60 Years Interboot

International Aquatic Sports Exhibition celebrates milestone anniversary

Setting sail to explore 60 years of showcasing aquatic sports

July 29, 2021 | Friedrichshafen, Germany – Ever since Interboot was first held 60 years ago on October 6, 1962, it has been the site of countless unforgettable moments in aquatic sports history. This 60th anniversary year is an ideal occasion to look back at some important Interboot milestones. “Reaching the six-decade mark really underlines how important Interboot is in the four-country region,” remarked Klaus Wellmann, CEO of Messe Friedrichshafen. “So, this year, we want to pay tribute to this significance with a special anniversary edition of the trade show,” added Project Director Dirk Kreidenweiß. Visitors to this year’s colorful, 60th edition of Interboot will be invited on a journey through more than six decades of aquatic sports history.

1950 to 1961: IBO, the precursor to the boat show

Ships and boats are first exhibited at the IBO consumer fair back in 1950. While not strictly a boat show, the IBO lays the foundation for Interboot.  The exhibition space is located in Friedrichshafen between Pestalozzischule and today's Graf Zeppelin Gymnasium. As early as 1951, the Brunnert-Grimm company from Gottlieben, Switzerland, presents its boats at the IBO and goes on to remain loyal to the Friedrichshafen exhibition site for over six decades.

1962: First aquatic sports exhibition in Friedrichshafen

Over the years, the variety of boats being displayed at the IBO grows steadily, until the subject gains its own platform, the “International Boat Show on Lake Constance”, first held on October 6-14, 1962. Of the 94 initial exhibitors, 40 are from outside of Germany. Following relocation in 1954, the exhibition grounds are located in Riedlepark in the west of Friedrichshafen. 

The aquatic show is the first of its kind to be held in the autumn. Its end-of-season dates thus become the subject of much discussion in professional circles. It soon becomes apparent that the timing is perfectly suited to the manufacturers’ working rhythm, and the exhibition thus becomes the industry’s most important economic barometer. A further special feature is the demo harbor on Lake Constance. Until 1991, Friedrichshafen’s exhibition grounds are the only venue in Germany to host an aquatic sports exhibition with an integrated harbor, so potential customers can test drive the boats prior to purchase.

In 1962, the focus is on motorboats, with visitors showing a keen interest in the latest technology. One of the highlights of the first aquatic sports exhibition is the first sports boat application of a revolutionary Wankel engine equipped with a Star-Jet turbo drive. Despite the low height of the halls’ ceilings, full-size sailboats are accommodated by removing ceiling panels, thus allowing their masts to reach the sky.   

The key initiators of the show are boat builder Walter Boesch of Zurich, Heinz Flücht, editor-in-chief of Das Motorboot (now titled Skipper), and Otto P.W. Hüni, manufacturer and then-shareholder of Messe Friedrichshafen.

1963: Aquatic sports show is named Interboot for the first time

Having been a great success thus far, the aquatic sports show begins a new chapter with a new name – Interboot – and a sharp rise in its number of exhibitors.

1964: Boating accessories gain in significance

Whereas in 1962 the focus was primarily on sailboats, motorboats and engines, Interboot now develops into a major marketplace for boating accessories, as well, showcasing everything from boat fittings to water skis and aquatic sports clothing. 

1967: Interboot becomes a trendsetter

Interboot is the first boat show to feature a computer that enables visitors to search for the right boat by entering a price, size, and other desired characteristics and then receive the corresponding hall and stand number.

“Your mooring is my trunk”. With berths for sailboats and motorboats in short supply on Lake Constance, the demand for inflatable boats is booming. To cope with the berth shortage, another floating pier is added to Interboot Harbor.

1968: Interboot gets more exhibition space 

Due to the relocation of the exhibition company to the site on Meisterhofener Straße, Interboot's exhibition area increases to 20,000 sq m (about 215,000 sq ft) in four halls plus an outdoor exhibition area. The demo harbor’s area is also doubled.

1973: Mediterranean Center opens

The Mediterranean Center opens its doors and is subsequently expanded in 1999 to become the Maritime Travel Marketplace featuring a forum on charter tours. In 1973, visitors can find out about maritime travel providers and the Mediterranean countries for the first time. This is an important milestone for Italian exhibitors, whose number more than doubles in subsequent years. By 1986, the contingent of exhibitors from Italy becomes the largest of any nation outside Germany, ahead of Switzerland.

1974/1975: Windsurfing and diving take center stage

At the 13th Interboot in 1974, windsurfing is included for the first time. In the following year, diving is added to the program in the form of an information day titled ‘Diving in the Mediterranean’. In 1989, a diving center featuring a demonstration stage is added, along with surfing accessories.

1976: Swiss exhibitors get their own pavilion

Interboot strengthens its relationship with its Swiss neighbors by adding ‘Pavillon Suisse’, a pavilion reserved for Swiss exhibitors which later becomes the Suisse@Interboot platform.

1983: Intersurf conquers Interboot

Another aquatic sport makes its debut at Interboot. A new area called Intersurf is opened in one of the halls and features a windsurfing film competition and a demo pool for children to give the sport a try. The area is later expanded to include a large show stage and a beach fashion show. In 1988, Jim Drake, one of the first inventors of the windsurfing board, 

1985: Winning sailing yachts of the Admiral’s Cup at Interboot

The Interboot-sponsored team of the German Sailing Association wins the Admiral’s Cup – the then-unofficial world championship of ocean sailing – and attends Interboot with the famous cup and three yachts to celebrate their victory. 

1986: Interboot adds the Caribbean to its repertoire

Interboot demonstrates its trendsetter status by drawing the attention of Mediterranean Center visitors to a still relatively unknown year-round aquatic sports region: the Caribbean. In 1990, the show partners with Lufthansa and KH&P Yachtcharter to organize the Fun Regatta Caribbean Trophy for participants with and without sailing experience.   

1991: Interboot Sailing Center opens

Interboot houses its Sailing Center within a genuine circus tent of the exhibition grounds. Here, visitors can receive high-quality, professional sales-free sailing advice. In 1996, the Sailing Center is transformed into a harbor setting with wooden boathouses and jetties on a harbor basin.

1992: Interboot adds an aquatic sports arena

A new Aquatic Sports Arena with spectator stands is built on the exhibition grounds to host match-race sailing competitions for miniature model boats. In the ensuing years, the facility also becomes the venue for surfing demos and water ski shows, as well as Optimist and ‘Teenie’ regattas. The demonstration harbor is upgraded with the addition of a sailing competition for club teams, as well as the Youth Cup for 420 dinghies.

2001: Final exhibition held on former site

In its 40th year, Interboot takes place for the last time on the Meisterhofener Straße site. Dirk Kreidenweiß, the current project director, also makes his debut. An inclusive 2.4-meter sailing program for challenged children, which is still popular today, is held for the first time.

2002: Promoting young talent at Interboot

The new exhibition center is also tailored to Interboot. Halls A1 and A3 are built higher to accommodate the sailing yacht masts. The first show in the new halls features the Intersurf Chill Area, a meeting place for the surfing scene. Interboot organizes a youth camp to introduce youngsters to aquatic sports.

Visitors are also invited to enjoy a ‘sundowner’ at Interboot Harbor until an hour after the show has closed for the day. At the ‘Steig ein (Hop on!) Festival’, visitors are taken out for rides in motorboats of every type.

2004: Women in aquatic sports

Interboot focuses on women in aquatic sports. Avid powerboater and actress Christine Neubauer attends the opening. Also new is the Aqua Fun Award, with which Interboot honors individuals for their commitment to working with youth and developing new generations of aquatic sportspeople.

2005: The year of new sporting events

Interboot Harbor attracts great interest with several new sporting events – including spectacular powerboat duels of the Liquid Quarter Mile race, and the world’s elite female match-race sailors vying for the Ladies Match Cup. At the Qualifier Match Race Germany event, the men seek to qualify for Match Race Germany, while at the German Team Challenge, international 14-footer races are held directly along the waterfront promenade. To this day, a big attraction is the Interboot Trophy regatta featuring various classes of solo-sailor races. 

2007: Operation Blue

Together with leading engine manufacturers, Interboot launches Operation Blue. Twenty inflatable boats are made available to visitors to take to the water free of charge and without a license so that they can discover the fun of aquatic sports. For the first time, Interboot Harbor is open to all at no charge.

In 2007, Interboot brings a piece of America's Cup history to Friedrichshafen. In the open-air area, visitors get a look at the decks, the 33-meter-high masts, and the high-tech equipment of two challenger yachts.

The joint Suisse@interboot stand occupying 500 sq m (about 5400 sq ft) of floorspace, celebrates its opening.

2009: Electric propulsion on the rise

Electrically powered boats signal technical progress in the boatbuilding sector.  Exhibitors such as Boesch, Rapp, Pro Nautik, and Thoma demonstrate at Interboot that the pleasure of traveling in boats with alternative propulsion systems comes from their combination of power, speed and quietness. The world premiere of the Greenline 33 Hybrid Solar makes headlines throughout Germany.

2010: Spotlight on wakeboarders

What started in 2009 with a wakeboard show event and a wakeboarding facility with demonstrations on Lake Constance grows in 2010 to include a ‘cash-for-tricks’ competition between eight top wakeboarders. Visitors are also invited to test their talents at the facility.

2011: Interboot aquatic sports show turns 50

The Diving Center attracts visitors with panoramic underwater cinema, photo workshops with David Benz, and demonstrations. Interboot looks back on 50 years of aquatic sports with a special show. Special thanks go to those exhibitors that have participated in the event all along since 1962: Boesch Motorboote and Brunnert Grimm from Switzerland, Schöchl Yachtbau from Austria, Delius Klasing Verlag, the Association of Lake Constance Boatyards of Baden-Württemberg, and the Lake Constance Water Police.

2014: SUP Team Challenge celebrates its debut

For the first time, teams of two compete on a skill-testing course in the SUP test basin. The duo that masters the course the fastest wins attractive prizes, such as entry in the British Virgin Islands SUP Challenge.

2016: Stationary wave attracts boarding fans

Surf-Days at Interboot features the first stationary wave to appear in a European exhibition hall. Suitable for beginners and pros alike, the five-meter-wide wave means that no one has to wait until their next seaside vacation to hit the surf.

2019: Interboot raises environmental awareness

A special exhibition titled #ReThinkPlastic draws attention to the problem of plastic waste pollution in aquatic sports settings and highlights the need to protect the world’s oceans.

2020: Truly one of a kind

Thanks to a sophisticated public sanitation concept, the Special Edition of Interboot will be one of the few aquatic sports trade shows in the world to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interboot will present the entire world of aquatic sports from Saturday, September 18 to Sunday, September 26, 2021, Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are available exclusively online. Day passes cost 13 euros; the reduced rate is 10 euros. A family pass is available for 29 euros. Children between the ages of six and fourteen pay 5 euros. For further details, visit www.interboot.dewww.facebook.de/interboot,  www.instagram.com/interboot.friedrichshafen, or look for #interboot on Twitter.

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