Luxury yacht's giant boost to trade figures

By Chloe Johnson

Vertigo is $80 million worth of ocean-going extravagance. Photo / Chris Lewis
Vertigo is $80 million worth of ocean-going extravagance. Photo / Chris Lewis

New Zealanders love to puddle about in boats- but never before has a single over-sized dinghy turned the country's balance of trade statistics on its head.

Export figures for pleasure boats increased by more than 1000 per cent in May, on the back of one sale: an $80 million superyacht named Vertigo.

The 67m yacht was sold to a family-owned British company that flagged it in the Marshall Islands - propelling that tiny Pacific nation from No 137 on New Zealand's list of trading partners in April, to our seventh-largest export partner in May.

Vertigo is, says the boatbuilder, the largest private yacht ever to be made in New Zealand. The buyers say they paid nearly $100m, by the time fittings were also taken into account.

The boat was bought by Maritime Asset Ventures (UK) Ltd.

The unnamed owner plans to travel around Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia on the yacht, before returning to New Zealand in time for the Rugby World Cup.

Statistics NZ figures revealed exports were up $429m in May, year-on-year, with pleasure boats making a bigger contribution to the growth than traditional stalwarts such as cheese and butter.

Maritime Asset Ventures co-director Andrew Senn said he wasn't surprised their "decent transaction" made an impact on the export industry.

"The total is more like $100 million because I think they've just looked at the direct invoices, they haven't taken into account all the peripheral stuff we bought," he said.

Auckland boat builders Alloy Yachts won the contract to build the 650-tonne vessel, designed by Frenchman Phillipe Briand, two years ago.

"We came to New Zealand and visited Alloy," Senn said. "They wanted to build a luxury boat that sailed well and understood us from day one."

The yacht was built to accommodate 24 people and has three dining areas, two bars, a jacuzzi, classroom, gymnasium, trampoline, another boat and watersport equipment. It was registered in the Marshall Islands, in the western Pacific, and would be chartered for $470,000 a week.

"She's been built as a charter boat ... we have chartered it to one person for the next four months ... who just so happens to be be the owner of Maritime Asset Ventures," Senn said.

Alloy Yachts managing director Tony Hambrook said the owner would be back for the Rugby World Cup. "The owner is now on board and is a great rugby fan and as a result is planning on coming back," Hambrook said.

- Herald on Sunday

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