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Forget the pandemic, super yachts are making a huge splash in Queensland


Local buyers are joining a multimillion-dollar trend by splashing out on luxury superyachts, often buying sight unseen, with the number of arrivals of the lavishly appointed craft into Queensland up to four times higher than previous levels.

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The influx of superyachts reflects a global trend that has sent sales of luxury leisure craft to a record high over the past year.

Jason Roberts, managing director of Brisbane-based Aurora Global Logistics, Australia’s leading international yacht transport and customs brokerage, said there had been a major increase in boats of all sizes moving into Australia since the pandemic started, particularly superyachts.

The superyachts coming in were a mix of new craft, as well as superyachts that had previously been in Europe or the United States coming home, he said.

They include the 68-metre Lady Christine superyacht, worth $82 million, that’s been in Queensland for a multi-million dollar facelift at the Gold Coast marine precinct. Owned by British billionaire, Lord Irvine Laidlaw who is a former member of the House of Lords and founder of the Institute for International Research, it’s understood to be being used by George Clooney and Julia Roberts for their latest blockbuster being filmed in Queensland.

Superyachts are generally defined as a boat more than 24 metres in length. Most of the flotilla of Australia-bound superyachts have been arriving in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, as well as Sydney.

“There’s a lot coming now for refit and visitation. It’s never been like this,” Roberts said.

“A lot of owners who’ve always had their boats over in Europe or the US, they can’t use them, so they are bringing them back home.

“But there’s also a lot of people who are cashed up during the pandemic and they are buying a boat and buying them sight unseen using brokers and professionals to check the boat.

“We’ve brought in at least three or four boats where the owners haven’t been onboard before.”

Roberts said there had been around a 35 per cent increase in motor yachts over 35 metres in length entering Australia, compared to pre-Covid.

Aurora Yacht Logistics prepares a 60-foot sports superyacht to depart Brisbane for Savannah, Georgia last April.

In the last 12 months, Aurora Yacht Logistics had shipped or entry-assisted more than 20 superyachts over 38 metres in length into Australia.

He said, along with other transporters, close to 40 superyachts had been brought into Australia in the past year, compared to around 10 superyachts in a “normal” year.

“We’re at the frontline of assisting these vessels logistically enter Australia, both in terms of their movement across the globe but also our services in managing Australia’s stringent customs, immigration and biosecurity entry requirements, so we are seeing a noticeable and exciting increase,” Roberts said.

“There’s boats for sale everywhere at the moment. Australia seems to have a bit of money so everyone seems to be buying a boat.

“We’ve got a 75-metre we’re bringing in at the moment. It would be worth around US$35 or $40 million.”

Jason Roberts, Kane Bygrave and Gemma West

Roberts said the superyacht arrivals were also a boon for Queensland and Australian ports.

“Every yacht that comes in usually spends 10 per cent of its value every 12 months,” he said.

“So, if you’ve got a $30 million yacht, it’s spending $3 million per year in the local economy. That’s on fuel, berthing, crew, provedores, all sorts of things.”
The millionaire superyacht craze is currently in the spotlight, with protesters vowing to pelt Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ new $500 million yacht, currently known as Y721, with rotten eggs in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.

The vessel is reportedly so big, that the city’s historic Koningshaven Bridge is to be temporarily dismantled just so the superyacht can pass.
The superyacht, measuring 127 metres and with 40-metre masts, will reportedly be the largest sailing yacht in the world when it launches.

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