During their 2014 New Zealand tour their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have had the opportunity to experience the NZ marine industry, in so doing bringing it to the world’s attention.
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s visit to Auckland ‘City of Sails’ on Friday included a tour of Alloy Yacht’s award-winning sailing yacht 44m Imagine, match race sailing on the Waitemata Harbour on former Team New Zealand yachts NZL41 and NZL68, and a 20 minute fast passage up the Waitemata Harbour on a Sealegs amphibious craft.
New Zealand’s marine industry has experienced a tough few years since 2008 with the strength of the NZ dollar being a major factor in the weakening market. The lastest casualty has been Fitzroy Yachts which will close its doors after the launch 37.5m Escapade.
But there is good news; New Zealand’s boat-building expertise and marine technology is sought after by the world’s top ocean racing competitors – the America’s Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race and the Olympics. The resulting expertise and technology has been transferred into New Zealand products readily available on the international market.
This can especially be seen in the strength of NZ suppliers, particularly sailmakers and spar and rigging manufacturers. Southern Spars, Doyle Sails, North Sails, C-Tech and Hall Spars & Rigging are all investing heavily in R&D and reaping the rewards.
The New Zealand marine industry has also been able to benefit from government recognition of its value in bringing business and creating jobs and, consequently, has earned a great deal of support. Undoubtedly the royal visit will raise its profile yet more.
New Zealand is featured as the country focus in the April issue of Superyacht Business.