The New Zealand superyacht industry has been affected in recent years by a period of strong currency, with its remote location in relation to the main client base meaning a particular hit on the new build sector.

Following an announcement on earlier this week that Alloy Yachts has made a wave of redundancies due to these challenges, reports state that the New Zealand dollar has fallen to its lowest in more than three years as a result of investors selling the euro and buying US dollars, weakening other currencies against the greenback. We caught up with those companies in the area whose business seemingly hasn't been curbed by fluctuating currency rates.

Shipyard McMullen & Wing are busy with new-build project Big Star, which is on target to be delivered at the beginning of 2016. “We are about halfway through building our 50m expedition yacht, second in the Diamond series, which started with Big Fish,” says CEO Michael Eaglen.

Michael Eaglen, CEO of McMullen & WIng

“That project is going really well, everything’s on time and we are enjoying the whole process. It will be going in the water towards the end of this year and we will be handing over at the beginning of next year.”

After making the decision to diversify and provide full services for yachts, including refit work, survey work and haul outs, interior fittings and of course new build work, the Yachting Developments yard has come through the period of difficulty and is now busy focusing on the completion of their 33.5m Frers sloop project.

Hull 1012 progress shot at Yachting Developments

“It was difficult and painful when we had to do some downsizing a couple of years ago,” says Chris Miles, project procurement at Yachting Developments. “But our director has been very proactive and stayed very driven in chasing work. I put all of our success down to him and his willingness to change direction, to see an opportunity and to work on it.”

One Kiwi company that has maintained momentum due to its reputable rigging expertise is Southern Spars, who have recently been busy with servicing the Volvo Ocean Race fleet and, in the superyacht sector, currently has the rigging for the new SY Unfurled under construction in their Auckland facility.

A 64m mast destined for the new SY Unfurled

“The Buckets and superyacht regattas are becoming more and more professional and so there is more of a pressure on performance,” explains Josh Impy, Southern Spars' marketing manager, adding that this is one factor that is keeping them very busy. “There are very few yards that will build alloy masts for superyachts now as most will be requesting carbon rigging.”

Across the road, the Doyle NZ loft has also had an extremely busy start to the summer, with sails across all size ranges in production. In the superyacht department, work is nearing completion on a set of race sails for the Hoek 46 Elfje to use in her regatta debut at the 2015 St Barths Bucket. With the building momentum of Doyle’s racing product Stratis, managing director Chris McMaster is keen to increasingly convey the company's expertise as high-performance sailmakers.

The Doyle New Zealand loft

“Doyle is often perceived as a cruising brand but Stratis is our racing product,” he explains. “So it is about changing the perception.” McMaster also emphasises the company’s dedication to innovation, adding that they will soon be back at the drawing board to start work on new products with the core values of high performance and durability at the centre.

While the NZ dollar still stands strong against the euro, the news the the currency has reached a three-year low against the US dollar is positive for New Zealand-based companies. With a longstanding reputation in the wider industry for their yachting expertise, things are pointing in the right direction for the Kiwi superyacht industry to build momentum for the coming year.

Look out for further interviews with some of New Zealand's major shipyards in issue 163 of
The Superyacht Report.

Profile links

Doyle Sails New Zealand Ltd

Doyle Stratis

McMullen & Wing Ltd

Southern Spars

Yachting Developments

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