AUSTRALIAN ship designer and builder Wavemaster International is close to completing a deal to build two high-speed ferries for Chinese owners to put into service outside the Pearl River delta region. Wavemaster managing director Mr John Mason said he expected the deal to be completed within a month. ''Chinese officials have been very responsive to our fast ferries and virtually every government and marine authority is keen to know what we can offer,'' he said. He said a major attraction was that investment in the fast ferry meant being able to move large numbers of people without the Government having to invest in other infrastructure as adequate ports and berths already existed. Mr Mason said his company had developed a high speed mono-hull vessel that could be fitted with stabilising equipment - the first of its kind - to reduce rolling and pitching of vessels. He said China's transportation system was lagging and it would need a lot of money to develop highways, freeways and airports. In areas with water access but lacking airport facilities, high-speed ferries could provide a cheap means of travel. As an example, he said travelling time between areas surrounding the Bohai Sea in northern China could be reduced from three days of train travel to three hours by fast ferry. Mr Mason predicted that China would move strongly towards replacing its existing slow ferries with high-speed alternatives. While present high-speed ferries had a 500 to 600 passengers capacity, his company was aiming in the near future to build ferries to transport 1,000 passengers, he said. Building such high-capacity vessels, would help reduce ticket prices and make travel affordable for more people. He explained that while the price of building a 15-metre, high-speed ferry and a catamaran of similar dimensions was almost the same, the former could carry more passengers because of its design and therefore offer lower operating costs. Wavemaster delivered the Peng Lai Hu, the third ferry the company had built for the Jiang-men Hongkong-Macau Joint Passenger Transportation Co, on Saturday. A fourth vessel has been scheduled for completion in August. The company will scheduled to deliver the 39-metre long Nansha 11, which has a 300 passengers capacity and speed of up to 40 knots, to Panyu Nansha Ferry Co, a Hongkong-China joint venture today. The vessel, powered by twin 5,000 horsepower German MTU diesel water-jet engines, also has been fitted with night-vision radar. A follow-up order, the Nansha 12 scheduled for completion in July, will have four-engines with a 380 passengers capacity and a top speed of 47.5 knots. Wavemaster reported a turnover of A$52 million (HK$229 million) contracts last year. Wavemaster's sister company, Boat Touquet Cruises has sold another vessel to China.