Today 50 years ago: it is a typical foggy November day, in the middle of the Rhineland in the German North Rhine-Westphalia region, when the first boot Düsseldorf opens its gates. Just 116 exhibitors are on board in the exhibition halls on Fischerstraße. But right from the start the people in Düsseldorf were enthusiastic about “their” boat show.
Two passionate water sports enthusiasts ignited the spark. The journalist Horst Schlichting and fair boss Kurt Schoop developed from a crazy idea the concept of a boat show in Germany’s most populous federal state. The result was something to be proud of! 33,000 people embarked on their first voyage into the world of boats and yachts and were excited about the boot Düsseldorf. Soon it will become a media attraction and thus also offer international celebrities an excellent presentation platform. And the list of aristocratic and illustrious visitors is top-class: King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia, Prince Rainier and his son Albert, King Harald of Norway, Prince Edward of Great Britain, Greek Minister of Culture, actress Melina Mercouri or surf stars such as Robbie Naish and Björn Dunkerbeck were among the guests in Düsseldorf.
But not only the boot celebrates a round birthday this year. Also her ship crane “Big Willi”, named after his godparent, the former NRW minister of interior Willi Weyer, “rounds off” this year. He has been working for boot Düsseldorf for 40 years and in December and January he lifts nearly 40 boats and yachts out of the floods of the Rhine and carefully deposits them on a low-loader that transports the precious cargo to the exhibition halls.