In an immense shed at Henderson, south of Perth, a team of veteran ship builders and a Singaporean client are setting out to reinvigorate the state’s superyacht industry.
Their showcase is impressive: two record-breaking superyachts. The 84-metre luxury aluminium White Rabbit Golf, is the largest trimaran superyacht in the world plus the largest and first diesel electric superyacht, to be built in Australia. Its shadow vessel, a 46-metre composite catamaran, is the largest vacuum infused vessel built in Australia and one of the largest GRP vessels to be built here.
Claiming the new benchmarks is Echo Yachts, a privately owned venture led by experienced superyacht and fast craft specialists with a background in the manufacture and repair of vessels to serve Australia’s off-shore oil and gas projects. The company’s portfolio also includes wave piercing ferries, crew transfer vessels and offshore windfarm support vessels.
The Echo Yachts team and their client, a Singapore superyacht enthusiast, see the latest project as proof of Australia’s capability to compete in the world’s glamorous superyacht manufacturing industry.
The client approached veteran shipbuilders Mark Stothard, Jurien Van Rongen and Nick Gardiner from Evolution Commercial to take on the project and the company Echo Yachts was born. The number of workers at Echo has since jumped from 50 to 300 engineers, designers and craftsmen skilled in building and fitting out steel, aluminium, composite and combination marine vessels.
“There was a bit of philanthropy in our client supporting us and the build. He wanted to support a skilled industry here in Australia that he was passionate about,” says co-director Mark Stothard.
“Australia can excel at the construction of one-off unique vessels that would intimidate the big rival shipyards of Asia and Europe that prefer the predictability and repeatability of building the same or similar designs again and again.
“We in WA as a shipbuilding state have proven we’re very good at doing one-off custom projects and it is this, coupled with our experience and flexibility, that we bring to the table.”
“… the shadow vessel is a showcase of the best that can be achieved with composites” – Echo Yachts co-director Jurien van Rongen
The luxury trimaran, styled externally and internally by Fremantle’s Sam Sorgiovanni with the naval architecture by Sydney’s One 2 Three Naval Architects, will accommodate 22 guests and 30 crew. The shadow vessel, designed by LOMOcean in New Zealand, was built with a full GURIT materials package supplied by Summit Composites and mechanical testing by GURIT .
Launched in early February 2017, the shadow vessel caters for 11 guests and 11 crew, and all the luxury “toys” and exploration equipment the superyacht lifestyle desires including helicopter, hovercraft, catamaran and jet skis. Its impressive strength to weight ratio will see the Shadow efficiently, and comfortably cruise in a wide range of environments.
“Just as White Rabbit Golf demonstrates all that can be achieved in quality and performance with aluminium, the shadow vessel is a showcase of the best that can be achieved with composites,” says co-director Jurien van Rongen.
“We invested a large amount of R&D design and engineering work in the project prior to the start of the build to ensure a construction process that is extremely efficient without any compromise on quality.
“We are using cutting edge laminates and building processes that have proven to produce high quality CNC cut moulds at a fraction of the man hours traditional mould making methods take.
“Our focus on R&D, harnessing innovation and transferring skills and knowledge to the younger members of our team are core to achieving our goals – a sustainable super yacht industry producing the highest quality builds that meet our client’s requirements, while achieving cost efficiencies that keep us competitive with the best in the world.”