China's first super-yacht set for round-the-world trip
It may look like something from another planet - but this is, in fact, China's first homegrown super-yacht and the fruit of an eight-year dream for its owner, Hong Kong shipping magnate Antony Marden.
The 140 foot Adastra, built at a cost of US$15 million, was unveiled last week at the Zhuhai facility of Australian boatbuilder McConaghy.
The trimaran, hailed as 'one of the world's most amazing super-yachts, that could spell the future for efficient long-range cruising' by Boat International magazine, combines luxury accommodation with the speed, fuel economy and seafaring capacity of a stripped-down cruiser.
The boatbuilder puts its range, at a speed of 17 knots, at 4,000 nautical miles - enough to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
And Marden, 62, cannot wait to put the yacht through its paces when he sets off on a round-the-world trip at Christmas, eight years after first discussing his plans with English designer John Shuttleworth.
'I've known John [Shuttleworth] for over 30 years but we started to get serious about the project around eight years ago,' Marden, managing director of shipping firm Fenwick, said. 'I wanted a big motorboat to go around the world in and the trimaran is perfect. It's easily driven and I'm used to sailing them.
'I've been planning to go exploring for a long time and it looks like it's now going to happen.'
Marden says he was not looking for something as radical as the space-age design of the Adastra, which can accommodate up to nine guests and six crew, but praised McConaghy, Shuttleworth and Hong Kong firm Jepsen Designs, which was responsible for the stylish interiors.
'I learned to sail in Hong Kong and I've always liked to explore,' he said. 'I've explored all over Southeast Asia in my sailboat and I've been everywhere. But we needed something like this for a round-the-world trip, which can do at least a steady 12 or 14 knots. The world is a big place; you've got to use some power to get around it.'
Marden, son of the late John Marden, former head of the Wheelock Marden conglomerate, has not taken the boat out for a spin yet, as work is continuing on it in Zhuhai, but he hopes to have it in Hong Kong by May 10.
'We plan to take her out for some speed trials in Zhuhai next week; however there's still a lot of work to be done,' he said.
Marden, 62, said Zhuhai had emerged as the world centre for boatbuilding and had been for the last decade.
'Everything is made in China, so why not boats? All the big brand names have moved to China now and are building boats there,' he said. 'This is the first super-yacht that's ever been built in China so it's groundbreaking.'
The Adastra ranks well behind the mega yacht bought at a cost of ?300 million (HK$3.75 billion) by Russian tycoon and Chelsea soccer boss Roman Abramovich, which features two swimming pools, two helipads, a gym, hair salon, dance floor and 12 massive staterooms.
But, in time, Marden believes that such yachts will take shape in China and find buyers among the mainland's emerging tycoon class. 'Anything that is conspicuous consumption is bound to be wanted,' he said. 'If people want to buy yachts to show how rich they are, then fine. On that basis I don't see why China should be different from anywhere else.'
Crew that Adastra, the super-yacht, can accommodate
- The mega yacht of Roman Abramovich can fit 50 crew