Forty of the boat builders behind the remarkable vessel which Emirates Team New Zealand sailed to America's Cup glory were recently made redundant.

One former employee said he was "disgusted" that the company that built the boat, Southern Spars, had let him go after years of highly-specialised work.

However, company management said it was, regrettably, the nature of the industry and the vast majority of those who had lost their jobs had already found new employment and been supported to the utmost by Southern Spars.

A specialist boat builder, who asked not to be named as he feared it may impede future job prospects, said he regularly worked seven-day weeks on the high-tech vessel.


"Everything you see on TV is a whole lot of hype and a whole lot of camaraderie.
What about the boat builders that built the boat that now don't have a job?

"You want to be stuck in a paper suit 13 hours a day, grinding carbon, not seeing your family for four years? Because that's how long the process takes."

He said he had received no indication that there would be job losses until about a week before the Cup started. A few days later he was called upstairs by management and told his skills were no longer required.

The man felt no ill-will towards Team New Zealand and rejoiced in their victory. However, he felt highly aggrieved that the boat builders received so little recognition, when they were as much behind New Zealand's victory as the sailors themselves.

"I feel like I've been walked all over after all the hard work and effort I put into that company."

Forty boat builders who made the remarkable vessel which sailed team Team New Zealand to America's Cup glory were recently made redundant. Photo / file
Forty boat builders who made the remarkable vessel which sailed team Team New Zealand to America's Cup glory were recently made redundant. Photo / file

Southern Spars general manager Peter Batcheler said the company had always been transparent about its situation to staff.

"There's a few things we need to understand here: The America's Cup boat that we delivered was delivered last year so between last year and now is a long time of production. Like any contracting business, production goes up and down. We're no different," Batcheler said.

"The good news about the America's Cup of course is it should bring some activity back to New Zealand which will put us in a better position going forward."


The company had done everything it possibly could to avoid job losses and it was a last resort.

"We take it very, very seriously and it's a conversation that's been running for months. We also know that with very few exceptions everybody that we did have to let go we actually helped them to get into employment within, in some cases, hours," Batcheler said.

He said this was not an unusual situation and was, unfortunately, the nature of the marine industry, and the company had fought hard to keep as many staff as possible.

"Of course I [feel upset that I've had to let people go]. Who wants to do that? I'm sorry for their apparent lack of understanding of the effort we put into to trying to make sure it didn't happen in the first place, but we did."

He added that the company remained committed to helping those staff that remained out of work to regain employment.

NZ Marine Industry Association executive director Peter Busfield, speaking from Bermuda, said such unfortunate events were not merely the nature of the marine industry, but of business in general.

Busfield said people would easily find work in the industry because it was "desperately short" of skilled staff at the moment.