17/06/2016 - 13:40

From oil boat to superyacht

17/06/2016 - 13:40

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The downturn in the oil and gas sector could create a growth opportunity for the local boat building industry, based on the conversion of workboats into luxury superyachts.

From oil boat to superyacht
BOAT BUILD: Simon Knight (left) with Diana Scott and Echo Yachts’ Jurien Van Rongen and Chris Blackwell (right). Photo: Attila Csaszar

The downturn in the oil and gas sector could create a growth opportunity for the local boat building industry, based on the conversion of workboats into luxury superyachts.

Applecross-based project management company Silverstar Marine is at the forefront of this development, under managing director Simon Knight.

Mr Knight has teamed up with local superyacht designer Diana Scott and Henderson company Echo Yachts to pursue the plan.

“It’s the alignment of a few factors … the oil and gas market is down; a lot of these vessels are laid up around the world, in Singapore, Brunei, and Australia; a low Australian dollar; and a more flexible workforce with lower costs than over the last five or 10 years,” Mr Knight told Business News.

Echo Yachts project manager Chris Blackwell said there was emerging interest in the concept.

“There is a growing awareness that you can get some very seaworthy, highly engineered work boats at an attractive price and turn them into something extremely nice,” he said.

Ms Scott, who spent 11 years working in Monaco and runs Sterling/Scott Yacht Design, has prepared drawings to illustrate what can be done.

“We work hand in hand with the naval architects to make sure the design is thorough, and not only looks good but works,” Ms Scott said.

Her experience has included the new build of Axioma and the refit of a 72-metre superyacht called Boadicea at an Italian shipyard. “It was one of the biggest refits ever done,” Ms Scott said.

Mr Knight said he was targeting conversions into ‘explorer’ yachts, which were designed for extended touring and combined luxury with durability.

“It’s a yacht that can not only sit in the harbour at Monaco, it can travel the globe,” he said.

Mr Knight said the opportunity arose from the number of vessels available.

“If you want anything from 50 metres to 80 metres, there are so many options out there, you can get the platform you want,” he said. “That’s where the opportunity arises, to get a really good product quicker and at good value.”

Mr Knight said Echo Yachts had the facilities and specialist skills to complete the work. “There are a lot of specialised skills that have developed in shipbuilding in WA,” he said.

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