THE Gold Coast’s ailing marine sector will receive an estimated $9 million boost as the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet docks here for repairs.

Marine tradesmen will refit and repair the fleet following damage and wear caused during 28,968km of sailing, including the harrowing Southern Ocean leg.

Race organisers scheduled the Gold Coast stopover as a midway point in the 11-month race because of the facilities offered at the Gold Coast Marine Precinct.

The maintenance and repair program will be part of an economic injection for the Gold Coast, which also includes accommodation for crew and supporters, and preparing the boats for the 8000km leg to Singapore.

Re-provisioning the boats alone will cost $40,000 for the race to Singapore and the fleet will stock up with 5000 litres of diesel.

The 10 stripped back racing yachts will be piloted from the Southport Yacht Club to the Gold Coast Marine Precinct soon after completing the ‘sprint’ race from New Zealand. The boats are scheduled to arrive on December 11-13 after setting out from Tauranga on December 4.

The Gold Coast Australia yacht (pictured), skippered by Tasmanian Richard Hewson, is tipped to make a victorious homecoming on December 11 following the sprint from New Zealand’s Tauranga.

The Boat Works’ 45 tonne sea lift – a first of its kind in the southern hemisphere – will bring the 68 foot ocean racers to hardstands. The lift boasts dual hydraulic fingers which allow both vertical and horizontal adjustment with pressure adjustable cushioning airbags.

Boat Works’ general manager David Whyte, says the multi-skilled services include tradesmen proficient in everything from anti-fouling to engineering, upholstery, sail work – ‘a whole gamut of marine services’.

“We’ll be lifting and setting the yachts on the hardstand for works, water blasting and cleaning the hulls,’’ he says.

“The fleet will have been through some heavy going so significant maintenance such as sail and equipment repair will be expected.”

The Gold Coast Marine Precinct hosts some of Australia’s premier industry suppliers.

In addition to maintenance technicians, the precinct includes luxury fibreglass boat builders, aluminium small craft manufacturers, outboard motor and diesel engine distributors, engineers and repair companies.

According to the Gold Coast City Council Industry Survey 2011, around third of companies at the Gold Coast Marine Precinct describe their core business as services, while 26.7 per cent list manufacturing and 15.8 per cent retailing.

Gold Coast City Council’s Chair of Economic Development Councillor Susie Douglas, says the Clipper Race Series is the perfect way to showcase the city’s marine sector.

“The Gold Coast has 260kms of navigable waterways - more than Venice - and we have one of the highest boat ownerships per capita of population in Australia,’’ says Cr Douglas.

“There is more than 2300 staff employed full time in our marine industry which includes some of Australia’s leading luxury craft manufacturers and service groups. Our marine workforce is among the best skilled in Australia and the Clipper fleet will head off to Singapore with confidence.’’

Key marine centre facts
• 646 actively trading businesses
• 49.1 per cent of precinct businesses receive revenue from online trading
• 35.8 per cent of revenue comes from interstate
• Estimated annual revenue of $419.9 million
• Median age of businesses is 14.5 years
• 10 per cent of companies export products
• One-third of the core business activity is in services

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