Record number of superyachts booked for America's Cup

A record number of superyachts are booked to come to the America's Cup - along with the billionaires that go with them.

Newshub has discovered so many are coming here that there are concerns about the industry's ability to service them.

It's known as Site 18, a nondescript slice of under-utilised waterfront land.

But it is the key to luring in some of the world's wealthiest people and getting them to spend their money here.

To do that Orams Marine is spending $140 million to extend its marine facility to service superyachts and build 136 luxury apartments.

Neven Barbour says it will create at least 500 jobs, that will last well beyond the America's Cup.

"It's an essential catalyst to keep boats coming to New Zealand and making people aware of where New Zealand is and therefore with the right facility opening us up to the right world markets."

Those markets are lucrative, as 104 superyachts came to Auckland for the last America's Cup in 2003. They spent at least $2m each while they were here.

"With this facility up and ready for the America's Cup, they're trebling their capacity and growing Auckland's marine industry," says Panuku waterfront development director Katelyn Orton.

The longer the superyachts stay the more money they spend, so the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has come up with a year-long schedule of events.

"Originally I was saying the stars have aligned perfectly with having our 150th year and an America's Cup defence but now I'm saying the stars are colliding because there's so much going to be happening," general manager Hayden Porter says.

For the first time ever the J-Class yachts will race in New Zealand. Built in the 1930s, they're widely considered to be the most iconic America's Cup yachts ever.

"These are 40 to 45-metre superyachts in their own rights, with sails the size of rugby fields and 40 professional crew on board," Porter says.

They will stay for at least six months with their billionaire owners pouring millions into the economy.   

"They don't order a case, they order a pallet so it will have a massive economic impact," Porter says.

"Our focus here at the squadron is really to get as many superyachts down here as humanly possible because for every extra one there's an extra $3-5 million additional into the economy."

There will also be a Sydney-to-Auckland race similar to the Sydney-to-Hobart and with some big names set to sail the Tasman including Wild Oats.

"It's a different world. It's next level," Porter says.

And there's one thing that could truly take it next level. Newshub understands an invitation has been extended to Prince William.

If he comes it would dwarf the attention any billionaire can bring.


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