New Zealand’s Boating Industry Keeps Winning Awards and Customers

New Zealand’s luxury boat builders have always made boats that ‘defeat the odds, break records and collect awards,’ writes Maria Alafouzou in the New York Times. You might think, at first glance, that a small domestic market, an unfavourable exchange rate, and being some distance from your customers was not the ideal conditions for a successful boat building industry. In fact, says Alafouzou, New Zealand boat builders ‘have carved out a market out of all proportion with the size of the country.’ She sets out to explain this unique achievement. She links much of the industry’s success to Team New Zealand’s Americas Cup wins. Alafouzou argues that these, and the technology that secured them, ‘raised the profile of sailing in New Zealand, and of its elite yacht builders.’ New Zealand’s distance from its markets is another reason for its success, yacht designer Rob Humphreys told Alafouzou, ‘Being so far away from all places except for Australia, they’ve had to make amends generationally, and it’s almost part of their DNA to figure out things if they need to,’ he said. Humphreys should know. He has had several projects built in New Zealand. Then, there is the fact that New Zealand boat builders have grabbed the world’s attention, and market share, by winning awards. For example, builders McMullen & Wing’s recently completed super yacht, Big Fish, a 45-meter, steel and aluminum luxury yacht, won the International Super yacht Society Award in 2011. Big Fish was also the judge’s special commendation for the World Superyacht Awards. New Zealand’s Yachting Developments won the International Superyacht Society Award for Best Refit — another local company, Endeavour JK4, took the medal in 2012. New Zealand boat builders also specialize in custom yachts, designed to the specifications of the owner, writes Alafouzou. ‘We don’t do production yachts,’ a New Zealand builder told her. Ed Dubois, a naval architect who has designed 37 yachts made in New Zealand shipyards, adding up to $US 850 million, told Alafouzou that New Zealand’s boat building would continue to do well. ‘The New Zealand industry is successful for three reasons: they are inventive, capable, and boat people by nature,’ he said.


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