Asia’s Leading Yacht Builders 2020 (Part 2 of 2): S.E. Asia, UAE
Yacht Style profiles yards in Southeast Asia and the UAE in the second and final part of Issue 52’s cover story on Asia’s top yacht builders.
In Southeast Asia, Thailand has several smaller yacht builders, Malaysia is home to iconic Grand Banks and sister brand Palm Beach, while Indonesia is best known for the production of high-end phinisis, many of which have been successfully developed for luxury charter cruises around the archipelago.
In Thailand, the Bakri Cono shipyard outside Pattaya specialises in solar technology and is enjoying a new lease of life as builder of the new Silent 60 powercat from Silent Catamarans, a leading developer of oceangoing solar-electric production catamarans.
The Austrian company has outsourced production of its range to four builders in three continents and in February announced six sales of the Silent 60, which is designed and engineered by Albert Nazarov, developing upon the 55 produced in China that established the brand.
Bakri Cono is already building multiple units of the Silent 60 and is scheduled to launch the first this summer, while also building its own Heliotrope 70.
Philippe Guenat, Bakri Cono’s General Manager, said: “Since 2013, Bakri Cono has specialised in the use of solar panels, electrical engines and vacuum infusion with sophisticated resin. For a while, the market didn’t realise the advantages, but by 2019 these technologies made us a real leader as the yachting world woke up.”
Last year, Bakri Cono – which has a relationship with Camper & Nicholsons in Asia – delivered a Heliotrope 48 powercat to a Hong Kong client, while in 2018 an earlier hull of the same model exhibited at the Sydney show.
Founded in 2004, Bakri Cono was originally situated in Ocean Marina, but since 2015 has operated out of its privately owned 20,800sqm facility in the PMG Marine Complex in Rayong. About 70 staff work at the site, which has a 3m-deep pool able to test yachts up to 80ft, direct sea access and its own launching pier.
There have also been many positive developments at Grand Banks Yachts including a 10-year high order book of S$63.9 million (about US$45 million), which the Singapore-listed company announced in mid-February.
The builder has also completed a massive four-year expansion and overhaul of its main production facility in the southern state of Johor, which included hiring over 180 new workers and investing in training, machinery and tooling, robotics and R&D.
New machinery at the 51,000sqm facility in Pasir Gudang includes two eight-axis CNC robots for rapid prototyping and developing tooling in-house.
The company – which acquired Australia’s Palm Beach Motor Yachts in 2014 – continues to produce new models thick and fast, having grown to over 800 staff across its sites in Johor, Sydney and Stuart, Florida, a facility it bought in 2018.
Grand Banks was planning to stage the world premiere of the GB54 at the Palm Beach show in Florida after already securing early sales, and hopes to launch its flagship GB85 by the end of the year. The two models follow the GB60, launched in 2017.
The company also recently announced seven sales of the Palm Beach PB70, which only debuted at Fort Lauderdale last November and tops a PB range including 42, 45, 50, 52, 55 and 65 models. In February, Palm Beach staged the world premiere of the GT60 at the Miami International Boat Show, a year after the GT50 Open debuted at the same event.
“The GT60 is an absolute dream result that our team worked tirelessly on perfecting for the past 12 months,” said Mark Richards, CEO of Grand Banks Yachts, which has five new products in development for release over the next two years.
“To have such a beautiful boat wrapped around a twin-engine system that out-performs similar-sized competing products that use three engines or twice the horsepower is a truly remarkable achievement.”
One of Asia’s most iconic yacht-building brands, Grand Banks was founded in Hong Kong in 1956 and relocated to Singapore in 1973 before moving to Malaysia.
Founded in Indonesia, Yacht Sourcing is a multi-faceted yacht services company that owns its own shipyard in Bira, Sulawesi, where about 80 craftsmen build and refit traditionally designed wooden yachts with high-end fittings and furnishings for luxury charters.
The most famous yacht to emerge from the 4,000sqm waterfront facility is the 55m, nine-cabin Prana by Atzaro, which launched in mid-2018 and has become one of Indonesia’s most successful charter superyachts.
Last year’s launches included the 27m Maggia and the 47m phinisi Maj Oceanic, which is being fitted out for delivery to The Maj Group. Previous builds include the 23m Kelana and 40m Ocean Pure, while the 16m Anne Judith and 34m Tiger Blue have had refits at the yard.
Ongoing builds include the 50m Vela, set for completion later this year. Yacht Sourcing co-founder Boum Senous describes the 164ft sailing yacht as a “phinisi-schooner fusion, with a very specific interior that will make it one of a kind”.
Now also working on one 30m and two 45m projects, Yacht Sourcing is looking to expand the facility so it can accommodate four builds at once. Continuing to develop sustainable, eco-friendly propulsion solutions, the company is also seeking to establish an international dealer network for its new builds.
FLYING HIGH IN THE EMIRATES
In the west of Asia, Gulf Craft – which boasts 1,300 employees across two facilities in the UAE and another in the Maldives – recently launched its first Majesty 120 and will follow with the flagship Majesty 175 as it develops the larger end of its vast product range.
As well as the Majesty Yachts brand, Gulf Craft produces the long-range Nomad Yachts, Oryx sport cruisers, and Silvercraft fishing and leisure boats at its main 90,000sqm facility in Umm Al Quwain.
Nomad rose in prominence last year with its new SUV Collection, launching the 65 SUV, 75 SUV and 95 SUV models, all featuring semi-displacement hybrid hulls.
Traditionally the biggest exhibitor at the Dubai International Boat Show, Gulf Craft usually has a strong presence at leading boat shows in Europe and last autumn showed four yachts at Cannes and six at Monaco, also displaying boats at the likes of Southampton and Genoa.
An occasional exhibitor at shows in Asia and Australia, Gulf Craft made a big leap last year when it made its US show debut at Fort Lauderdale with two superyachts, and this year’s calendar includes both Miami and Palm Beach.
Increasingly focused on technology and sustainable solutions for its range of yachts from 36-175ft, Gulf Craft is building its first hybrid model, while the new Majesty 120 uses electricity for all power requirements except engines and generators.
Gulf Craft’s leadership is also undergoing a period of transition. After Gregory Yeakle’s role as CEO was absorbed by co-founder and Chairman Mohammed H. Alshaali last year, this year began with the appointments of his daughter Abeer Alshaali as Acting CEO after almost six years as Executive Management Officer, Nizar Tagi as CCO and Paul Gray as COO.
Also ‘Made in UAE’, the 40-knot Foiler is produced by Enata, one of the Middle East’s leading composites manufacturers. Founded by French entrepreneur Sylvain Vieujot, Enata builds the high-tech 10m yacht in its own 7,000sqm facility, which includes marine, aerospace and architecture divisions.
Since unveiling a prototype at the Dubai show in 2018, Enata has continued to develop the ‘The Flying Yacht’, which has four hydrofoils that automatically lift it 1.5m above the water at 18 knots.
Last year, Enata introduced a forward cockpit with a joystick, while the 2020 update includes 54 new smart sensors located across the yacht’s operational platform that pick up data including wheel positioning, port and starboard foil angles and pressure, exhaust temperature, and propulsion performance and stability indicators.
“The technology upgrades that the Foiler has received for 2020 are truly groundbreaking,” said Alois Vieujot, Enata’s Manager. “Never before have we seen such innovations that will continue to improve a yacht owner’s experience day in, day out – both in ways that they can see and feel, and those that happen in the background. Enata has dared to dream big with these new smart sensor and AI features, and we feel the investment has paid off.”
At the same time as Asia’s yacht builders expanding and invest in high-tech facilities and R&D, international brands are increasingly choosing to build in the region or outsource to existing shipyards, all helping yachts ‘Made in Asia’ go from strength to strength.
- The original article appears in Yacht Style Issue 52 (click image below)
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