Riviera is certainly no stranger to big ambitions – our passion, pride and perseverance over 36 years have helped us launch almost 5200 motor yachts that today can be seen cruising the great lakes, rivers, seas and oceans of the world.
It is with much excitement and a great deal of determination that Riviera has joined the push for Australia’s Gold Coast to a host a preliminary event of the prestigious America’s Cup yacht racing – the Louis Vuitton World Series.
Our chairman and owner Rodney Longhurst has teamed up with his brother, Tony Longhurst from The Boat Works, and Steve Ackerie from Stefan Boating World – all based within the Gold Coast Marine Precinct – to help drive this ambitious plan.
“The World Series will bring with it the attention of the international boating industry and boating enthusiasts to Australia’s boating capital here at the Gold Coast Marine Precinct at Coomera,” said Rodney.
“With the world’s eyes on the Gold Coast, the World Series will help showcase the Australian marine industry and also generate an influx of tourism and media presence capitalising on the infrastructure and success of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.”
The World Series sees the best sailors in the world compete aboard AC45 racing catamarans to try to put points on the board that carry over to the next stage of the competition. The one-design wingsail AC45 foiling cat is a lean, mean speed machine that can cruise at speeds of over 30 knots in the right conditions.
Rodney Longhurst says the Gold Coast has the right climate and outdoors lifestyle, the right blend of beautiful beaches and bushland as well as close proximity to capital cities and international airports.
“The Gold Coast is safe, clean, high-tech and we love big events,” he says. “We will have the infrastructure and we already have the natural attractions the world sees as authentically Australian.
“It would be a massive windfall for the Gold Coast – a true yachting paradise.”
It’s important to note that the trio is not considering entering a race yacht to contest The Auld Mug, rather they aim to stage a leg of the Louis Vuitton World Series in which the America’s Cup teams race in foiling, one-design AC45 catamarans as they compete to improve their ranking for the main event. However, the ACs coming to Australia may well inspire an Australian team entry.
The World Series is the forerunner to America’s Cup qualifiers and finals.
The bid already has the full support of legendary Australian sailor and America’s Cup regatta director, Iain Murray.
“You have the ideal venue, the ideal conditions and so many of the sailors racing on all six teams are Australian,” he said.
“Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of the defender, ORACLE Team USA, is an Aussie while ORACLE crew member Ky Hurst is from the Gold Coast.
“In fact three out of the six skippers are Aussies – it would be a great home-coming for them.”
The seeds for the Gold Coast bid were sown in December 2015 when Tony Longhurst, a former V8 champion race driver and Australian champion waterskier, was inspired by the speeds and spectacle of the world’s best sailors competing on foiling, wing-sailed catamarans at the Extreme Sailing Series in Sydney.
Tony subsequently purchased an Extreme 40 yacht to help woo the corporate crowd, media, sponsors and VIPs on the Gold Coast Broadwater, at Hamilton Island Race Week and at events on Sydney Harbour.
“Oman in the Middle East held the first round of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in the last week of February and it brought global attention to its location as a coastal city,” said Tony.
“The presence of the America’s Cup and world-class sailors inspired the entire nation, attracted thousands of visitors and gave the Sultanate of Oman the chance to showcase its culture.
“Imagine those America’s Cup foiling catamarans doing 80kms per hour – that’s nearly three times wind speed – with the backdrop of Surfers Paradise and the rest of our beautiful coastline!”
Visitors to the Gold Coast International Expo and Riviera Festival of Boating from 19-22 May 2016 will have a chance to get up close with the racing yacht that inspired Australia’s bid to host a leg of the America’s Cup preliminary series.
The Extreme 40 sailing catamaran is a training vessel for crews who sail the AC45 cats used in the World Series events that lead up to the America’s Cup.
Expo and Festival visitors will not only have the chance to inspect the state-of-the-art design of the Extreme 40 and learn more about the Gold Coast bid, they will also be in with a chance to win an amazing experience as she sails up and down the Coomera River.
Rodney Longhurst travels the world for boat shows, visiting Riviera’s network of dealers and nurturing the ‘Riviera family’ which for 36 years has proliferated on every continent.
“Australia is no longer remote,” he said.
“We believe it’s feasible and would bring incredible benefits to the region.”
As if that offering were not enough, tourists would be motivated to visit the Gold Coast for the World Series lured by the “Bucket List” of activities available in Australia.
“There’s the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays, the country towns and the desert, as well as those quintessentially Australian experiences such as cuddling a koala, diving, surfing and bush walking. It can be 5-star or backpacking, that’s the beauty of the Gold Coast and Australia,” says Rodney.
Steve Ackerie, a six-time Australian Offshore Powerboat Racing champion who was involved in Brisbane Expo 88 and saw Australia unite for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, believes the bid will have the support of the broader Queensland and Australian community.
“When Aussies get together with a common passion and goal, nothing can stop us,” says Steve.
“The America’s Cup is world-class and it’s this fame and spotlight that follows it wherever it travels that the Gold Coast can capture and really shine to a new level.
“This is a journey – this is step one.”