Major investments and events highlight state’s leading role

The Australian state of Queensland is certainly a key location in the global yachting and superyacht sectors in the latter half of May.

The holding of the 3rd Australian Superyacht Rendez-Vous, the ASMEX Conference, the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (SCIBS) and the Marinas19 Conference all reflect the significance of Queensland not only in the Australian boating market, but further afield – not least being the home to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), a growing draw for visiting superyachts.

The role of Queensland, however, is not just about events but also a growing list of new infrastructure investments which will enhance the capability of the state to handle bigger superyachts in support terms such as repairs, refits and maintenance.

Perhaps the opener for the current Queensland focus was the successful soft launch, on May 14, of the world’s largest travel lift at the BSE Cairns Slipways shipyard in Cairns. This 1,120-tonne capacity lift is just the first a number of new investments allowing business across Queensland to handle larger yachts.

Cairns, with its shipyards and Marlin marina on the doorstep of the GBR, makes it a key location for superyachts in Australia. An initiative is currently underway which could see the development of a 3,000-tonne synchroflit plus other investments allowing the shipyards to handle yachts of up to 130m (437ft).

Other key shipyard investments include:

  • a new 1,280-tonne capacity travel lift being purchased by the Yard in Brisbane
  • Rivergate Shipyard in Brisbane reviewing system options for hauling out larger superyachts than currently such as a travel lift, synchrolift or dry dock
  • a A$100m expansion project at the Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard (GCCM) on the Gold Coast
  • a major expansion of The Boat Works facility at Coomera (see IBI May 15, 2019)

A spokesman for the Yard in Brisbane told IBI: “The superyacht market is exploding here. It accounts for 50% of our work and is growing. We have four boats in at the moment, including three over 40m (131ft).”

As for the new travel lift, which will be the largest in the world, he commented: “We are still deciding on exactly what we want and once we have decided it will take 18 months to two years to get it made a and installed, so it will be late 2020 or 2021 before we have it. We have changed the manufacturer we were going with and we are taking account of changes in the market with yachts and tugs having wider beams.”

Some of these expansions were highlighted at the recent Asia Pacific Superyacht Conference held in Singapore. They will also be addressed at the ASMEX (Australian Superyacht & Marine Exports) conference being held May 20-21 at Sanctuary Cove.

Complementing the shipyard plans are also a number of marina expansion plans on the Gold Coast to be able to berth much larger yachts. At Marina Mirage, where berths between 80m-100m (262ft-328ft) are being considered, a spokeswoman told IBI: “It’s still a little premature to provide any of the berths at present as it’s only very early days and a project manager has not yet been appointed.”

At the Southport Yacht Club (SYC), Mark Riddell, waterfront manager, explained to IBI: “I am waiting on a couple of things for the berth, so I cannot give any dates as yet. The berth will be 165m (542ft) long at a cost of around A$7m. The berth will be for members and visitors. SYC currently have superyacht berths of 2 x 30m; 1 x 35m, 2 x 40m,3 x 50m and 1 x 75m.”

Also on the Gold Coast, the long, drawn-out plan to develop the Spit has worked through a number of proposals, some of which include the provision of a superyacht marina and a cruise ship terminal. This is a work in progress. In northern Queensland, at Port Douglas, there are plans to develop the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, which may include an additional 24 berths.

In regard to events over the next two weeks, the Australian Superyacht Rendez-Vous runs from May 17-18 at GCCM, clashing with the Australian election. This will be followed by the ASMEX Conference from May 20-21, SCIBS from May 23-26, and the Marinas19 Conference from May 27-28.