Kiwi's $6.8m superyacht sinks after fire

By Brendan Manning

Paul Rudling's 23m vessel ablaze in Cowes marina on the Isle of Wight. Photo / Anthony Joyce
Paul Rudling's 23m vessel ablaze in Cowes marina on the Isle of Wight. Photo / Anthony Joyce

A $6.8 million superyacht owned by a New Zealand businessman has sunk after catching fire in England.

The Kahu, a 23m vessel described as a "successful luxury ocean explorer", caught fire and subsequently sank while moored at a marina in the Isle of Wight last week.

The boat was owned by Paul Rudling, 64, who has recently returned to New Zealand after founding a successful advanced composites company and, more recently, a wind turbine rotor company.

The two-year-old superyacht was advertised for sale at the time of the fire. The listing noted Mr Rudling was an experienced yachtsman who was "very much involved at the design, specification and build stage".

The vessel boasted "stylish wooden venetian blinds, honey coloured Novasuede panels and custom teak joinery", creating a "homely long-term cruising motor yacht".

The listing noted Mr Rudling spent extensive time and money reducing the weight of the yacht.

An estimated 2000kg (2 tonnes) was saved; principally by constructing the top of the boat out of carbon fibre.

Mr Rudling's brother Phil said he was "pretty upset" with the fire. "The boat was pretty much his pride and joy."

The boat was being sold due to his move back to New Zealand, he said.

Mr Rudling was born in London and emigrated to Auckland with his parents at the age of 11, the International Boat Industry News reported.

He was educated in Auckland until the age of 16 when he joined the police, graduating as the then youngest serving member.

Mr Rudling left the police at the age of 21 to pursue a career in competitive sailing, competing at international level for both New Zealand and Great Britain, IBI News reported.

Fire crews and the Cowes Harbour Commission spent more than nine hours attempting to extinguish the fire, but the superyacht sank at 10.45pm last Tuesday with approximately 8000 litres of marine diesel fuel oil on board.

Cowes harbour master Captain Stuart McIntosh said an emergency oil spill response plan was activated to minimise the impact of any potential pollution.

Paul Rudling.
Paul Rudling.

The majority of the diesel fuel appeared to be contained within the Kahu's fuel tank, and oil booms were deployed, he said. The focus was now on the salvage and disposal of the vessel.

It will be raised off the seabed tomorrow using air lift bags, then lifted by crane to pump or drain the water in the hull. The vessel will then be taken to a disposal site by barge.

- APNZ

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