You can see the three carbon masts from just about anywhere in Ōpua, especially at night when they are all lit up. It's been said that at nearly 70 metres they are tall enough to just scrape through the tall Bridge of the Americas on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal.
The masts belong on Sea Eagle II, the world's largest aluminium yacht that is sitting alongside Ōpua Wharf. She is on her maiden voyage and is at the wharf for the duration of crew quarantine, before going to Whangārei.
She is registered in Georgetown, Guyana, and reportedly belongs to Taiwanese billionaire businessman and philanthropist Samuel Yen-Liang Yin. He is chairman of Taiwan's Ruentex Group and has stakes in Sun Art Retail Group, a leading hypermarket operator in China.
Sea Eagle II is by any measure head-turning. She is 81 metres long, with a width of just 12.4 metres (to aid sailing ability). She has a sweeping 3500sq m of sail. The sail area is controlled by 34 winches from a sailing system integrator.
She was designed by Dykstra Naval Architects and built by Dutch company Royal Huisman, who reportedly described her as the most sophisticated yacht they'd built in their 137-year history. There is a Sea Eagle I, built for the same owner, but this vessel eclipses the first one in length by 36.5m.
The interior has Alpiwalnut wall panels, wenge timber trim and natural oak floors - and according to one report, the owner's collection of modern art "adds splashes of colour". There are handrails across the cabin, wrapped in leather as a design motif, and because the space is used to host business meetings there is copious seating. There's a 16-place dining table for formal occasions.
She can accommodate up to 12 guests in six spacious cabins including the owner's VIP suite. There is a half-raised bridge for inside steering. The flybridge offers full controls during sailing and the area has seating for guests plus, as you'd expect, room for "sunbathing opportunities".
She has two skippers and both call Russell home when their peripatetic lifestyle allows. Max Cumming is a well-seasoned superyacht skipper who spends his time circumnavigating the globe. He wrote the book, Senses, about his time onboard the superyacht of the same name owned at the time by Sir Douglas Myers and his wife Barbara.
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The other skipper is Tod Thompson, who had a big hand in Sea Eagle's design. He's the owner's representative on board as well as the skipper.
As she sailed towards Ōpua, Sea Eagle II was met by the traditional schooner, R. Tucker Thompson, which was built by Tod's father and eponymously named. After Tucker's death the ship was completed by Tod and Russell Harris, who owned her in a partnership with Greta Simmonds.
Paying homage to Tod by sailing together down the channel towards Ōpua Wharf, Sea Eagle II made the R. Tucker Thompson look like a gaff-rigged dinghy, which she most certainly is not. It's just that Sea Eagle II is so much more of just about everything.