Three renowned Queensland marine business figures are keen to bring an element of the America’s Cup, the Louis Vuitton AC 45 series to Queensland’s Gold Coast.
The three guys are Tony Longhurst, former champion motor racer, twice winner of the Bathurst 1000 and Australian champion water-skier, who is CEO at The Boat Works in Coomera’s marine precinct. He and his brother Rodney Longhurst, the owner and CEO at Riviera Australia, the largest motor yacht builder in the southern hemisphere and they have joined forces with Steve Ackerie the founder of the 50 strong Stefan chain of hair salons and six-time Australian Offshore Powerboat Racing Champion in this venture.
America’s Cup World series – on the Gold Coast in 2017?
We talked this week to Tony Longhurst ‘About two weeks ago we launched our Extreme 40 and we were just running it up and down the Broadwater and we were amazed about how much attention to boat got and the local paper down here, the Gold Coast Bulletin, ran a story on the Extreme 40 and the AC45 and way these series are run and the paper suggested we should be trying to bid for the America’s Cup.
‘Now that is rather premature but Stefan and Riviera and a couple of local businesses in the marine precinct are certainly interested in having a crack at hosting at least a Louis Vuitton AC 45 series here and see what local interest there was.
‘First up we have been onto our local council and we have got great support there.
‘We are talking to the Waterways Authority and then we have got to the right people at (Queensland) state level and there is discussion on what funding is there if we can bring it here.
‘Now we are talking to Ian Murray and understanding how the series works and the AC45s are going to New York and then Chicago, Portsmouth, France and then across to Tokyo so it might actually possible to get around here in February 2017 if we can get the needed local financial support.
‘Initially we were thinking of post 2017, but at the moment there is still one round up for grabs so we can work towards that. If we don’t achieve that then we will definitely have a really strong bid to get online for the next cycle.
‘The action needs to close to spectators. In the Broadwater, it depends on what are you are, as to how close we can get to a shore-side crowd. ‘We have got some areas there that are three metres deep at low water. There is a section that the local authorities are now dredging from the Gold Coast seaway down to the Southport Yacht Club and the (Sundial) bridge there so there is a triangular section that could be dredged out very easily to accommodate the boats.
‘We have got an area along the foreshore where the Southport swimming pool is. It is like a parkland so you can set up there.
‘They are actually dredging right now and I understand that in the next three to six months we are going to be four and a half metres at low water, that would have to be confirmed, up the whole channel running in so it won’t be tricky anymore.
‘Then there is a section to the south western corner there that is a metre, metre and a half at low water so there is not a huge amount to be removed to make that area workable for this event.
‘Of course that would actually make it a lot better for our local boaties as well. ‘But it’s very early days. One step at a time. We certainly haven’t got anything solid yet but you have got to start somewhere and we are don’t want to make fools of ourselves otherwise we lose credibility.
‘We are financially sound to put some seed money up to start to make it happen so we are just trying to get all the ducks in line and kick one off at a time. ‘We are making a little bit of progress which I am really thrilled about. I am absolutely amazed at how much interest there is in this. I have been blown away from that.
‘We can see this event could really work here, so now the hard work has to be done.’
by Rob Kothe