Hey Big Spender - Luxury Travel Magazine

Hey Big Spender

By: Fiona Harper, Issue 35 – Winter 2008
(Luxury yachts review)


In the world of luxury yachting, size really does matter. Yachts (and make no mistake a yacht can be powered by either diesel engine or sail) generally come into the luxury category once they go beyond 60 feet. To be classed as a Superyacht, a yacht is generally over 100 feet, though at which point a regular luxury yacht becomes a Superyacht is somewhat ambiguous. Even more obscure is determining when a Superyacht becomes a Mega-yacht, but it’s safe to assume that anything over 150 feet is Mega. And yes, in the boating industry, imperial length is still used. 150 feet sounds much more impressive than 50 metres, don’t you think?

In luxury boating terms it really is a case of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have yachts’. Having your own luxury yacht has become an increasingly important addition to other essential ‘must haves’, along with the international holiday house, the private jet and the art or antique collection. But there is also an extremely practical element to owning your own luxury yacht. Private yachts are the perfect escape for entertaining in style and privacy, while providing a unique experience for guests. And what’s more, with a professional Captain and crew taking care of all the maintenance and those pesky ocean linkups, your luxury yacht can be waiting for you at countless delightful ports around the world.

Property developers have long been aware of the increasing interest in luxury boating and are creating waterfront residential developments in all the best Australian locations. The Gold Coast has always been popular, and it’s still expanding with plans afoot for future Superyacht facilities. Ephraim and Sovereign Islands are glamorous developments with their own private marinas strictly for residents. Developers of Bluewater Marina in Cairns are creating a prestigious canal precinct. In Western Australia, Mandurah has become a hub for luxury boat owners, while little known Exmouth, with pristine Ningaloo Reef on its doorstep, is developing a waterfront precinct. New marinas are popping up everywhere as the boating industry scrambles to create opportunities for buyers to berth their expensive vessels.

So, where does one start when looking to purchase a luxury yacht? Australian manufacturers are producing quality vessels comparable with anything found overseas. According to one industry insider, the wait at the moment is quite long if you require a vessel custom built to your own specifications in one of the best European boatyards. Some owners are waiting up to seven years, but more typical is two to three years. As a general rule of thumb, expect to spend approx US$1million per metre to commission a new build for anything over 50 metres.

But it doesn’t stop there for the proud new owner: annual maintenance of a Superyacht, plus crew operating costs can typically run to 10% of the initial purchase cost. Riviera is perhaps the best known, and certainly the most respected luxury yacht builder in Australia. With sports and flybridge vessels up to 70 feet, Riviera produce scores of quality vessels each year: walk along any dock and you are bound to stumble across a ‘Riv’.

Based on the Gold Coast, Riviera has evolved over almost 30 years, and now operates the largest luxury boat building facility in the southern hemisphere. Riviera owners are quite a dedicated bunch, upgrading regularly as new models are released, and keeping their vessels fully equipped with branded merchandise. One proud owner I spoke to offered me champagne from a Riviera etched flute, positioned beside a Rivera ice bucket, with condensation catching in a Riviera towel. While we talked he absently fondled the diamond encrusted Riviera pendant strung around his neck.

Renowned offshore racing champion Bill Barry-Cotter runs Maritimo, also Gold Coast based. In designing Maritimo long-range luxury cruisers, Bill simply designed the boat he wanted for himself, including fully enclosed walkaround decks, beautifully styled timber interior’s and stainless steel stairwells. Warren Yachts have been building highly engineered, performance driven custom yachts in Brisbane since the early 80s. Their highly successful, and much awarded S87 is the conceptual prologue to their new and highly sophisticated 120-foot Super Sportyacht, scheduled for launch in August this year. Exquisitely custom tailored to owner need and desire, the S120 reaches a level of personal expression previously unavailable in the semi-production boating industry.

Golfer Greg Norman commissioned Oceanfast, a world-renowned shipbuilder, to build Aussie Rules, a 228-foot aluminium hulled luxury yacht, the largest of its kind in the world. Meticulously fitted out, Aussie Rules was engineered for long-range ocean cruising and exploration. With a range of 8,000 nautical miles, Aussie Rules could travel from Fremantle to Sydney via the Top End before she would need to refuel. Aussie Rules is actually more like a luxurious mother ship to a fleet of five other boats and four wave runners, all of which are stored onboard, allowing guests to explore regions that the larger vessel cannot access.

Dyna Motor Yachts, a luxury motor yacht builder in Taiwan, have recently established an Australian agent to coincide with the launch of two new vessels in Melbourne, the Dyna58 and the Dyna77. These two meticulously fitted out vessels have both been built to Australian survey, ensuring an income for owners who place the vessels into commercial charter when not required for personal use. Chris Chadwick, owner of the Dyna77 Chase III is delighted with his new motor yacht. With the vessel being built in the Taiwan factory, he says there is a distinct price advantage, comparable to an Australian built boat, with no compromise on quality, internal fittings or performance. Chase III will soon leave the cool Melbourne waters to bask in the Winter sunshine of Queensland and will possibly be based at Hamilton Island. Many luxury yachts are based in the Whitsunday Islands for the southern Winter. Owners and their guests take advantage of direct jet flights into Hamilton Island by the major airlines, and can be onboard within five minutes of leaving the airport.

Hamilton Island management have been trying to attract Superyachts for a number of years, with plans to host a regatta amongst the Whitsunday islands. 2008 was to be a significant year, with the opening of the Great Barrier Reef Yacht Club, plus the inaugural Hamilton Island Superyacht Series regatta. However, an extreme wet season has delayed the completion of the GBRYC, while the inaugural 2008 regatta has been postponed for 12 months while government regulation issues are resolved.

“The problem is pretty simple,” according to Hamilton Island CEO, Glenn Bourke. “Under Federal Government legislation, Superyachts over 35 metres in length cannot put down an anchor within 1.5km of Whitehaven Beach and other beautiful locations in the Whitsundays. The anomaly is that the same legislation currently permits large tourist vessels, with hundreds of guests on board, to anchor close to these very locations.”

According to Superyacht Series Organiser, Rob Mundle, Superyachts in private operation or under charter, rarely carry more than 10 guests, and they represent low impact and exceptionally high tourist yield for a region. “The Whitsundays is our answer to the Caribbean. In the next 30 months, 371 Superyachts will be built, 235 of them are over 30 metres, 51 are over 50 metres and 10 are over 100 metres. They are all looking for a new playground and it’s all here,” Rob said.

Just ask Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch: they are regular visitors to Hamilton Island on their sleek Swan 80 Ipixuna.

Authors Top 5:
• Swan
• Riviera
• Warren Yachts
• Grand Banks
• John Alden Designs

Warren Yachts
Dyna Motor Yachts

Share this page: