The new IAG127 Primadonna from IAG Yachts is a cost-effective choice for the prospective superyacht owner looking to enter the charter market
How did a Chinese-built yacht get an Italian moniker? The story begins a few years ago, when the owners of a growing electronics company called the International Audio Group, with manufacturing facilities in China and offices in London, Macau and Hong Kong, decided to get into the boat building business.
The boatbuilding venture began in 2007 with the construction of a shipyard in Southeastern China (Zhuhai). In order to get things right on the first try, the company decided to hire expertise to assist in the design and production of its first yachts, and turned to experienced consultants from Italy.
Andrea Nicolai, a naval architect and engineer who splits his time between Livorno and Zhuhai, and recently worked at Baglietto, accepted the Taiwanese owners’ invitation to come to China to assist in organising the production facilities and workflow. Nicolai, who aside from directing shipyard operations is also president of marine consulting company Ecomarine Asia, is supervising the design and construction of the shipyard’s second series. The 100-foot Electra flybridge yacht is already under construction in one of the shipyard’s six building sheds.
Construction of Hull One, the so-named Primadonna, a 127-foot tri-deck built in solid composite, began in earnest. The first yacht was launched in the fall of 2010, a sea trials were conducted in Asia. Currently two more of these voluminous yachts, both measuring just shy of 40 metres, are under construction in IAG Yachts’ modern facility in Zhuhai’s Pingsha Yacht building park. Getting to the yard is an hour ferry journey plus another 30 minutes car ride from Hong Kong.
IAG Yachts Director Tim Chang, the son of Michael Chang and nephew of Bernard Chang, IAG Yachts’ CEO and president respectively – was born and educated in the United States, where he studied finance. Tim moved to Asia to assist with the expanding family business. By all accounts, IAG’s electronics business is vastly successful – close to its manufacturing facilities near Shenzhen is a resort on a 40-acre lake that includes two hotels for visiting guests, a sauna, a nine-hole golf course and restaurants – so why branch into yachts?
“My father is a boat owner and he loves boats,” says Tim. “He could not believe that there was no yard able to handle a yacht this size in China,” he adds. So Michael and twin brother Bernard decided to invest in producing superyachts for the international market, featuring reliable engineering, style and competitive prices. IAG’s first yacht made its debut in Miami, along with other yachts built in China, including the innovative NISI, built by Tricon Marine, which is also located along the riverfront of Zhuhai, where the Pingsha park is located, and the imposing 97-foot Marlow Explorer, built at the Marlow/Norseman factory in Xiamen.