[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]hey wanted to tell their story that began in 1965 in Plymouth, England – one that captured the romance of designing and building boats Princess Yachts International has made over the decades.
Some time in early 2015, the idea to ground the narration on the first models they built kicked off the search to find a boat that was on sale. In March, they found a vessel at Jersey in the Channel Islands, nearly 200km south-east of Plymouth.
Weathered, dull and rusting, the 48-year-old boat, the La Malorquina, was brought back home to Plymouth where she underwent a complete makeover. Most parts were restored to their original glory, but others – like the engine – was retrofitted with present-day technology.
Renamed Charlotte, in honour of the daughter of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her previous owner, the boat is now on display at the Singapore Yacht Show.
The largest Princess boat at the show, the 88, dwarfs the Charlotte by 17.5m, but the Project 31 model is a microcosm of British marine engineering prowess that once ruled the seven seas in the 18th century from Plymouth.
The rejuvenated boat, says Princess Yachts marketing director Kiran Jay Haslam, represents the enduring technological philosophy of a yard that began as Marine Projects (Plymouth) Limited in 1965.
“The Project 31 is the story of our journey,” Haslam tells The Peak. “It was the first product we created and although the makeover was something spectacular for us, the quality of much of the material in the boat was still intact, even though it had been neglected for so long.”
“The restoration of the boat is a very emotional and transparent way of us celebrating who we are and who we have always been. The journey from 1965 until 2015 has been an organic one, where we grew step by step to understand and learn more about our own craft.”
The Charlotte has its own little story. Built in 1968, it was first owned by a member of the Royal British Navy before a couple of Jersey residents in the Channel Islands bought her in 1978 for weekend getaways.
It was passed on to different owners over the years, the last of whom were Justin Surcouf and Charlotte Dickson. They in turn, used it as a charter vessel along the coast of Ireland for English holidaymakers.
Haslam says the company, which was renamed Princess Yachts International in 2001, brought the Charlotte to Singapore on its worldwide anniversary tour, as the city-state is becoming as an important hub for the yachting community.
According to the Melbourne native, although the yacht event here is currently just below the ‘A’ category level it has every potential to grow quickly like the Monaco Boat Show.
“The cosmopolitan and hub feeling of Monaco is something Singapore could achieve very easily,” says Haslam. “Currently, the strongest part of the boating world is undoubtedly the Mediterranean and the Caribbean is a close second.
“But if you look at the natural landscape and opportunities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, the region could very quickly transform into the third most important boating destination in the world.
“But we need to work with the governments of all these territories is an open water system in order to entice more superyacht owners to come to the region to make boating easier in the region.”
A total of 71 boats, including superyachts are on display at the show, with top manufacturers like Ferretti, Riva, Pershing and Benetti out in force to woo Asia’s richest. The Charlotte is on show at the main entrance by the Esplanade Display area.