In three years, Elandra Yachts has produced four of their Elandra 53s, is well underway with the all new Elandra 49 and has established dealerships outside Australia in the US and NZ. However what is very significant about the company is the fact they chose to go against the trend. While most new boat projects of this nature would see them built in China or Taiwan, they chose to stay in Australia. Barry Thompson sat down for a chat with Luke Durman, the founder and owner of Elandra Yachts, plus marine designer and GM Grant Senior and stylist-designer Tom Barry-Cotter, about the company and their expectations for the future.
Where did the Elandra name come from?
We were looking for a name that was uniquely Australian and I found an Aboriginal word, Elandra, which translates to, your home by the sea, which was perfect. Our logo is a Maori fish scale pattern and we have incorporated black and gold to represent New Zealand and Australia.
When did Elandra Yachts start?
Elandra was formed in Nov 2012, but it wasn’t until March 2013 that things started to happen. Before that Tom, Grant and myself meet to discuss and work on the design for the 53. Once we signed the lease on the premises in Arundel, it all moved ahead at a rapid rate, with the building of the plugs and moulds. It was a real Kiwi affair there at the start with well-known Kiwi boat builder Bill Cranston in charge of preparing the plugs and building the moulds. It wasn’t until April 2014 that we started building the first boat and we launched it September of that year. We are now up to #5, with the first four all sold to Sydney buyers and the fifth our first boat to the US. We plan to have this to the US in time for the Ft Lauderdale Show in early November.
Why Build in Australia?
Right now it is financially better to build in Australia than somewhere like Taiwan or China and we feel we can be 100% assured of the quality of our boats. We have the skills locally to build as good, if not better than anywhere in the world and that is a very important feature of the Elandra brand. We can test the boats in local conditions and our clients have easy access to their boat while in build. Everything that goes into the construction of the boat is weighed and measured so we have a very accurate record of weight distribution and so they’re no surprises at the end.
What has market acceptance been like?
We have been extremely pleased with the acceptance in the market and sales to date. It’s a very difficult process to sell an absolutely new brand into not just the local market, but overseas, so while the number of boats built to date isn’t huge, it has given us the confidence to know we have market acceptance, we just need some more traction. Hopefully, once the first Elandra 53 is shown in the US, this will happen. It was disappointing to miss the Sydney Boat Show in 2014, but really it hasn’t affected our sales and we have been building to current capacity since the first boat was launched. As I said being a new brand presents a lot of challenges and people want to know if you are going to be still around in 3 years, so releasing the second model was important for our credibility. We needed to show we are not a one boat wonder. We have a strategic direction where we want to take the brand.
What is so special about an Elandra?
We wanted the opportunity to do something different and as both Tom and myself came out of Maritimo (Tom is Maritimo founder, Bill Barry-Cotter’s son and Luke his stepson), we had a good understanding of the market and what people wanted. We felt there was a niche in the market for a high quality, performance based sport yacht that we could market globally, especially the US.
What is your capability & models?
From this facility we are looking at around six boats a year, depending on the model make-up. Right now we have the Elandra 53 and will be launching the Elandra 49 at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in May. The reason for the 49 was customer driven and while they were blown away by the finish, performance and style, they wanted something smaller and more affordable. The 49 is a more entry level boat and comes in at around $AU350,000 less than the 53. We want to sit in that 50-70ft segment and where ever you build you need to have a local market for your boats at an affordable price range and it’s that size range we see as being ideal for potential buyers Australia and New Zealand. We do have a 60ft plus model in design but have no timeframe as yet to when that will be released.
Are both boats out of the same mould?
No, although we have used some componentry of the 53 and worked them into the 49 for both cost and aesthetic reasons. The 53 carries a 5.25m beam and the 49 are 5.05m, so we have two separate hull and deck moulds. Both boats look very similar both externally and in the layouts, it’s just really the physical dimensions that change. This will be a theme for any future models, so they are all instantly recognisable as Elandra Yachts.
What about flybridge models?
Not at this stage, but that is something that we will probably look at in the future. We can utilise the same hull and probably just modify the superstructure to change it into a hardtop or open flybridge, but it is not something we have planned in the short term. The Elandra brand wants to be synonymous with sport yachts, which is our niche in the market. To be honest, no one has actually asked us for a flybridge.
Was speed a criteria?
The target for the Elandra 53 was to be a boat that would perform well without having to push a lot of horsepower at it and have 8%-9% better fuel efficiency than any of the leading shaft drive manufacturers on the market. In fact, in some ranges it has proven 11%-12% better and when compared to some of the well known UK and Italian built boats, it is up to 30% better. One in every four full-ups is free! It had to do over 30 knots in just about any conditions and when it was loaded with fuel and gear. We have certainly achieved that with speeds around 34 knots recorded for every boat so far. All have been powered with twin MAN D11 @ 800hp, but other engine packages are available should someone want something different.
What about Pod Drives?
We haven’t done one and no one has asked for it either. Every boat has been traditional shaft drive and we are more than happy with the results. The way we have designed the boat we have better efficiency than a similarly rated pod drive engine package so really it’s not something we want to pursue.
How do you see the boating market ahead?
It’s not what it was 5-6 years ago, but there is some steady growth, with customers back and they are buying. It will never get back to those busy days, but it’s a little different for us because we are a new entrant. The exchange rate has accelerated our growth plans for the US market and it is certainly a lot stronger market than New Zealand and Australia. We are happy with the way the market is going and plan to enjoy the journey in the future. Our goal is to build 12-15 boats a year in the next five years and if we can achieve that we will be very content. The trio that’s leading the new Elandra brand, Luke Durman, (right) the founder and owner of Elandra Yachts, marine designer and GM Grant Senior (centre) and stylist-designer Tom Barry-Cotter (right).