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Neville 'Croaky' Crichton receives New Zealand Honour

by Richard Gladwell on 4 Jun 2012
Neville Crichton, owner of Alfa Romeo Line honour winner of the 2009 edition in 2 days 09 hours 02 minutes and 10 seconds. Rolex Sydney to Hobart 2009 © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/

Champion yachtsman and businessman, Neville Crichton (67) has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and yachting.

Crichton started sailing P-class in New Zealand before moving into motor racing.

After running a successful vehicle dealership, in conjunction with now Sir Colin Giltrap, in New Zealand he moved to Hawaii.

[Sorry, this content could not be displayed] There in 1978, aged 29, he was diagnosed with throat cancer, eventually had his voice-box and oesophagus removed.
He was told that it would be unlikely he could ever speak again, but surgery resulted in him being fitted with an artificial voice box, which enable him to speak by manually pumping air into the device. His new husky voice earned him the name 'Croaky' which has remained with him all his life.

The operation left him in the situation, that if ever he fell overboard he would drown.

Notwithstanding that risk, Crichton commissioned his first big boat, with Shockwave, which sailed in the Clipper Cup, and then built a second Shockwave in which represented New Zealand, as the only NZ built and owned yacht in in the 1983 Admirals Cup, sailing at Cowes. The other two yachts were charter boats - Swuzzlebubble skippered by Ian Gibbs and Lady Be, skippered by Peter Blake

Crichton helped found Alloy Yachts in New Zealand , commissioning several superyachts which were subsequently sold internationally, and which helped launch the superyacht industry in New Zealand

Now based in Sydney Crichton was recently recognised in the 2012 World Superyacht Awards in Europe where he was honoured with the Legacy Award for his outstanding contribution to the industry over many years.

In 2002 he launched the first of a series of Alfa Romeo supermaxi and maxi racing yachts.

Alfa Romeo I was a 27.43-metre (90.0 ft) fixed keel 'supermaxi' yacht, launched in July 2002. She was designed by Reichel/Pugh, and built by McConaghy Boats, Sydney, Australia using carbon fiber composite construction. Southern Spars of Auckland, New Zealand built her carbon fibre mast. She was first to finish in at least 74 races around the world. She placed first in the 2002 Sydney-Hobart race and the prestigious 2003 Giraglia Rolex cup regatta. Alfa Romeo was also first to finish in the 2003 Fastnet race. She later was renamed Shockwave, and then Rambler.

In 2003, Crichton was named Yachting New Zealand's 'Sailor of the Year' for his accomplishments with Alfa Romeo I

She was followed by Alfa Romeo II a 30-meter (98.4 ft) carbon fiber 'supermaxi' racing yacht. Also designed by Reichel/Pugh she measured 30.48 m (100.0 ft) overall. Features include a 44 m (144 ft) carbon fiber mast built by Southern Spars, water ballast, and a canting keel. Alfa Romeo II has been described as the fastest supermaxi monohull in the world, capable of 35 knots downwind in a fresh breeze. The boat was notable for the use of hydraulics to drive the winch systems and control the canting keel mechanism.

She was first-to-finish in the 2009 Tranpacific Yacht Race ('the Transpac'), she also set a new elapsed-time Transpac race record for monohulls. She has been first to finish in at least 140 races, including the 2009 Sydney Hobart Race.

Alfa Romeo III is a 21-meter (69 ft) 'mini-maxi' built to compete with other smaller boats in shorter distance races under IRC rules. In September 2008, she was twice first to finish in Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup competition, with Torben Grael skippering.

Despite living outside New Zealand for the majority of his life, Crichton is a fiercely proud New Zealander, always retaining a strong relationship with his native country. All his yachts have sailed under the burgee of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, have flown the New Zealand ensign, and carry New Zealand registration sail numbers.

A fiercely competitive racing sailor, Crichton's campaigns are now run with professional crews drawn from the ranks of professional sailors who have raced in America's Cup and Round the World races, many of whom go back to Crichton's campaigns back in the early 1980's.

A self-made man, Crichton brings to his sailing and business a very hard and competitive edge, combined with some very straight and direct thinking. Neville Crichton is an excellent skipper and helmsman in his own right, and is more than capable of standing alongside many of those from the professional sailing ranks. He has always played an extremely active role in leading his crews, with always very succinct, incisive and direct input.

In his business life Crichton has run a succession of successful auto motive businesses. His Ateco Group, operates on both sides of the Tasman, carrying marque cars including Ferrari, Maserati, Citroen and Lotus.



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