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New York Times - Ships and Shipping

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Sunday, 19 August 2012


ON THE CREST OF A WAVE

By Tracey Boles


MIRABELLA V certainly lives up to its description as a superyacht. At 89m tall, its 45-tonne mast is almost twice the height of Nelson’s Column. Currently in a Falmouth yard for a refit, the boat is so long that yachtbuilder Pendennis had to cut a section out of the workshed wall in order to fit it in.

A superyacht in the heart of London during the Olympics
A superyacht in the heart of London during the Olympics

The refit is being undertaken by Pendennis after the yacht’s US owner failed to find the bespoke service he was looking for on home soil. The boat has been gutted, with plans for new engines and higher ceilings.
The Cornish-based company, specialising in custom-made yachts, has moved into refitting boats after the market for new builds hit choppy waters in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. Refitting a yacht is much faster and two-thirds cheaper than building a new one, which typically takes five years.
Pendennis director Stephen Hills says: “The industry was overfuelled by demand. But then the bubble burst. Now we see a good market for servicing yachts.”
Despite the wider slump, the UK’s £450 million-a-year superyacht sector has weathered the recession well by and large, with another steady performance expected this year. As well as yacht-making yards, the industry spans brokers, lawyers and designers and employs 3,500 people. Each new boat employs 350 people for two years directly and 2,450 people indirectly.
Tom Chant, international development manager of industry body Superyacht UK, says: “The Mediterranean is regarded as the front window of the superyacht industry, but London is the back office. A Dutch yard may build a boat for an Italian owner, but both will fly to London to sign the contract and meet the designer.”
With the super-rich recovering from the financial crisis faster than other people, the outlook is shipshape. Wealthy Chinese, Russian and Arab buyers have started placing orders again and sparked a vogue for mega-yachts, those more than 90m in length. At this size the boats resemble mini-cruise ships.
Pendennis is getting ready for this sea change in favour of bigger boats by adapting its Falmouth yard. Plans include raising the roof in the workshed and having a deeper basin in the dock.
Source: Daily Express, UK.

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