Boat Builder Awards commends youth, experience and resilience

Thursday, 10 December 2020

This year’s virtual edition of the Boat Builder Awards for Business Achievement, held in association with Raymarine, honoured the Lifetime Achievement of Hallberg-Rassy’s Christoph Rassy, awarded its Rising Star to Jack Fenlon of Gulf Craft and celebrated the resilience and achievements of the industry through a difficult 2020.

This sixth edition of the Boat Builder Awards was scheduled to follow its usual format of 10 categories with a grand prize dinner in November, but circumstances dictated otherwise. Undeterred, joint organisers IBI and METSTRADE created a cut-down, pandemic focused awards to run during the virtual METSTRADE Connect 2020 today that revealed all the very best of boatbuilding enterprise.

The Exceptional Commercial Achievement in an Unprecedented Year category, sponsored by Kohler, commenced the virtual ceremony by giving the top honour to Azimut Yachts for its strong commercial performance and the way in which the company stayed safe and fully operational in one of the worst hit regions of Europe. Princess Yachts was given an Honourable Mention.

There were joint winners in the Community Support Initiative, sponsored by Fusion. Brunswick Boat Group and Ferretti were recognised as having responding strongly to local community needs in ways that reflected their expertise and resources. An Honourable Mention was also awarded to Azimut Yachts.

Among a promising field of entries, Silent-Yachts took the Environment Initiative award, sponsored by Confindustria Nautica. The Boat Builder Award judges commended the company for its work in normalising self-sustaining operation in luxury yacht cruising, recognising the value in capturing the hearts and minds of high net worth customers before pushing sustainable technology into mass markets.

This year’s Rising Star, sponsored by Lumishore – was named as Jack Fenlon, the manager at Gulf Craft in the UAE. The judges were impressed by the incredible impact Jack is making in new product development, people skills and production efficiency.

The event’s final category honoured an industry figurehead five decades more senior than Jack, with a track record of having built more than 10,000 yachts. In an extraordinary surprise Lifetime Achievement presentation, Hallberg-Rassy founder, Christoph Rassy, was greeted by Arne Kai Skauen, the former long-standing CEO of category sponsor Sleipner, in a socially distanced meeting of boats off the western coast of Sweden. Visibly moved, Christoph joins a Boat Builder Awards hall of fame that includes Paolo Vitelli, David King, Robert Braithwaite, Annette Roux and Bill and Bob Healey.

IBI Editor and chair of the Boat Builder Awards judges, Ed Slack, commented: “Our congratulations to all who won today and thanks to all companies who somehow found the time among all the turmoil to enter this year. Our industry’s reaction to the opportunities and challenges of 2020 has been incredible in so many ways. No-one would have wished for the test of a pandemic, but we have all learned just what strength in depth we have through this experience. It was good that we were able to celebrate the enterprise and sheer hard work of all boatbuilders at this time.”

Director Maritime METSTRADE, Niels Klarenbeek, added: “The Boat Builder Awards was founded by METSTRADE with our valued partner, IBI, to recognise the important contribution of new recreational craft and superyacht yards to the health of the whole industry. The achievements of builders and their supply chains across the globe have been incredible. That’s why we were determined to stage a special edition of the Boat Builder Awards in our METSTRADE studio today. And despite the fact that it was virtual, together with the organising team, sponsors and judges we made it a fantastic experience.”