Boating NZ’s Andrew Howard was in the South of France with his partner Cary at the same time as the Cannes Yachting Festival, so naturally we asked them to pop over and take a look.

This boat show first started in 1977 in Cannes on the French Riviera. This year’s show was held between 12-17 September 2023, had over 540 boats on display, and included 30 world premieres for visitors to view and sea-trial.

Set across two quays, Vieux Port and Port Canto, connected by a free ferry service for visitors to the show, the festival is right in the centre of Cannes, near Nice, on the French Mediterranean coast. We chose to stay in Nice and used the very efficient train service to and from Cannes – the quays are only an eight-minute walk from the train station.

Whilst the show is called a ‘yachting festival’, it is really an ‘every type of boat possible’ show. On display were motorboats, sail boats, monohulls, multihulls, trailer boats and water toys. In addition, there were extensive displays of the latest equipment, marinas, marine services and marine accessories and interior fittings, as well as the work of marine architects and designers.

It is possible to see the whole show in one day, but to do it justice visitors need at least two days. During our time at the show we met up with various Kiwis. Some were there to order a new boat, others to explore the boating world. At the show we spent some time with the New Zealand teams from Orakei Marine and Ray White Marine, both helping out with their international partners’ exhibits, which were enormous.

With over 55,000 visitors this year, the Vieux Port accommodated about 50 smaller 5 – 12m boats on the water in
a new marina close to the RIBs, electric and hybrid boat displays. On the land, more than 90 equipment manufacturers exhibited alongside boatbuilders offering small to medium-sized vessels.


Port Canto had dedicated an area to display over 150 vessels between 10 and 30m in length, both power and sail. One highlight of the show was the ‘Start-Up Village’, which showcases innovation in the sector. This dedication to sharing new ideas and solutions was a highlight of the show for us, and we left wishing we had spent more time exploring this area.

As part of our visit, we were invited aboard the new M8 from Prestige by Erwin Bamps, President of Prestige Yachts. The power cat has an enormous 270m2 of living space, which includes 30m2 for a dedicated owner’s cabin. The 65-foot M8 has some impressive interior design aspects, but it also further demonstrates how the marine industry is tackling environmental issues through reduced energy consumption. Fuel consumption and carbon emissions are half those of most monohull vessels with comparable volume and range – this boat could travel from Auckland to Fiji on the standard fuel tanks.

Across many exhibits, there were numerous options available that reduce environmental impact, such as the use of new sustainable flooring, hemp fabric and fibre, bio-resins, plastic recycling, particle-scrubber filter solutions, rotor sails or turbo-sails, 100% electric or hybrid thermoelectric propulsion, solar power generation and even a surfboard made of seaweed. Such solutions are becoming mainstream considerations for many boat manufacturers – it’s great to see the widespread adoption of this approach.

If you are in the market for a new boat or think that you might be at some point in the next couple of years, this show is well worth the trip – with the added bonus that Cannes is a gorgeous holiday destination as well.