Riviera: Sydney Boat Show’s Asian Conundrums
Chinese investors, who have reportedly pushed Sydney’s waterfront real estate to record high price levels, were notably absent from this year’s 50th Sydney International Boat Show.
Walking the Darling Harbour in-water display and hardstanding exhibits at the newly-opened International Convention Centre for four days, almost the only Asians encountered were Fang Yuan and Trouble Huang from Heysea Yachts near Macau, who have recently sold a 41.5m motor yacht to an Australian client, via dealer Tony Ross of Ensign Yachts on the Gold Coast.
It wasn’t always so. Two decades ago, Asian buyers and dealers thronged both the Sydney and Sanctuary Cove boating events, which are the largest in Australia and probably in the Southern Hemisphere.
But somewhere along the line, links have been lost, ties are now loosened. Neil Perry, one of Australia’s premier chefs, was opening an alleged Cantonese restaurant called Jade Temple in Sydney at the same time, and one couldn’t help noticing that the featured dishes, amusingly, were Honey King Prawns, Chilli Pork and Peking Duck. Such a gulf still seems to separate genuine Australian and Asian cuisines, cultures and values.
Those values should not be so divergent where the wealthy are concerned, though, as High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) tend to behave in similar ways irrespective of country and creed, thus it may pay to deconstruct the present state of boating within Asia-Pacific waters, and see what improvements can usefully be made.
Riviera and Maritimo, launched in succession by boat building guru Bill Barry-Cotter, are Australia’s largest production yards. Apart from the Australian and New Zealand markets, their export focus has been on America, then Europe. A few dealers exist in East Asia and Southeast Asia, but neither has a rep in Hong Kong, for example, and there is nothing resembling a complete network in what is acknowledged as the world’s fastest-growing big boating waters.
A Maritimo M70 was shown by SG Boating in Singapore recently, and in Sydney the Maritimo S70 sedan cruiser made its international debut, boasting a top speed of almost 30 knots. It can cover 520 nm at 21 knots, and an astounding 1,600 nm at nine knots. Riviera launched its Riviera 68 Sports Motor Yacht shown on the previous page. Offering everything that a sports fisher or water sports enthusiast could wish for, an elevated al fresco mezzanine is forward of the cockpit, with a large dining area and central U-shaped gourmet gallery.
Palm Beach Motor Yachts, run by Australia’s famous offshore yacht racing captain, Mark Richards, skipper of Sydney-Hobart winner Wild Oats X1, are perfect for say relaxed voyaging between Singapore and Phuket.
But now Palm Beach is jointly run with previously Singapore-based and lately Malaysian-built Grand Banks, and it has turned a once fuddy duddy trawler brand into a sophisticated modern design that can hold its own with the very best long-range vessels. Both were on display in Sydney, where the SIBS marina is literally overlooked by the city’s CBD office high-rises.
Taiwan and mainland China builds were less evident than in years past. Asia’s #1 yard Horizon, also circa #10 globally, once more held pride of place, and other popular OEM offerings like traditional Clippers and Flemings were about, including the launch of the latest Fleming 58. Tony Fleming was build foreman for Grand Banks when that yard moved from Hong Kong to Singapore years ago.
Newcomer Heysea Yachts has set its sights on becoming China’s largest and most reputable international superyacht builder, and made its debut at SIBS – see also Top 100 in this issue – while Australian dealer Tony Ross was also showing the first NISI yacht to arrive, built near Heysea in Zhuhai, available for charter in Sydney Harbour. NISIs are being relaunched from a Croatian yard.
Mark Elkington of Multihull Solutions, showing the Fountaine PajotMY44 power catamaran and Helia 44 Evolution, is one of the more enlightened amid the current crop of dealers in bridging the Australia-Asia divide, having set up Southeast Asian offices, a Hong Kong rep, and established ties with mainland China boating interests. Watch for further important announcements from this forward-looking company quite soon.
The SIBS hardstanding was back beside the marina for the first time in four years, during which the impressive new International Convention Centre has been built, and the two displays attracted 63,000 visitors.
Boats and marine accessories were shown on the 1st, 4th and outer-deck levels of the ICC, and a dive show was included. Few visitors, looking at acres of available trailer-boats, which form 90 per cent of the 900,000 boats registered nationally, probably realised that co-exhibitors New Zealand-built Maxwell winches and windlasses, and Tasmanian Muirs, are de rigueur on many of the world’s 5,000+ superyachts.
Sydney Superyacht Marina and multi-venue D’Albora Marinas were prominent, and superyacht-capable Abell Point Marina in the Whitsunday Islands, a central part of the Great Barrier Reef, had just won “Marina of the Year” and “Most Innovative Marina” accolades.
SIBS will be held again 2-6 August next year.
Words Bruce Maxwell