How a decades-long family boat building empire has happily downsized to build the world’s best coach boats.

In Aotearoa New Zealand the name Salthouse is synonymous with the craft of boatbuilding. The extended Salthouse family has thrived in the industry for many decades, as builders of traditional wooden vessels dating back to 1956 and high-tech composite race yachts in the last twenty years or so.

Greg Salthouse was proud to work with his father John in the business. He had learnt from the ground up and was respected as a sailor and for his ability to produce exceptional, one-off boats.

With John’s retirement, Salthouse Boatbuilders steered a course towards building composite boats.

“My passion was big race boats,” recalls Greg. At that point the business operated from the family’s yard on the water in Greenhithe where it was part of the landscape.


“We took on some challenging, risky jobs in the composite side of things.”

They went on to build Elliott 50s, Transpac 52s and the famous Kerr 46 Tonnere which became one of Europe’s most successful race yachts in its class over the years.

Like most of the New Zealand industry, the GFC hit Salthouse Boatbuilders hard. They survived by taking on the build of a fleet of 15 waka for German philanthropist Dieter Pulman and his project Okeanos – Foundation for the Sea and ONP (Ocean Noise Production). Greg pulled together enough work to keep his team working by operating on a cost-plus basis.

During this time Greg, with brother Chris ‘Curly’ Salthouse, also launched into building the Catalyst 45, a revolutionary multihull support boat that could sustain speeds of 30-40 knots, keeping up with Emirates Team New Zealand’s foiling multihulls used in the 2013 America’s Cup. While only two were planned, the boats were very popular and 18 were built, to be sold around the world for resorts, superyacht owners and race teams.

The Catalyst 45 was a hint of things to come, but in the meantime all of this – along with trying to juggle family and find some work-life balance – meant for Greg the satisfaction and enjoyment in his work had started to fade.

“By 2018 I was burnt out,” recalls Greg. “My passion for it had gone. I wasn’t enjoying being so office-bound running the business side of things and missed being on the tools.”

The very difficult choice to sell the property at the yard was made.


“It was a big, emotional decision. We’d been there for more than 60 years, but it was a great comfort to Dad knowing that he was leaving Mum well cared for once he was gone.”

So, while bittersweet, the sale paved the way for the next chapter: the dawn of the Salthouse Coach Boat, a downsized business model and a simpler way of living with more time to focus on the important things.

The notion of a new breed of coach boat came about when Greg was on the water coaching his own children as they started dinghy sailing: Greg envisaged a highly bespoke, high performance and largely hand-finished coach boat that would serve the new generation of high-performance classes, keeping coaches and athletes comfortable, safe, and enabling them to perform at their best during training and regattas.

To help bring the boat to fruition, Greg drew on the expertise of Olympic coach Grant Beck. Grant explains how coach boats have had to adapt as the classes got faster: “With the advent of windsurfing in the Olympics, the development of quicker boards, and then multihulls, 49ers and now foilers, we primarily needed a coach boat that could keep up with them.”

In response, the Salthouse Coach Boat has a distinctive high bow, to cut through rough water smoothly, and also to keep the crew dry. It provides a stable platform on which three or four sailors can sit on one side to relax, chat or enjoy a snack, with their boats secure on the other side.

It’s also highly manouverable at low speeds. “This is a great aspect of the Salthouse. It’s like driving a car, you don’t have to compensate for the bow drifting or failing to respond. It doesn’t steer you, it has unbelievably good seakeeping,” he says.

Safety-wise, the offset tubes mean there is ample room on the foredeck for first aid to be carried out in emergency situations – an important factor good coaches take into account – and also to provide additional volume for more routine tasks.


Through-hull tubes ensure a simple conduit setup for all steering and electrical cables to run through and the transom is carbon reinforced to accommodate the loads placed on it by the engine and by towing duties.

Tow posts can be adapted for wind wands, flag poles or Railbaza attachments. A fold-up sun canopy provides sun and rain protection but disappears from sight when needed.

If you noticed that the Salthouse Coach Boat is relatively utilitarian in appearance when compared to mass-produced models, it’s intentional.

“This was a deliberate decision. It’s an extremely purposeful boat, and each one is specifically customised for its owner. The minute you start blinging up a boat designed to work at high speed in difficult situations, it can be a recipe for problems,” Grant explains.

Partner Delayne Salthouse says that the custom nature of the boats plays to Greg’s strengths, both as a sailor and as a boatbuilder. “It’s something that we are good at because it’s where we came from with the old-style yard where everything was bespoke. It’s natural for Greg to pick up on all the small details owners want – to have everything the way owners want them.”

To date the 100% New Zealand-made boats have sold well – even with the restrictions on travel and international regattas. Five were sold to Yachting New Zealand and were instrumental to the Tokyo Olympic campaign. Boats have also been purchased by the pro-wind-foiling and youth sailing Herbert family, Emirates Team New Zealand Sail Programme Rob Salthouse, Australia’s Anthony Nossiter (SailGP, Volvo, Olympic Nacra Coach, ) and Jimmy Spithill.

Another milestone is the recent appointment of Rio Olympic Gold Medallist Tom Burton, of Burton Boats, as a new Australian dealer.

It’s clear Greg and Delayne have developed an approach that not only gives the family what they need right now in terms of a healthy work-life balance, but also gives the sailing world a performance boat capable of responding not only to the needs of this generation of high-performance sailing classes, but also to the next generation’s beyond that – whatever it may look like.

Congratulations, Salthouse Boatbuilders.


Model Salthouse Coach Boat
Designer Rob Salthouse
Builder Salthouse Boatbuilders
Price as stated $POA


loa 6.3M
Beam 2.25M
Displacement 500kg
Engine Yamaha 60hp outboard
Fuel Capacity 80L
Max Horsepower 70hp
Passenger Capacity 6 people


  • Ample foredeck for sail handling duties or first aid
  • High bow for a smooth, dry ride in the rough and excellent seakeeping


  • Fast enough to keep up with modern foiling yacht classes
  • Highly manoeuverable at low speed