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Superyacht Australia sees resurgence for yacht building in Australia

by MaryAnne Edwards on 15 Aug 2014
AIMEX
A Singapore-based family has formed Echo Yachts, a yacht builder based in Western Australia’s Henderson Marine Precinct to undertake the building of the family’s yachts, including the largest ever super yacht built in Australia. The Company has brought together a regional ‘who’s who’ in the Australian super yacht industry.

Sam Sorgiovanni a world-renowned super yacht designer and recently inducted into the Australian Hall of Fame has been commissioned to undertake the super yacht’s external and interior design.

Mark Stothard is a Director of Echo Yachts and has himself been a successful key player in the Australian superyacht industry for a number of years maintaining a strong presence in the industry despite the tough times encountered for many during the GFC.

M Edwards CEO of Superyacht Australia, the peak body for the Superyacht Industry said, 'this project has come at a time when Australia is again making an impact on the global stage with our superyacht refit yards busier than they have ever been and builders like Silver and Echo showcasing the benefits of electing to build down under. Projects such as the new build by Echo ensure Australia skills and expertise continue to develop in this sector. Australia is a maritime nation and as such has always had a reputation for quality, innovation, skills, expertise and most of all a 'can do attitude'.

With the Asia Pacific region becoming the new Med for yacht owners in terms of offering safe and unique cruising destinations Edwards said 'Superyacht Australia is fielding more and more enquiries re our capability and capacity to look after these yachts. A recent event in Tahiti, marketing Australian capability to super yachts chartering there resulted in some significant work coming our way'.

Australia also recently signed an MOU with NZ to jointly market the region and this alliance is certain to place a spotlight on the Pacific as the place to be and with the fantastic facilities in both NZ and Australia we are expecting considerable growth in the industry in our region.

The 84 metre aluminium vessel being built by Echo is the largest tri-hulled super yacht to be built anywhere - with tri-hull configuration allowing for an impressive 20 metre beam which in turn will accommodate a vast deck expanse and palatial interior spaces. Construction will take three years from start to finish.

The total project also includes the construction of a 46 metre fibreglass catamaran that will be deployed as a support vessel for the larger build. The catamaran will carry 12 tenders designed with a range of sporting and exploratory capabilities. A 12m tender will be equipped with full navigation systems and high tech 3D sonar’s for the exploration of sea beds and sunken wrecks.

Construction of the support vessel is already well under-way with completion scheduled for late 2015. Designed by New Zealand’s LOMOcean, the vessel boasts the project’s hallmark and cutting-edge hull forms, lightweight lay-ups and state of the art build techniques.

The economic value of this entire project to Australia is significant not only in direct export revenue but in the creation of jobs. With many countries struggling to maintain their skilled and experienced craftsmen this project is a huge boost for Australia. The supply chain derived from a new build of this magnitude will be a huge boost to the industry in Western Australia.

Superyacht Australia posed the following questions to Managing Director of Echo Mark Stothard

Can you advise the number of people likely to be employed and the economic value to Western Australia from this new project?

'We are expecting to ramp up to around 250 people by mid next year and we are very much focused on training by way of apprenticeships and one on one training. We have a very experienced core to draw from and we have already briefed our team to ensure that knowledge transfer is paramount.

I am not sure as to the entire economic benefit to WA, but for sure it will be significant, given the projects will run over a three year period and is the largest super yacht project to ever be tackled in Australia.'

Would you have a comment re the supply chain you are creating with this new build?

For sure the industry supply chain will benefit and not just in WA. We all know over the last few years, the supply chain has been doing it tough. We tend to use loyal contractors who have done the right thing and looked after us over the years.

Do you see having both yourself and Silver in Western Australia an advantage to Australian yacht building, will you share any resources, skills?

For sure it is an advantage having Silver Yachts just down the way. They have their own business model, which is significantly different to ours and yes we have already been working together and sharing resources when it works and will continue to do so.

What do you see as the 'USP' for building in Australia?

Without doubt Australia has earned the reputation of being a ‘can do’ ship and yacht building nation over the years and more specifically being very good at one off’s in every facet of shipbuilding.

We have adopted some cutting edge manufacturing and design techniques to cut down the labour hours and speed up the build times and the ability to be able to plan to adopt these processes can only come from time on the ground.

Our Chairman is quite a visionary and always pushes us to explore the limits of everything we do. He does not like the norm and wants these projects to be a showcase of his vision and engineering boldness. We were selected as the team as being best suited to realise his vision.

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