Leading New Zealand superyacht builder McMullen & Wing is set to start a new year with new senior appointments, new orders in prospect and new projects being developed. All this is happening some two years after the disastrous fire which seriously damaged the 50m (164ft) Star Fish. The fire caused damage to the yard and involved many staff lay-offs in order for the company to survive.

Michael Eaglen, the company’s commercial manager for the past three years, has now been appointed chief executive. He told SB: “I am very excited about my new position and the company’s future. It has been a difficult couple of years but we have learned a lot and look forward to a better future. Work on our 50m build is going well and we are talking with a number of people about new projects and we are also planning to launch new projects.”

Eaglen added: “I am about to fly to Europe to visit London and Monaco to talk with the brokers about new projects that we have been working on with a number of designers. They are projects in the 40m-60m (131ft-197ft) range which we are capable of building.”

The company has also announced other senior appointments as follows:

– Stef Smeenk, experienced yacht builder and Dutch national, has been appointed production manager with overall responsibility for all building operations. He has previously worked for Feadship De Vries Aalsmeer, where he was responsible for managing and overseeing shipyard activities.

– Steve Bates has been appointed design manager and he has come from fellow New Zealand superyacht builder Alloy Yachts. Bates brings over 20 years’ experience across the full range of design disciplines.

– Richard Low, well-known fellow New Zealander and former yacht captain, has been appointed M&W project coordinator. Low has over 20 years’ and  some 300,000 nautical miles of experience as captain and chief engineer on a range of sailing and motoryachts, most notably the 45m Imagine D and 33m Imagine B.

– Jeff Port, long time M&W team member, has been appointed to the role of chief technical officer with responsibility for overall technical delivery.

Eaglen, a qualified naval architect, before working with M&W spent time as a designer, engineer and more recently manager of New Zealand-based global composites engineering consultancy High Modulus (now Gurit).

In terms of the 50m custom luxury expedition yacht Star Fish (now yard number 1016), she is due to be completed early in 2016. It is not known where the owner comes from. M&W recently signed a contract for a 50m steel/aluminium motor yacht, a close sistership to their multi award winning 45m Big Fish (recently recognised by IPC/SB’s sister publication Superyacht World as one of the 50 finest yachts ever built).

As to the new projects over the past two years, during which time various designers offered concept layout for how the 50m might be completed, Eaglen says: “This has helped us both with approaches from potential clients plus M&W developing a number of its own projects.”

“We are talking with various people about custom projects in the 40m to 60m range and I am coming to London and Monaco to present designs to brokers. Owners trust brokers and like to work with them. We found during the Star Fish process that brokers prefer not to be presented with a blank canvas which was how we initially tried to see the craft but with designer ideas and concepts.”

Eaglen also spoke of the close working relationship between M&W and Alloy. “We are fierce competitors,” he said, “but they help us a lot and we shared our workforce with them.”

Alloy is currently working on one project AY54 which is confidential but due for delivery later this year. At the Singapore Yacht Show, Tony Hambrook, managing director, told SB: “We are currently negotiating on three possible deals, including an American, a Canadian and a British prospect.”

SB understands from sources in New Zealand that Alloy is close to signing at least one of those three.