Longhurst tops up $200m spend with $30m Boat Works expansion amid Gold Coast boating boom

Longhurst tops up $200m spend with $30m Boat Works expansion amid Gold Coast boating boom

The Sanlorenzo superyacht makes a pitstop at The Boat Works

After spending close to $200 million over the past five years expanding The Boat Works on the Gold Coast, Tony Longhurst is splashing another $30 million to fast-track the next stage of development to cater for surging demand from boaties.

In the latest move, the boating and tourism industry pioneer has also acquired additional land to expand the facility further as his existing plans look set to take The Boat Works’ 22ha facility to full capacity.

The Boat Works currently has 70 sheds on site and Longhurst plans to grow capacity by 50 per cent with the new sheds and hardstands through the $30 million investment.

The spend will deliver a new waterfront commercial centre to host boat sales and brokerages at the facility, which is located in the city’s boating industry hub, the Coomera Marine Precinct.

While Longhurst was not immediately available for comment, a spokesperson for The Boat Works says the commercial centre is expected to be opened in May, ahead of the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show.

Demand from marine businesses looking to locate in the Coomera Marine Precinct has also led The Boat Works to optimise its existing land uses, with boat storage set to give way to trades that support the boating industry on the Gold Coast.

“Instead of storage, we are going to build more sheds, more hardstand spaces and more maintenance and refit areas which will double that superyacht area,” says The Boat Works spokesperson. “More shed space, rather than storage, brings more money and jobs to the area.”

The latest expansion comes on the heels of The Boat Works opening it new superyacht facility in 2020, at a time when the boating industry globally was buoyed by overseas travel restrictions during COVID.

The work will double The Boat Works’ superyacht yard over the next year, capitalising on the growing demand for repairs and maintenance of larger vessels on the Gold Coast.

The superyacht industry has gathered momentum since the federal government in 2019 eased restrictions on foreign superyachts looking to charter in Australian waters.

The Gold Coast sector also has been buoyed by new developments in the Southport Broadwater that will accommodate larger yachts visiting the city. Among them is Gordon Corporation's $300-million Mantaray Marina and Residences project which will include a 67-berth marina capable of mooring vessels up to 60 metres long.

Artist's impression of the proposed new commercial centre under construction at The Boat Works

“Two years ago, the superyacht sector boomed due to COVID,” says the spokesperson. “We’ve met our demand and now we need more capacity because we are essentially turning away boats.”

Although The Boat Works recently hosted a 140-foot Sanlorenzo yacht that ‘pit-stopped’ on the Gold Coast for certification work before heading to charter in the Whitsundays, the facility’s ‘bread and butter’ remains 45-foot motor yachts owned by well-heeled retirees.

The wealthy Longhurst family, who pioneered the tourism industry with the development of Dreamworld more than 40 years ago, has been a mainstay of growth for the Gold Coast marine industry.

Longhurst’s brother Rodney is owner and chairman of Riviera, Australia’s largest builder of luxury motor yachts, which occupies 16.8ha of the city’s marine precinct adjacent to The Boat  Works.

“There is a huge demand to accommodate more boats undercover and our 70 sheds have reached capacity,” Tony Longhurst, The Boat Works owner and CEO, says in a statement.

“We are proud to offer new opportunities for growth for all our marine service partners within the facility. Their success in turn enhances our operational efficiency.”

AIMEX-Superyacht Australia CEO David Good has welcomed the latest investment by Longhurst at The Boat Works, particularly plans to double superyacht capacity over the next year.

“The facilities are well and truly needed,” Good says. “Superyacht visitation and the domestic market keep on booming.”  

Good says that since January 2020, the Australian charter yacht fleet has doubled from 59 charter vessels to 120.

“In the lead-up to the Brisbane 2032 Olympics, there will more demand than ever, especially for refit and maintenance facilities.”

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