Hong Kong’s proposed superyacht marina plans face controversy

Plans to turn a southeast Hong Kong island cove into a 500-berth superyacht marina resort have divided sailing enthusiasts, despite a pressing need for yacht berths in Asia’s boating capital.

Amid recent controversy around the project, the Windsurfing Association of Hong Kong has been seen to be supporting the Lamma Island development, which, if successful, would be the city’s first new marina development in 20 years. On the other hand, president Warwick Downes of the Hong Kong Sailing Federation (HKSF) supports developing marinas elsewhere in the Islands District.

With sailing often dismissed within the region as a pastime of the rich due to rising costs of the sport, a berthing deficit now exists, offering just one of the reasons why access to the sport is increasingly beyond those less affluent.

If successful, the new marina at the heart of the Lamma Island redevelopment plan would host up to 500 yachts of various sizes up to 100-metres or more, also with a sailing academy, waterfront plaza and public promenade.

Surrounded by water, Hong Kong currently hosts around 15,000 fishing and leisure crafts, according to Todd Jeffrey from Hong Kong United Dockyards. There are, however only 5,000 mooring spaces available throughout the city and its outlying islands.

Additionally, none of Hong Kong’s few private or public marinas can currently accommodate yachts bigger than 30.5-metres, or 100-feet; an infrastructure shortcoming that saw the world’s largest three-masted Bermuda rigged schooner forced to moor off of Jeffrey’s Dockyards in Tsing Yi, when the yacht ran into problems with its bow thruster during a southeast Asian tour earlier this year.

The cost of owning and running a small boat has never been lower, thanks to new research and development into marine materials and manufacturing processes, but simply finding a berth remains difficult, with Claude Wong, member of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYA), stating waiting lists are commonly more than a year at most private clubs and public facilities. 

The China Daily newspaper recently reported that berthing fees at the few Hong Kong facilities were roughly double those in other regional ports in China – a problem which Wong said is not faced in nearby Singapore, where sailing receives generous support, open to everyone with storage and training.

Despite the recent controversy over the luxury Lamma Island marina resort, Wong believes the marina would be well received by those looking for a place to moor their vessels with the island well placed to receive winds from all directions.


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