Nearly two years after her arrival at Yachting Developments in May 2017, Lion New Zealand is safely back in the water after completing a major million-dollar refit at the yard. After making her way from the Yachting Developments yard in Hobsonville, and then having her mast restepped, she relaunched in Auckland at 4pm on 11 March 2019 in front of a crowd of well-wishers.
Following a straightforward launch, Lion New Zealand was rechristened by Bianca Cook, of Yachting Developments, and Michelle Khan and Evelien Van Vliet of the NZ Sailing Trust.
“The relaunch of Lion New Zealand was a very proud moment and the culmination of many months of hard work by our team at Yachting Developments,” says Ian Cook, Managing Director of Yachting Developments.
“After so many years and nautical miles, Lion New Zealand was in need of a refit. The refit work has allowed Lion to have been upgraded and repurposed for her new role. We are proud to have been entrusted with this special project. She is now better than new and ready to get back on the water and allow young New Zealanders to experience the sailing and team building on the Hauraki Gulf.”
A piece of Kiwi yachting history, Lion New Zealand was designed by Ron Holland and launched 34 years ago after being built for Sir Peter Blake’s fourth attempt at the Whitbread Round The World Race in 1985/1986. Now owned by the NZ Sailing Trust, which purchased the yacht in 2008, today Lion New Zealand plays host to thousands of young New Zealanders.
Lion New Zealand’s extensive refit list included colours and new antifouling. The interior was completely upgraded, with all-new a new mast, boom and keel, new rigging, deck winches and electronics, a full paint job in the yacht’s original accommodation and a reconfigured galley and forward area, new electronic, lighting and navigation systems, and new plumbing. Engineering work included new systems including a new propeller shaft, engine and propeller.
A new Volvo engine was also installed in place of the older heavier diesel Gardener engine. Bob Graham, of Yachting Developments, played a key role in the redesign of the yacht, drawing on his years of experience working with Lion, including racing onboard alongside Sir Peter Blake. The yacht will now be lighter, faster and more efficient to run, with all spaces maximised.
“The results of Lion New Zealand’s restoration by Yachting Developments are simply stunning and it was a very emotional day yesterday watching her return to the Waitemata harbour,” says Paul Powney, CEO of the New Zealand Sailing Trust.
“Out of our collaboration with Yachting Developments we now have restored Lion New Zealand so she is configured and fit for her new purpose, without compromising the integrity of the design or her legacy as a Whitbread Maxi.
“Lion’s return alongside our other vessel Steinlager 2 will allow the NZ Sailing Trust to provide youth development sailing programme opportunities for up to 2,000 young New Zealanders each year and allow all New Zealander to enjoy this iconic yacht for many years to come.”
Lion New Zealand will now undergo sea trials before returning to service for the NZ Sailing Trust.