by Jeni Bone
Horizon Group VP, James Fwu was one of several local identities to address media and VIPS gathered for the pre-show briefing and launch of the 2014 Taiwan International Boat Show, held at the hub of Taiwan yacht building, the industrial centre of Kaohsiung.
Kaohsiung - the Taiwan yacht building hub and site of the 2014 Taiwan International Boat Show.
Mr Fwu introduced the concept of Taiwan yacht building with the claim that the world’s first superyacht was built in the Chinese Ming Dynasty, for Captain 'Zheng-He' who led 27,800 people on 200 more ships (L145m x B60m), on seven voyages in 28 years, sailing down West Pacific to East Africa, to engage in international trade – as well as bringing home a giraffe as a souvenir.
Naval architecture and yacht building developed in the years of 1661 to 1683, during the Ming Dynasty, when General 'Zheng Cheng-Gong' led his troops to protect island aboriginals from Dutch and Spanish invasion.
In the 1960s, Taiwan became the base of the American Navy, and the very first wooden sail yacht was designed and built, giving dramatic impetus to the formation of the contemporary Taiwan yacht industry.
In 1976, the Taiwanese Government gathered 120 Naval Architects and Marine engineers, set up a non-profit organization known as the 'United Ship Design & Development Center', today known as the Taiwan Yacht Industry Association (TYIA). Today, there are 33 builders and 34 solid supplier companies in the group, justifiably proud of their seventh place ranking in terms of length in the global superyacht sector (Showboats International).
Here, he sheds light on the current status and ambition of the TYIA and its 'customised rather than mass production approach'.