: “The 2021 edition of the Cannes Yachting Festival was amazing. The number of visitors was higher than expected and not only did we collect more contacts than in 2019, but they were also of a very high quality. The yachting industry is booming and Cannes is still the place to be, and the perfect platform to launch new products."
At the other end of Cannes’ famed Croisette, the new sailing boats were moored in Port Canto for the second consecutive edition. This dedicated space brought together 110 mono and multi-hulled boats from 10 to 35-metres, including 20 world previews. It was a magical setting, the festive “sailing” ambiance amplified by the chink of halyards and the sound of colourful pennants snapping in the breeze.
Nautor’s Swan, the Finnish producer of luxury sailing yachts, chose Cannes for three important debuts – The Swan 55, 58 and 98. “The sailing sector at Cannes Yachting Festival is very well organized putting together all the players in the industry, granting a great quality in terms of visitors and prospects” said Mariangela Barbato, Head of Communication & Events. French catamaran manufacturer STGI Aventura agreed, saying simply, “We’ve never experienced a show like this. We have sold a lot of boats.”
“The sailing sector at Cannes Yachting Festival is very well organized putting together all the players in the industry, granting a great quality in terms of visitors and prospects”
Charting a green course
In recent years, the nautical sector has started to wake up the consequences of its activities on the environment, but despite restrictive international rules aiming to protect marine habitats, change remains slow.
To encourage this eco-responsible transition, Cannes Yachting Festival introduced a new Green Route for 2021, directing visitors to more than 50 exhibitors (identified by a dedicated logo) who were presenting environmentally sustainable boats and equipment. In addition, for the first time in the history of the Yachting Festival, the Vieux Port dedicated a zone exclusively to fully electric and hybrid boats. And a new Innovation Space in Port Canto showcased several smart start-ups, including solutions focused on electric power, safety management and clean sanitation.
“We were delighted to welcome France’s Minister for the Sea, Annik Girardin to the Yachting Festival on 9 September, and during her tour of the show it’s no surprise that she spent much of her time in the innovation space and with ‘green’ exhibitors” said Sylvie. “Reconciling our nautical activities with a respect for the environment is top of her ministerial agenda, and is no longer a challenge that the industry can put off until tomorrow.”
Reflecting on their experience at the show, Michele Maggi, Founder and CEO of e-Motion Hybrid Systems said: "This was e-Motion's first show- although the global situation was challenging, we had a great show with solid contacts. We are proud to have participated in the Green Route and delighted the Yachting Festival shares our vision of encouraging marine sustainability."
The Yachting Festival is undertaking its own ecological transition by implementing new actions to reduce its environmental impact. Many documents which are usually printed were made paperless for the first time, such as the Yachting Festival tickets and official magazine. And recycled and or recyclable materials were used where possible, with recyclable carpet on the aisles and stands, recyclable signage, and recyclable cardboard furniture in the Press Village.
Safe and secure – on land, and on water
As Europe’s largest in-water boat show, held across two of Cannes’ ports, the Yachting Festival is always a huge logistical challenge. With the pandemic adding a whole new set of considerations to the mix, a series of measures were put in place to ensure the health, safety and peace of mind of all those attending.
Safety on and around the water has always been the No. 1 priority at Cannes and this year the team allocated a new area for sea trails on the far side of the Jetée. This reduced flows within the port area increased maritime security inside the port and offered fast and direct access to the open sea for exhibitors and their prospects.
Access to the Yachting Festival was allowed on condition of showing proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative test result. For the first time this year, the show ticketing system was fully digital, to minimise queues at the entrance, and reduce virus transmission. Every participant (exhibitors, visitors, professionals VIP and journalists) was invited to pre-register before attending with a valid e-ticket, either printed out or on their smartphone.
“Despite travelling still being an issue we were able to meet an international audience at the Festival, said Fabio Planamente, CEO de Pardo Yacht. “The quality was higher than 2019 and in terms of organization, including managing all of the sanitary checks, everything was perfect. We didn’t experience any issues for our staff or our customers.”
“We are fortunate that the Yachting Festival is largely held outdoors, reducing the opportunity for the virus to spread. Nevertheless, we worked tirelessly with the Cannes and regional authorities, in accordance with the all the relevant regulations, and RX’s own Global Health and Safety Strategy, to deliver a safe and stress free show experience” said Sylvie.
“A key part of the challenge was the all-important communication work of convincing visitors to come to Cannes on the understanding that it was safe to do so” she added. “On this, and every other aspect of delivering a safe and successful Festival, the team showed an incredible ‘can do’ attitude. It was an unforgettable experience for us all and I am so proud of what we achieved on behalf of our industry. Here’s to plain sailing in 2022!”
“On this, and every other aspect of delivering a safe and successful Festival, the team showed an incredible ‘can do’ attitude. It was an unforgettable experience for us all and I am so proud of what we achieved on behalf of our industry. Here’s to plain sailing in 2022!”
Thank you to our partners for enhancing the exhibitor and visitor experience
For the 2021 edition, the Cannes Yachting Festival was pleased to welcome several prestigious partners. Bentley Motors, through its new dealership Bentley Mougins, ensured the courtesy car service; Roche Bobois, the French furniture manufacturer, who signed the design of the VIP Club located in the Vieux Port; Mer Angels and BNP Paribas Banque Privée who both sponsored the Innovation Area; TheFloatingPenthouse, which hosted our VIP Club in Port Canto; and Pixelight who supplied the LED screens at the entrances of the show. These partners joined those already present at the Yachting Festival: Azur Hélicoptère, Dalloyau Paris, Louis Roederer, Marinepool, Suzuki, Wajer Yachts and Yamaha.