Nearly two years after her arrival at Yachting Developments in May 2017, Lion New Zealand is back in the water following a million-dollar refit at the yard.
After making her way from the Yachting Developments yard in Hobsonville, and then having her mast re-stepped, she was relaunched in front of a crowd of well-wishers. Following her relaunching, Lion New Zealand was rechristened by Bianca Cook, of Yachting Developments, and Michelle Khan and Evelien Van Vliet of the NZ Sailing Trust.
“Lion New Zealand’s relaunch was a very proud moment and the culmination of many months of hard work by our team,” says Ian Cook, managing director of Yachting Developments. “After so many years and nautical miles, she was in need of a refit. The work has upgraded and re-purposed her for her new role. She’s now better than new and ready to allow young New Zealanders the chance to experience sailing and team building on the Hauraki Gulf.”
A piece of Kiwi yachting history, Lion New Zealand was designed by Ron Holland and launched 34 years ago for Sir Peter Blake’s fourth attempt at the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1985–1986. Now owned by the NZ Sailing Trust, which purchased the yacht in 2008, Lion New Zealand today plays host to thousands of young New Zealanders.
The vessel’s extensive refit list included a new mast, boom and keel, new rigging, deck winches and electronics, a full paint job in the yacht’s original colours and new antifouling. The interior was completely upgraded, with all-new accommodation and a reconfigured galley and forward area, new electronics, lighting and navigation systems, and new plumbing.
Engineering work included a new propeller shaft, engine and propeller. The heavy old Gardner diesel was replaced with a new Volvo Penta engine. Yachting Developments’ Bob Graham played a key role in the redesign of the yacht, drawing on his years of experience working with Lion, including racing onboard alongside Sir Peter Blake. The yacht will now be lighter, faster and more efficient to run, with all spaces maximised.
“The restoration is simply stunning and it was very emotional watching her return to the Waitemata Harbour,” says Paul Powney, CEO of the New Zealand Sailing Trust. “With our collaboration with Yachting Developments we’ve now reconfigured without compromising the integrity of the design or her legacy as a Whitbread Maxi.
“Lion’s return alongside our other vessel – Steinlager 2 – will allow the NZ Sailing Trust to provide youth development sailing programme opportunities for up to 2,000 young New Zealanders each year.”
Lion New Zealand will now undergo sea trials before returning to service for the NZ Sailing Trust.