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Superyacht builders create hi-tech outriggers at Boat Show

by Rebecca Hayter on 16 Sep 2011
Boat construction - Auckland International Boat Show, 16 September 2011 . ..

As Rugby World Cup fever warms up, the Auckland International Boat Show is displaying what may be the world’s most glamorous outrigger canoes.

The boat show is based in the new Viaduct Events Centre in the Viaduct Harbour from 15 to 18 September.

Teams of apprentices are taking part in the NZ Marine Industry Training Organisation’s International Boatbuilding Competition to create plenty of colourful action for visitors to the show on Saturday. The competition has two parts: the apprentices have built hi-tech, outrigger canoes to compete for the most innovative category and will race them under sail, paddle and outboard on Saturday in the Viaduct Harbour. Mayor Len Brown will address the teams at 2pm, with racing to commence at 3pm in front of the Viaduct Events Centre.

From 10am to noon on Saturday, the teams will build another fleet of outriggers from plywood. They will be judged on standard of build, team spirit and presentation – in the tight time frame, not all teams are expected to finish.
The five teams are made up of apprentices which build boats or masts for the superyacht industry; every team represents a country competing in Rugby World Cup 2011.

An early favourite is SMI (Superyacht Marine Interiors) which has done a grand job for Ireland. The team’s initial gameplan for an Irish pub theme was dropped in favour of taking inspiration from the Giant’s Causeway, a famous landmark in Ireland.

The team of apprentices – Daniel Bliss, Leon Tonner, Matt Webster and Wayne Keller – blended the theme with Celtic knotwork and the SMI logo to create a tessellating pattern, a geometric term for a pattern which repeats within itself. The team used makore, and light and dark sapele mahogany, to create a three-dimensional effect, making stunning use of their cabinetmaking skills.

The rudder is in a cassette in the transom to keep it for’ard of the outboard engine mount. The hydro-dynamically designed rudder is lightweight, with pyrex and stainless steel rods for the length above the waterline. The tiller is spring-loaded with a ball spring as auto-pilot – set and forget.

The outrigger hull is secured with wavey, hollow beams in an octagonal cross-section.


Alloy Yachts has created an understated pair of hulls in dark blue, carrying the rooster emblem on the bows for the French rugby team. New Zealand’s renowned superyacht builder is known for its highly developed technology but its outrigger is a minimalist concept, with the two hulls connected by teak spars, secured by stainless steel bands.

Fitzroy Yachts’ creation features the Ranfurly Shield, held by Taranaki, and represents the puma, and the green and white of Argentina. The team of Matthew Stephens, Jordan Pretty, Brendan Hodge and Aaron Green have demonstrated their cabinetmaking skills in the decking which features teak with wenge inlay.

But wait for the bling – the yacht features several lights either side; the carbon fibre-lined mastbox features bright-blue, back-lit signs for each mast control.

Kiwi-Aussie rivalry is alive and well in the Superyacht Interiors NZ entry, named Underarm and featuring a giant wallaby in the cockpit. Kieran Rowe, Phil Dack, Chris Marsh, Michael Shieffelbein and Phil Webb gave their hull a moderate vee and placed their cross beams across the entire beam to avoid point-loading.

The transom and bow are both raked; the raked bow allows a flared hull which makes it easier to paddle, as does the raised sole.

An unusual feature is the sliding leeboard on the port side of the main hull. The outboard mounts on the aft cross beam, which allows the tiller to be used for steerage when the boat is raced under motor. The Wallaby decal on the main hull was hand painted.


The NZ Marine team’s entry comprised two apprentices each from Cookson Boats and Southern Spars. Painted plain black, the boat isn’t going for the prettiest award but the team of Andrew Durie, Benny Butcher, Owen McLeary and Jamie Woodhouse took inspiration from the America’s Cup catamaran, the AC45, with a reverse raked bow and transom for longer waterline.

Mindful of the need to douse the spinnaker quickly they have added a retrieval line and lazy sheet so the helmsman can bring it in quickly – a huge advantage in coming around the bottom mark.

NZ Marine Industry Training Organisation is holding the International Boatbuilding Competition to promote the skills in the marine industry and to encourage young people to consider becoming an apprentice in the world’s most respected boatbuilding training program. Staff from NZ Marine ITO will be on the stand to discuss career options.


Auckland International Boat Show
Auckland Viaduct Harbour
15 – 18 September 2011
10am to 6pm daily
Adult day pass $20; online $18
Child 5 - 15yr, day pass NZ $8; online $6
Child under 5 Free
Family day pass NZ $40; online $33
Adult 4 day pass NZ $30; online $30

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