At Port Vell de Barcelona has hosted since 12 October the 59th ediction of Saló Nàutic,an event organised by the Fira de Barcelona in collaboration with ANEN- Asociación Nacional de Empresas Nàuticas- . The president, Luis Conde,a lover of the sea who has been at the helm of the event since 2009, is enthusiastic about the momentum with which the sector has emerged from the health crisis.
What do you expect from this year's edition?
We have the impression that it will be a success, because after a year's absence due to the pandemic, there was a desire to come.People were keen to meet and get together again at the Salón Nàutic and we are seeing the results, with very good attendance figures. The truth is that it is working very well. Let's not forget that this is the best nautical event not only in Spain, but also in southern Europe, and that this year we have more than 500 boats, 176 of them in the floating exhibition.
In these first days it has been shown that the visitor goes beyond the purely professional...
Yes, indeed. We have had a very busy first day. The opening on a public holiday and the good weather has meant that many families have come. During the week, the visitor is more professional, you see familiar faces, but at the weekend we will see again that visitor who comes to know the nautical.
How has recreational and sports sailing changed in the 13 years that you have presided over the Saló?
For example, the introduction of the joystick has made it easier for people to drive a boat and this is making them lose their fear of sailing.
With 8,000 kilometres of coastline, what more can be done to increase sailing enthusiasts?
Be careful! Don't be in a hurry. Bear in mind that in Spain there is one boat for every 200 inhabitants and in France one for every hundred. The typology of our coast and the orography, with small coves, limits the space to leave the boats.
So, can sailing only be for the elite few?
No way! Dry marinas should be promoted, as in the United States, which allows you to take boats out to sea, without having to moor them in harbours or coves.
I imagine that this would require the involvement of the administrations. You have always fought for aid to arrive. Is there any progress in this regard?
None. The administrations continue to think that sailing is elitist when it is not. If a group of young people want to go on holiday on a boat, they can do so for a hundred euros a day. Renting a boat is very affordable and in these two summers of the pandemic we have seen that sailing has been very present in the tourism plans of many people who are looking for safe spaces in contact with nature. It's the same thing that happened with skiing. Now you don't see anyone with their equipment in the car. Renting has opened up the sport to many people who have taken up the sport.
What should be the first step?
It makes no sense to levy a 12 percent tax on large vessels when the majority of the fleet in Spain consists of smaller boats of less than nine metres in length. From January to September, 6,000 boats have been registered in Spain and only 600 of them are over nine metres in length. This means that the 12 percent tax is only levied on 600 boats, so the tax collected by the state is a derisory amount.
To finish, how does Luis Conde define himself as a navigator?
I have a large family, with eight children, two of whom are disabled, and fortunately they all love the sea. I started with a small boat and as the family grew, the boat grew, until it got to the point where we almost needed a Transmediterranea boat. As my children have become more independent, I have gone back to smaller boats
If we were to meet you on the high seas, what would we find?
I am a sailor who likes sailing more than motoring. This summer I went on a sailing holiday to Greece. Nine days there and nine days back. I like sailing and if it's with wind, all the better. I like swimming in the open sea, sailing at night, in the moonlight... In short, I enjoy the sea.