Ferrari failing to turn heads? Try showboating with this

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 March, 2006, 12:00am

If a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money, those who really want to do it in style will be out in force at the Gold Coast Boat Show this weekend.

Organisers have gathered 60 boats from the world's most exclusive brands for the show at the aptly named Gold Coast Yacht and Country Club at Castle Peak Bay. It opened yesterday with a seminar on the emerging potential of the mainland market, emphasising the 29 per cent sales tax the nouveau riche can avoid by buying their boat in the city.

Hong Kong's boating market leaves the rest of the region dead in the water when it comes to sales - a relic from the city's colonial days - with luxury boat makers claiming they continue to sell most of their boats in the city.

'There seems to be a more daring culture here that is prepared to go out and buy a nice boat to entertain on,' Gordon Wang Hui-yip, the managing director of British firm Sunseeker's Asia Division said yesterday.

'Singapore and Malaysia have the facilities, but the boating culture that is in Hong Kong is not there.'

Even those without the money to buy James Bond's Superhawk 48, let alone fund the fuel, berthing and cleaning bills for the $4.35 million beast, can talk to dealers about buying a more humble alternative.

While jockey Gerald Mosse fooled around on the Sunseeker Predator 55, which retails for $10 million, Albert Wu, general manager of the Gold Coast Yacht and Country Club, said there were boats available for all budgets.

And after all, Hong Kong was surrounded by water, so there was no reason for not getting out on it.

'There really are boats for all budgets, and people forget about this,' he said.

Mr Wu said times were good again for Hong Kong's boating industry, especially with boats now permitted to cruise to Macau and soon Shenzhen - opening up a playground of 400 nautical miles.

'It means people are no longer limited to cruising to Lamma or Sai Kung - they can get out and go stay in Macau for a night.'

But adventures further into China were still a way off, with each province having its own maritime laws.

'We can definitely see the day when people can cruise to somewhere like Hainan Island,' Mr Wu said. 'The potential is still there but we have a long way to go. People can already enjoy plenty of water space around Hong Kong.'