In 2005, WorldSpan Marine, Inc. assumed responsibility for maintaining a pair of excellent reputations. That year, the company acquired both Queenship Marine Industries and Crescent Custom Yachts, two well-established, world-class yacht builders with rich histories of success in the Pacific Northwest Region. Their commitment to quality is manifested in their superlative facilities, top-notch tradesmen and, ultimately, their highly regarded product lines.WorldSpan sought to combine that commitment with its trademark financial astuteness. Indeed, the holding company has nurtured its own enviable reputation by purchasing and investing in marine businesses that offer strong brand recognition and potentially exceptional growth. With the recent acquisitions, it furthered that reputation by enhancing its ability to manage the building and marketing of luxury sea-going vessels effectively and profitably. With Queenship and Crescent under its umbrella, WorldSpan now offers the Rolls Royce of mid-sized and large yachts.
Neighbors in the Northwest
Both Queenship and Crescent are located near Vancouver, British Columbia. Even though they have been brought into a single company, they operate as separate entities, yet their product lines neatly complement each other, says Lee Taubenek, one of WorldSpan’s directors. “Queenship produces yachts in the 60- to 100-foot range, while Crescent offers vessels that are more than 100 feet long,” he indicates.
Founded in 1986, Crescent Custom Yachts specializes in building custom composite motor yachts that range in length from 92 to 135 feet. The company was the first North American composite yacht builder to earn full and unlimited Maritime and Coastguard Agency approval.
Queenship is among the leading North American manufacturers of mid-size semi-custom and custom yachts. Founded in 1992, the company offers a yacht variety that includes sportcruisers, super salon cruisers, wide-body models, and pilothouse motor yachts that serve the cruising and sport fishing markets. Its yachts rank at the top of the market as far as design, performance, seaworthiness, integrity and finish. Further, during its history, Queenship pioneered some of the early composite construction techniques now commonly used in the industry.
Queenship’s yachts sold so well throughout the 1990s that the company outgrew its shipyard and production capacity. In 2000, the company built a new shipyard to accommodate increasing demand and future growth.
Queenship and Crescent share that new, cutting-edge production facility and shipyard, which is located in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. Situated on 9.6 acres, and encompassing 90,000 square feet of manufacturing and shipyard space, the facility is strategically located on the Fraser River. This provides the companies with a rigorous testing area: the waters of the Pacific Northwest. “We can launch our boats right from our facility and into the Fraser River, which opens into Puget Sound and gives us access to the Pacific Ocean,” describes Taubenek.
As the facility was being built, process efficiencies were identified and then integrated into the design and construction. In addition, workforce ergonomics and plant layout were incorporated to ensure the highest levels of quality and efficiency in each and every vessel construction. Today, the facility can handle the simultaneous construction of 10 yachts. “We have one of the most advanced yacht-building facilities in North America,” says Taubenek. “All of our equipment is state of the art.”
It boasts modern lamination, assembly, cabinetry and finish capabilities, as well as a launchway, commissioning dock and 1,400 feet of deep-water frontage on the river. “We also have one of the largest paint booths on the West Coast,” indicates Taubenek. “This is something most yacht builders don’t have. They often have to erect a temporary shelter to do their final painting, whereas we’ve incorporated our paint booth right into our building.”
WorldSpan plans on expanding the facility to include a new travel lift that will be able to haul large yachts. In turn, this will enable the company to leverage its production capabilities – particularly the paint booth – to the growing, international refit and refurbishing market.
Focused on Quality
Queenship and Crescent define its customers as the high-net-worth individuals, many of whom are members of the baby-boom generation. “That demographic owns a tremendous amount of personal wealth and provides a good source for our customer base,” says Taubenek. “Some of our customers purchase our boats for personal use. Others use them to support their businesses.”
He adds that one of the biggest business challenges emanates from China, which is rapidly expanding its marketplace presence. “A tremendous amount of lower-priced product now comes from China, and that has disrupted the market.”
WorldSpan’s response has been to maintain the high levels of quality that became Queenship and Crescent trademarks.
“In some buyers’ minds, price overrides quality. We won’t compete with China as far as price, but they can’t compete with us in terms of quality,” says Taubenek. “That’s an area where we don’t compromise.”
This dedication is especially relevant in the Queenship product line, with its smaller-sized yachts. “Typically, when other yacht manufacturers get down into that size range, they’ll try and cut corners to reduce cost to customers,” reveals Taubenek. “But we’re not interested in going after that low- and mid-end market segments. We only focus on the high end. Queenship customers look for a certain standard of quality, and we provide our vessels with the same kind of fit and finish and, for the most part, the same kinds of accoutrements that a $30 million mega yacht possesses. In fact, we call our Queenship vessels ‘mini mega-yachts.’”
When imbuing its vessels with these quality levels, Queenship actively collaborates with both customers and designers to personalize each yacht it produces. Further, its engineers place strong concentration on hull design, which helps solve the problem of fuel usage vs. yacht cruising range. Queenship’s custom-built hulls are lightweight but quite strong, as they are made with mixed resins. For instance, hulls in the Caribe series are a direct descendant of the vehicles in the U.S. Navy’s Fast Patrol Boat program, which feature soft dry rides, excellent roll dampening and high stability at any speed.
Queenship’s overall approach has resulted in numerous honors, including the International Superyacht Society’s “Best Semi-Displacement” and “Best Motor Yacht Interior” awards.
Queenship’s current range includes three series of luxury yacht models, including the aforementioned Caribe series (with models up to 96 feet in length), the Admiralty series (61 to 70 feet), and the Berretta series (70 to 77) feet.
In the area of semi-custom vessels, Queenship markets three series of pilothouse motor yachts, each with distinctive variants. The Queenship 87’ motor yacht has an open flybridge, hardtop and swim platform. It is also available as a 92-foot cockpit motor yacht, a 92-foot cockpit motor yacht with enclosed flybridge, and a 93-foot yacht fisherman with extended cockpit, enclosed flybridge and spotting tower. The Queenship 72’ series is anchored by an open-hardtop version and is available as a 77-foot cockpit motor yacht, a 77-foot enclosed flybridge motor yacht and a 77-foot yacht fisherman with cockpit, enclosed flybridge and tower. The Queenship 65’ series begins with an open-flybridge hardtop design and also includes a 68-foot cockpit version, a 68-foot cockpit with enclosed flybridge and a 70-foot yacht fisherman with extended cockpit, enclosed flybridge and tower. Each permutation in each series can be further customized with the buyer’s choice of fabrics, interior wood, floor coverings and other finish materials.
The pride of the fleet should be the new Passagemaker series, which will start with a 60-foot expedition-style cruiser currently under construction. The series caters to a growing cruising market segment comprised of customers looking for a safe, reliable, efficient yacht that’s comfortable enough to live aboard, capable of ocean crossings, and easily manageable for a couple cruising without a crew.
In developing the Passagemaker 60’, Queenship collaborated with the design firm of Sparkman and Stephens. Design features include an elegant canoe stern, a Portuguese bow, a prominent funnel on the bridge, and teak caprails. Its single Lugger L1276A2 diesel inboard generates 340 horsepower at 1800 rpm. The vessel’s maximum speed will reach 10.5 knots, and it boasts a 2,400-gallon fuel capacity. The backup propulsion system – the BAT (Bayview Auxiliary Tug) Drive from Bayview Edison Industries – employs a hydraulic motor powered by a pump connected to the power take-off unit on the diesel genset. Safety is provided by five watertight compartments, 10 independently alarmed bilge pumps, automatic fuel and damper shutdowns, and fire and bilge panels in the wheelhouse, master stateroom, and flying bridge. The hull has been extensively tank tested and optimized for minimum resistance and maximum roll damping. Standard bow and stern thrusters provide easier docking and maneuvering.
The Passagemaker 60 will be available in two configurations: the standard, with port and starboard side decks with full walkaround access; and the wide-body version, for customers looking for more interior space. It features side decks on the starboard side only and a larger saloon and galley area. Both versions feature large master suites, VIP suites and a third guestroom.
The first Passagemaker 60 was scheduled for a mid-2007 delivery to a customer who planned to live onboard while cruising from Alaska to the southeastern coast of the United States. Later larger models will include 75-foot and 87-foot versions.
Meanwhile, Crescent Custom Yachts focuses on the construction and delivery of large, fully customed yachts designed, equipped and finished to client specifications. “We’re building a 140-foot Crescent for a customer in Florida,” informs Taubenek. “The vessel is being developed by Jonathan Quinn Barnett, a world-renowned yacht designer. We intend to do a series of boats in this size range.”
Spyglassing the Horizon
Building on the strong international reputations of Queenship and Crescent yachts, WorldSpan has set forth a vigorous, synergistic strategy for both brands. The company’s long-term goals are to evolve the Queenship line to become more production-oriented rather than semi-custom or custom; to license and build Passagemaker yachts offshore for the North American Market; and to maintain and expand the construction of larger, more complex yachts under the Crescent name.
Already, with the Queenship and Crescent acquisitions, WorldSpan has secured itself a high position in the international luxury yacht market, enabling it to meeting the increasing demand for custom and semi-custom vessels.