Rivergate and Catalano Shipping Services hosted 16 superyacht captains, sponsors and industry representatives at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron for the inaugural Auckland Superyacht Captains’ Long Lunch.
The lunch was the opportunity for captains and crew from all over the region to socialise and exchange information and opinions about Australia and New Zealand’s prospects in an ever-changing world.
The Members’ Lounge at RNZYS was the ideal venue for the inaugural luncheon and guests were treated to delectable cuisine featuring seasonal produce and seafood, complemented by local wine, with the picturesque backdrop of Waitematā Harbour and, taking pride of place among the vast cabinets of silverware, the America’s Cup.
The aim of the event was to capitalise on the strong bonds between Australia and New Zealand and foster a great connection among superyacht captains in Auckland.
“In many cases, they’re berthed next to each other for months yet may never connect,” said Steve Fisher, Rivergate’s Manager of International Business.
“With so many yachts in the vicinity of Auckland, it’s a great chance to convene a meeting of the minds and connect professionals who have so much in common.”
Among the topics of discussion, COVID-19 was at the forefront, then border lockdowns, travel restrictions, protocols and how the global pandemic has impacted the entire industry.
The captains spoke of the many challenges they faced and the sentiments of their owners, many of whom were taking the opportunity to conduct maintenance and refit work ahead of a planned southern spring and summer of cruising.
On a positive note, captains and industry representatives were optimistic that yachting and charter would remain compelling propositions as they examined what the future could look like.
“Owners, crew and charter guests are eager to explore the world,” said Steve. “COVID has shone the spotlight on the advantages of heading offshore with family and friends and seeing what the world has to offer beyond our home ports.”
The safety, stability and pristine natural wonders in our region are its main selling points.
“As more owners seek to explore further afield, there will be many benefits to the local industry and tourism with the rising appeal of the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand as cruising destinations for international superyachts.”
Following the lunch, emails and texts of thanks flowed in from captains grateful for the show of support and the chance to unwind and socialise with their colleagues.
“Thank you so much for the marvelous lunch at the Squadron. I enjoyed sharing thoughts and stories with my mates,” said one captain.
Sarah Egan, Director of Boatstyle based in Brisbane, said the Auckland Long Lunch is a great initiative, uniting both sides of the Tasman. “The camaraderie was excellent and the conversation was equally fulfilling,” she said.
“The idea of the Australia–New Zealand bubble is an effective marketing strategy for our region. Australia, New Zealand and eventually Fiji, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga. We’re all in the same pond and there is such a depth of talent here, as well as so many options for cruising superyachts to experience.
“COVID has created a new world. Owners are pushing to see more. Our aim should be to promote our region as a safe haven and entice superyachts from Asia and around the world to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific – for them to explore further afield and stay longer.
“Especially now with the new Australian charter legislation, there are so many reasons to stay a few seasons.”
Duthie Lidgard, Managing Director of CSS New Zealand described the lunch as “the ideal networking event. Everyone commented that it was great, and it was perfect timing between restrictions!
“It was valuable getting together to discuss projects we’ve worked on as well as upcoming projects we can collaborate on so vessels spend a full 12 months, or longer, in the South Pacific.”
“Thirty international superyachts came to Auckland for the America’s Cup. They’ve done their time in New Zealand and it’s our objective to get them to stay on and see the rest of the region. The more they enjoy the whole region, the more they’ll spread the word and the tell others to come Down Under.”
Catalano Shipping Services is a global network that provides a seamless experience for large yachts. CSS New Zealand oversees all aspects of shore support from immigration, customs, charter permits to provisioning, itineraries, crew and project management.
“One thing that stuck with me was the bonds between the Australian and New Zealand industries and how together we achieve more,” he said. “We’re looking forward to 2022 when we can make it even bigger and better.”
“The success of this event bodes well for us to establish the Auckland Captains’ Long Lunch as an annual event,” said Steve Fisher.
“We’re already looking at the next one in February 2022, the height of the summer season when many vessels are still in New Zealand after a summer of cruising.”