A foggy day on Fischerstraße in Düsseldorf in November 1969: boot Düsseldorf’s success story of the boot is about to begin. Over the course of six exhibition days, 34,000 visitors flock into the hall and boot is launched. Trade fair manager Kurt Schoop landed a real coup by getting experienced boat journalist Horst Schlichting on board and founding the first inland boat trade fair. All of 116 exhibitors from seven nations participated, but Citizens od Düsseldorf were enthusiastic about the offer at “their” NOWEA (Nordwestdeutsche Ausstellungsgesellschaft - North-West-German Exhibiting Company), as the Messe Düsseldorf used to be called. 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 medial attention value. In its second year, North Rhine-Westfalia’s Minister of the Interior, Willi Meyer, became boot’s patron.
In 1972, boot moved into the new, ultramodern exhibition centre in the North of Düsseldorf, close to the airport. Since then, boot has taken 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 metres 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.
boot proves to be a real trendsetter and presents the first surfboards at the trade fair in 1973.
In 1974, boot discovers just how attractive summer regattas can be and the partnership with the traditional Travemünde Week begins.
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 maitime nation with a long tradition, and boot makes another quantum leap to 208,000 visitors.
After ten successful boot 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.
In 1980, Big Willy moves into the exhibition centre. From now on, the trade fair’s strongest “colleague” carries out boot’s crane lift-out. The huge, orange crane may weigh a mere 84 tons, yet it lifts boats of up to 100 tons out of the Rhine’s turbulent waters.
In 1981, boot is honoured by royal visitors for the first time: Denmark’s Prince Henrick represents his country at the trade fair.
With “boot Düsseldorf – Ahoi”, boot gets its own song in 1983. Günter Bockelmann, “Bremerhaven’s Hein Mück (the boy with the accordion)”, composed the sailor’s shanty and performed it when it premiered on the Passat, a four-masted barque, at the Travemünde Week in 1983. The song is released as a single on vinyl in time for boot 1984.
In 1985, royals visit boot for the second time: 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.
A touch of Hollywood glamour graces boot in 1987: 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.
And yet again, a high-ranking royal visits boot: Prince Harald, now King of Norway, represents the partner country in Düsseldorf in 1988.
Meanwhile, the diving scene feels quite at home in Düsseldorf and the pioneer of diving films and aquanaut Hans Hass celebrates his 70th birthday on boot’s 20th anniversary in 1989. boot’s commitment towards the environment begins. For the first time, the Willi Weyer Prize for Environmental Protection is awarded, endowed with 28,000.00 Deutsch Marks. This year, the partner country is Austria. Iconic TV host Hans-Joachim Kuhlenkampf, Austrian by choice, is a guest at the trade fair and famous Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser uses a gaff sail as a canvas for boot. This is then auctioned off for 50,000.00 D-Marks during the trade fair. The proceeds are donated to the UNESCO-Wadden Sea World Heritage Visitor Centre in Wilhelmshaven, which was co-founded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). WWF’s founding president, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, personally accepts the donation cheque.
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 metres and a weight of 90 tons reaches the trade fair for the first time.
And once again, there is blue blood in Düsseldorf: The Queen’s third-eldest son, Prince Edward, represents the partner country in 1992. This is now the second time Great Britain has been a partner of boot. After their last circumnavigation of the globe, Rollo Gebhardt and Angelika Zilcher present their “Solveig IV” and fight to save the dolphins in a large media campaign. This is a milestone for events promoting environment and marine protection at boot.
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 honour at the heart of the exhibition centre 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 centre for the first time.
In 1995, boot turns into a true celebrity meeting point, which lends the trade fair a touch of glamour and increases its popularity: King Albert II of Belgium attempts to visit boot incognito but, of course, is recognised. In the end, he quite enjoys the photos of his visit. Sailing author Jimmy Cornell presents his bestselling “World Cruising Routes”. Circumnavigators Wilffried Erdmann, Rollo Gebhardt and Burghard Pieske are in attendance, as are world-class surfers and stars of the scene, Robby Naish and Björn Dunkerbeck. Michael Groß, Germany’s best swimmer, is on board as well, joined by German comedian Dieter Krebs and the Schlager music stars Heino and Howard Carpendale.
For the first time in 1996, the two states Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, both popular for their watersports offers, are partners of boot. This year, the trade fair achieves record results wtih 1,607 exhibitors. And the Belgian king once more visits as an ordinary guest.
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. In the run up to the Olympic Games in Sydney, an official cooperation is struck between the German Association of the Plastics Industry, the German Sailing Association and the German Rowing Association.
Using the slogan “The seven seas – our legacy for the future”, another interesting environmental topic, Lisbon joins EXPO 98 as a partner to boot in the “Year of the Oceans”. Seven large yachts, all longer than 25 metres, make their way to Düsseldorf. The largest among them is legendary “Golden Eye” with 35.5 metres. Whilst attempting to lift her out of the Rhine, Big Willi’s straps tears and the luxury yacht drops to the ground from a height of 60 centimetres. Equipped with new straps, “Golden Eye” is lifted out of the water an hour later and a heavy-lood transporter takes her to the hall. A hall full of super yachts is enticing: Besides numerous celebrities from the worlds of sailing, diving and surfing, Prince Souheil Bin El-Maktum and Sheik Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan from the United Arab Emirates also come to visit boot.
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.
In the new millennium, boot becomes immensely athletic: The Olympic Games in Sydney are approaching, and boot can’t wait. An Olympic centre is created in cooperation with the plastics industry, which supplies the material for the construction of sailing and rowing boats. In North Rhine-Westfalia, school children can take part in the project “Traumstart 2000”, sponsored by German television channel WDR, municipal savings banks and boot. (The project’s name translates to “The ideal start to 2000”) 3,000 children capture and enter their dreams and fantasies in pictures, stories and poems. Thanks to the children’s commitment, the savings banks are able to donate a generous cheque over 50,000.00 D-Marks to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for a project in Kosovo. The star among the yachts is a Jongert motor glider with a folding keel that is 34 metres long and weighs 125 tons.
In 2001, the luxury yachts move into Hall 6, a new hall flooded with light that instantly impresses the experts. Numerous Paralympic and Olympic watersports athletes attend the launch on opening day. Once again, two large yachts of more than 30 metres are on board. These are the Croatian motor glider “Dat Helja” and the French motor yacht “Mangusta”, measuring 34.85 m and 33.5 m respectively.
In 2002, Messe Düsseldorf extends their service facilities for visitors. The canoe forum is added, as are the centres for beginners and sports fishers. Besides well-known watersports celebrities, King Albert attends boot, this time accompanied by his brother Lorenz, and chanson-singer Udo Jürgens also drops by.
In 2003, weather conditions prove particularly difficult. The Rhine floods its banks so extremely that the river is closed for several days. Some large yachts can no longer reach the trade fair on time. For the first time in boot’s history, all 17 halls are occupied. As in previous years, Düsseldorf’s Lord Mayor, Joachim Erwin, opens boot.
Erratic weather conditions: After the floods of the past year, the Rhine has an extremely low level in 2004. Despite this, all large yachts reach the exhibition centre on time, assisted by pontoons and pushers. Wolfgang Clement, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, opens the trade fair. Once again, this year’s royal guest is a Belgian, Prince Laurent. And Olympic champion and canoe legend Birgit Fischer also comes aboard. At the visitor’s tunnel, the Tourism Association Mecklenburg-Vorpommern hangs a 210 metre long panoramic photo which reaches from the high-rise building to the North entrance and makes it into the Guiness Book of Records. As CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, Werner M. Dornscheidt is now responsible for boot for the first time.
LTU, boot’s partner in 2005 and at that time also the sponsor of the LTU Arena, provides musical highlights with performances by Heino, Guido Horn and Peter Maffay. Other celebrity visitors at boot are former Formula 1 race driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, canoeist Birgit Fischer, high jumper Heike Henkel and North Rhine-Westfalia’s Minister President Peer Steinbrück.
“Catwalk”, which travels to Düsseldorf in 2006, is the largest yacht ever to be exhibited in a hall. The sleek kitten measures 41 metres 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, radio legend Manni Breukmann and soccer anchorman Ulli Potofski.
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. Among them is “boot meets school”, a new campaign for schools in Düsseldorf, organized by boot. Over 700 pupils are given insight into the world of watersports.
In the run up to the Olympic Games, Qingdao, China attends boot in 2008. A record-breaking 43 yachts travel up the Rhine to the trade fair under their own power. Düsseldorf’s traditional football club Fortuna shows up to the friendly match against FC Bayern Munich wearing the boot logo for the first time. Another exciting competition is provided by the world champions in underwater rugby. “Mr. Boot” director Abdul-Rahman Adib retires after 30 years of running boot.
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.
boot gives a panoramic view: “Experience 360° of watersports” is the new trade fair theme in 2010. Visitors can dive into the world of watersports in 14 new theme worlds. The Beach World is expanded to include the new sports stand-up paddling and skimboarding. A second pool is added to the Diving Center. The maritime class room for pupils, organised by employees of Düsseldorf’s Aquazoo Löbbecke Museum, familiarises children with the ocean as a natural habitat. Captain’s Day focuses on promoting young athletes. Among the celebrity supporters are renowned former top athletes such as long jumper Ulrike Nasse-Meyfarth, high jumper Heike Henkel and swimmer Christian Keller.
2011 illustrates the industry’s current mood: This is reflected in the high demand for booth spaces. Trade fair manager Dornscheidt says, “Trust in the industry has been restored. As the central European exhibition centre for boat and watersports, boot benefits from this in particular.” Visitors can now use the new eTicket system to print their tickets in the comfort of their own homes and purchase them at a lower price compared to the ticket price on the day. The Underwater Pixel World for underwater photography and filming debuts this year.
In 2012, 40 large yachts are expected at boot, 30 of which travel up the Rhine under their own power. “Experience 360° watersports” is extended to include the World of Paddling. Now, river course that is 90 metres long, three metres wide and 40 centimetres deep winds its way through a rocky landscape and flows into two large lakes. Visitors are impressed by this new canoe run. The Diving Center is also given a new pool, which allows more sportive diving. Since 2012, the multihull boat offer has also been increasing continuously. A seventeen-year-old windsurfing talent is “Surfer of the year” and makes a name for himself, nationally and internationally: Philipp Köster wins the the world championship title and becomes a celebrated media star. And the canoe world champions unveil their fleet for the Olympic Games in London at boot.
“Mobile watersports” is a new theme world at boot 2013, focussing on the new 15 hp regulation in Germany: Starting from this year’s watersports season, boats with a motorization of up to 15 hp can be steered without a license. Action and outdoor cameras are trending. boot reacts to this and expands its offer in the “Water Pixel World”. Once again, the 40 large yachts make their way into Hall 6, home of the luxury yachts. The longest yacht, with a length of 30 metres, is brought to Düsseldorf by the Princess shipyard in Plymouth.
Boating without a license significantly spurred the market for small boats and motors in 2014 as well. The addition of the “Refit Center”, where tinkerers receive tips and suggestions for maintaining and increasing the value of their boats, and the “boot sailing school” increases the number of theme worlds at the trade fair to 18. Meanwhile, Philipp Köster has established himself in the surfing scene and is voted “Surfer of the year” for the third time. For the first time, the boot’s logo glows at the heart of the “Wheel of Vision” Ferris wheel on the banks of the Rhine in Düsseldorf.
In 2015, boot says, “Welcome to boot.club”. 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 boot.club is a great benefit and asset for passionate watersports fans. boot.club is an immediate success, already counting 30,000 members after boot 2015. boot 2015 also welcomes celebrity guests: well-known British ocean activist Emily Penn and Austrian rock singer Christina Stürmer.
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. In Hall 6, blue motion night attracts celebrity guests, among them, former race driver Jochen Mass, powerboat athlete Roger Klüh, TV host Pangiota Petridou, actor Götz Otto, professional soccer player David Odonkor and model Alessandra Meyer-Wölden.
Surfing sensation at boot 2017: For the first time, indoor-surfing is offered at a watersports trade fair. “THE WAVE” is the name of the game. Nine metres wide and 1.5 metres high, the wave attracts professional surfers and those who want to be. And boot has a new advertising campaign to match: „Play Now“. The new campaign is full of action, is authentic and shows both an honest, emotional and excited attitude towards life as well as a relaxing holiday atmosphere. 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.
In 2018, the Beach World moves into airy, light Hall 8a. THE WAVE and the flat water pool, now extended to 65 metres, are together in one hall for the first time. Set against a fantastic surfing scenery, they offer pure action. Tow-In Windsurfing debuts with spectacular jumps. The Dive Center is resplendent in its new design. The heart of Hall 3 now looks like a true pacific diving base with bamboo huts and palm trees. Marine protection is the trade fair’s hot topic. The “ocean tribute” Award is offered at the blue motion night. The winners are: Friedrich J. Deimann in the industry category for developing Green Boats. Made with modern and sustainable materials, they are an alternative to conventional plastic yachts, surfboards and other plastic products. Sustainable flax fibres are used instead of glass fibres, and Green Boats uses linseed oil based resins instead of mineral oil based polyester resins. Wherever sandwich materials are called for, the young company uses cork or paper honeycombs. Compared to companies that use conventional manufacturing, Green Boats saves at least 80% CO2 when producing watersports articles. The Ocean Foundation, winner in the science category, created the International Ocean Acidification Initiative, a network of scientists with the goal of observing, understanding and reporting back on marine chemical developments. The award was given to Alexis Valauri-Orton as a representative of the Ocean Foundation. She has trained over 40 scientists and resource managers in 19 countries through her initiative. Fairtransport, a transport company from Den Helder in the Netherlands, took home the award in the society category. Instead of importing fair-trade products conventionally, the company ships selected products to Europe via sailing merchant ships. The company aims to establish a green trade network with fair products. Currently, they use two old traditional sailing ships for transportation. Fairtransport is working on replacing the two cargo sailing ships with modern trade ships with sail propulsion. The Dutch company is the first emission-free transport company worldwide. More and more celebrity marine environmentalists present their projects at the trade fair. At boot 2018, actors Sigmar Solbach and Hannes Jaenicke introduce their campaigns to save dolphins and sharks. And, thanks to the new Beach World hall, boot once again attracts surfing celebrities: Sports fans Robby Naish and Björn Dunkerbeck join us in Düsseldorf. Daniel Roessner, star of the German TV action series “Alarm für Cobra 11”, tells us about his new, relaxed life on his houseboat. Till Demtröder, known for his role in the German TV police series “Großstadtrevier” and his appearance as Old Shatterhand at the Karl May Festival in Bad Segeberg in 2016, is the new sea rescuers ambassador and holds an autograph session at boot. boot Düsseldorf ends this year 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.