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Sailing to Success

On the bright morning of 30 August, a 45-foot Jeanneau sailboat coasted gracefully on the waters of Discovery Bay into the all-new marina, marking the soft opening of the Lantau Yacht Club.

The former marina on the same site first opened its doors in 1989. After a long-overdue renovation, which commenced in early 2019, the Lantau Yacht Club (LYC) now boasts a fully upgraded marina and much improved clubhouse facilities.

In spite of the current pandemic, which has put many business activities on hold, the Club’s refurbishment project has been able to continue largely without interruption. The Marina Office and Phase 1 of the Marina opened as scheduled in August, while renovation work on the rest of the Marina and the clubhouse is due for completion by the end of the year.

“The Marina Projects UK, one of the world’s leading marina consultants, was appointed to advise on the masterplan design, berth mix and technical provisions of the LYC Marina,” said Victor Cha, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of HKR International (HKRI).

“The pandemic did slightly affect the production schedule of certain hardware for the marina, but we were lucky with the weather, so the overall refurbishment schedule was not much affected.”

The Lantau Yacht Club is a by invitation only member club, serving the leisure yachting community. It is part of HKRI – the shareholder of Hong Kong Resort Company Limited, which owns and manages the Discovery Bay community on Lantau Island, among others.

The club provides a high level of service that you would expect to find in a world-class marina. It accommodates 148 wet berths ranging from 10 to over 60 metres, as well as dry stacks with a maximum length of 12 metres.

“We have 24-hour mooring assistance and security, a pump-out station, and a petrol and diesel fuel gas station,” said Ivan Lee, Vice President of Lantau Yacht Club, adding that the marina also provides a dedicated electricity supply sufficient to charge superyachts.

The clubhouse will be offering international dining experience and extensive event space when it opens later this year, as well as concierge services.

The marina is also technologically advanced, Lee explained. It is equipped with an advanced marina management system for a seamless customer experience, and onsite IT provisions are also of the highest level with a 4G – soon-to-be 5G – mobile network.

In terms of the new features that distinguish Lantau Yacht Club, Lee explained: “The new marina of our club is the first and only international standard berthing facility in Hong Kong custom-built to specifically cater for megayachts.”

Indeed, when the original marina was built over three decades ago, it was designed to handle the yacht sizes that were common at that time. The renovation has upgraded the facilities to accommodate the megayachts that have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Lantau Yacht Club also has concrete pontoons, which are a rarity in marinas in the region, giving visitors the same feeling as if walking on land.

Lee also takes pride in the marina’s breakwater, which is the sole infrastructure that has not been changed during the refurbishment. It has proved its worth and sturdiness over several decades, he explained, most recently in 2018 when Hong Kong was hit by Typhoon Mangkhut – the strongest typhoon seen by the city in 30 years.

Victor Cha pointed out that Hong Kong is Asia’s hub for the leisure boating industry. Plentiful buyers, top facilities, and a skilled and knowledgeable workforce in the field put the city ahead of other Asian locations, making Hong Kong the largest and also a very mature market for yachts.

It might come as a surprise that yachting business in Hong Kong and in Asia has not been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has taken such a toll on the majority of industries. The explanation for this seems to be that more people have been drawn to the safety and seclusion of private yachts. In fact, Italian luxury yacht builder Ferretti Group has reported record sales in Asia Pacific for 2020, while Hong Kong recently emerged as one of the top destinations for yacht deliveries in the world.

Hong Kong has been the hub of regional yachting activities, so there is great potential for the city to capitalise further on the growth of the sector. This will, in turn, benefit the local economy, as Cha explained.

“Marinas, together with yachting businesses, form part of the recreational boating industry that creates employment and brings taxation to the local government, directly and indirectly through related industries including repair and maintenance, hotels, restaurants, visitor attractions and travel agents,” he said.

However, it appears that there is still some way to go before we can take full advantage of the opportunities. Cha explained that regulatory issues and a lack of berthing space have been hindering the development of the local yacht industry in recent years. The absence of mooring and facilities tailor-made for superyachts had also been an obstacle, as there had been no new marina developments in the past decade or so.

The refurbished Lantau Yacht Club therefore is a welcome addition. Moreover, its location – Lantau Island – enjoys a strategic position in Asia and is a recognised gateway to Mainland China. Lantau Yacht Club can serve as a key transit location for yachts sailing in the region, or en route to China for sightseeing or obtaining supplies.

The growing wealth in the region, particularly in China, bodes well for the Asian yacht market, and being in proximity to the Mainland gives Hong Kong an edge in this department. The increasing trend of superyachts coming to the Asia Pacific will also boost the tourism sector more generally, with increased visitor numbers and greater revenue.

To ensure that Hong Kong is primed to make the most of these opportunities, Lantau Yacht Club works with local and regional yachting associations to share its views and suggestions on promoting Hong Kong as a yachting destination. Cooperation with government organizations is another item high on its agenda, to create synergy for the industry. For example, the Hong Kong Tourism Board has been devoting increasing resources to promote cruise tourism, but Cha believes that more could be done to attract yacht tourists.

There is a very good reason to encourage the yacht segment, as Cha explained: “Yachting tourists spend a few times more in the local economy than a cruise ship tourist.”

The growth in the sector and the size of the yachts have not been the only changes in the industry in recent years. As climate change becomes an increasingly clear threat to the planet, many businesses are turning to more sustainable practices.

For its part, Lantau Yacht Club has taken action including the progressive ban of single-use plastic, implementing eco-initiatives and imposing fines for polluting and littering. As it opens a new chapter in its history, the club has made it its mission to promote and develop a sustainable – as well as luxurious and enjoyable – yachting lifestyle.

 

Company : HKR International Ltd

HKGCC Membership No. : HKH0718

Established : 1977

Website : https://www.hkri.com/

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