Inside a gigantic shed on the southern Perth coastline, hundreds of dedicated workers have joined forces to save Australia’s super yacht industry and make nautical history in the process.
When complete, they can lay claim to having helped create the biggest aluminium trimaran super yacht in the world.
At 84m long (longer than Perth’s Swan Bell Tower is tall) and 19m wide, and with enough accommodation for 22 guests and 30 crew, it will also be the biggest super yacht built in Australia.
The team, which numbered more than 300 at the peak of the project, is due to finish its three-and-a-half-year mission to deliver this dream vessel, dubbed White Rabbit Golf, to a wealthy Singaporean client before the middle of next year.
Echo Yachts, based at Henderson, is undertaking the prestigious job, which director Mark Stothard said was a lifeline for Australia’s super yacht industry.
“We feel very fortunate we were chosen. It has reinvigorated the super yacht industry and we’ve had a number of opportunities off the back of this project,” he said. “Echo Yachts and Hanseatic are the only super yacht builders left in Australia.
“We brought in some retired crew to impart their knowledge down the line so that we can make sure we’ve got an industry like this intact and we can take on vessels like this in the future.
“If we hadn’t have got this project a lot of the knowledge would have been lost.”
Mr Stothard, who has sold almost $1 billion worth of boats over 30 years and owns the luxury cruise vessel True North together with founding director Craig Howson, said working on White Rabbit Golf and its 46m-long shadow vessel, which is already in Singapore and can carry an additional 22 people, was the pinnacle of his career.
“I live and breathe this sort of work and this has been rewarding all the way through,” he said. “Working on the vessel will no doubt be the pinnacle of a lot of people’s careers. In ship-building terms, it’s quite unusual because it’s diesel-electric.
“The design and engineering innovation that’s gone into it really gave people the chance to explore boundaries.”
One2three Naval Architects in Sydney did a lot of research to come up with the right structure.
Internationally renowned Fremantle-based super yacht designer Sam Sorgiovanni, who worked on a super yacht for golfer Greg Norman, is behind the White Rabbit Golf’s interior and exterior styling.
“There’s no question that in terms of Australia’s industry, it’s the biggest and greatest thing we’ve ever worked on,” Mr Sorgiovanni said. “The fact it’s a trimaran makes it unique in the industry.”
The interior will have an art deco overtone with some gold accents. Everything has been custom-made, from the hand-selected onyx counter tops in the owner’s and some of the VIP cabins, to the carpets.
“It’s the pinnacle of personalisation, right down to the cushions and cutlery,” Mr Sorgiovanni said.
Mr Stothard said the White Rabbit Golf had a lot of “wow” factor, including a mirror finish all over the vessel.
“It will take three years to paint it in total,” he said.
The shadow vessel, MY Charley, is an impressive talking point in its own right and “carries all the toys” that the client, a keen scuba diver, requires. A helipad, hovercraft, 12m catamaran and decompression chamber are some of the stand-outs.
The shadow vessel has been getting a workout since it was handed over in January. “He (the client) loves it and uses it a lot,” Mr Stothard said.
“It’s always nice to fulfil someone’s dream.”
The White Rabbit Golf
- Length 84m
- Width 19m
- Weight 3000 tonnes
- Carries 22 guests and 30 crew