Sunseeker 76 Yacht Owner: On Board with Kenneth Lai
Proud owner of a new Sunseeker 76 Yacht, Prizm Group Director KENNETH LAI splits the use of his boat between business meetings and personal time with his family and friends, exploring the islands around Hong Kong. By Lindsay Varty.
Kenneth Lai prefers his business meetings outdoors – on board his boat. And his new Sunseeker 76 Yacht is the latest luxury platform to host Prizm Group’s clients and prospects, or senior management’s weekend brainstorming sessions.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Lai attended Wah Yan College in Wanchai before heading to New Zealand in his teenage years, eventually completing a degree at Auckland University.
As a typical Hong Kong kid growing up in the 1980s, Lai enjoyed socialising with friends after school and viewed boating as a luxury that only few people could experience. He certainly never thought about owning a boat himself.
“Back then, I thought boating was something for other people,” says Lai, now a member of both Aberdeen Boat Club and Aberdeen Marina Club. “It was not a reality for us, whereas now it’s easy to go on a boat even if you don’t own one. You can rent a junk boat, go on a boat party that you book on Facebook, but not back then.”
After graduating from university, he returned to Hong Kong and decided to set up his own tech company.
“It was a really bad time for the economy and hard to find jobs, so I started my own venture. I had a computer science background and some good friends looking for jobs. We started to hang out and think about what we could do with our skills,” Lai recalls.
“We started off doing e-commerce development and providing payment solutions to websites. We were lucky to enter the industry in the so-called ‘pioneer’ time. Since then, e-commerce has become more and more popular with businesses and merchants paying more attention to it, so business started picking up.”
Now 38, Lai is Director of Prizm Group, which provides information technology and integrated marketing solutions to customers worldwide. The company has over 200 employees across five global offices including Hong Kong, China, New Zealand and Canada.
FIRST LOVE, FIRST BOAT
Despite achieving success in the business world, it wasn’t until he met his future wife that he considered buying his first boat, an Azimut 42, a decade ago.
“I was still dating my now-wife at the time and it was always her dream. My wife is Canadian-Chinese. She grew up in Edmonton and she had a more Western mentality than me. At that time, most of my friends were locals living the big-city lifestyle, but she just treasured the sun, the outdoors, open water. So, to fulfil her dream, I had to purchase my first boat!”
Aboard the Azimut 42 – his first to be named Tory after the town his wife grew up in – Lai and his wife enjoyed many quiet weekends away from their hectic office jobs, exploring Hong Kong’s islands and meeting new friends along the way.
“Before we had kids, it became a passion to go around islands we hadn’t seen before and check them out. We didn’t even know the names as there was no Google Maps. We met a lot of great people, tourists, expats or backpackers hiking on the islands, seeing what they could find beyond all the parties and drinking in Lan Kwai Fong.”
Lai decided to purchase his second boat, a Sunseeker Manhattan 55, after being persuaded it was time for an upgrade by Gordon Hui, Chairman of Sunseeker Asia.
“Gordon and I would always talk about boats because he is the king of Sunseekers! I had always liked them for their James Bond look. He introduced me to his friends who were also yacht owners and we talked a lot about our shared passions. Also, we had just found out that our first child (now five) was on the way, so we had good reason to want a boat with a bit more space,” he laughs.
More recently, Lai, who already owns two Lamborghinis, was tempted to get a new supercar after a ride in his friend’s Bugatti, but his wife steered him towards a bigger yacht. His Sunseeker 76 Yacht, his third boat to be named Tory, arrived earlier this year, after the arrival of their second son.
“We wanted to upgrade again to create an activity that we could share with our family and also friends, who also have kids – more than we have! We moved the kitchen from the main deck to the lower one, so there’s more space for kids to run around.”
Lai takes his wife and two boys out on Tory most weekends and is happy when his eldest son asks to go for a day out on the boat rather than a shopping mall. “My boy says to me, ‘Daddy, I have more fun going to the beach than Toys”R”Us.”
And it’s exactly these values that Lai and his wife try to instil in their children. That enjoying the great outdoors – as they were lucky enough to do in New Zealand and Canada – is just as important as enjoying city life.
Lai also loves to entertain his clients on his boat, often inviting them for a cruise after meetings in Prizm Group’s headquarters in Kwun Tong.
“It has become a routine for our foreign clients that come to Hong Kong. We have a good meeting in the office, then we walk one minute to the boat and just cruise around Victoria Harbour. I think it gives them a good memory and a good impression. We joke that if they don’t sign a contract, we throw them overboard!”
It’s not just new clients that get the star treatment either. Lai makes it a ritual to take senior management fishing every two weeks, to clear their minds and talk business.
“Going fishing has become our senior management brainstorming session! Every alternate weekend they join me on the boat very early in the morning to go fishing. It gives us time to have a clear mind.
“We talk a bit about business, a bit about the road map of the company, and anything else we need to discuss. We normally finish around 10am and go back home to spend the weekend with our families. And we bring fish!”
The original article appears in Yacht Style Issue 48. Email [email protected] for print subscription enquiries or subscribe to the Magzter version at: www.magzter.com/SG/Lux-Inc-Media/Yacht-Style/Fashion/