Taiwan-based Horizon Yachts celebrated its 25 year milestone last night, with an Open House at one of its three sites in Kaohsiung. 600 people attended, including dealers and clients from around the world, staff, local dignitaries and media.
Company founder and CEO, John Lu, who also heads up the Taiwan Yacht Industry Association, welcomed his international guests and delivered a speech with passion and pride about the 25 years of challenges and triumphs of Asia’s most awarded yacht builder.
In 2012, Horizon ranked ninth largest superyacht builder in the world by length, according to Showboats International.
Centrepiece of the event, which showcased several models, was the new EP148 Horizon Polaris, the largest flagship built by Horizon as well as the largest BV Ice Classification private yacht built in Asia – Horizon’s first foray into the megayacht arena.
Measuring 148 feet in length, the EP148 Horizon Polaris is built with a steel hull, aluminium superstructure and bulbous bow, and her design is the result of collaboration between interior design consultant Birgit Schannese of Germany, US designer J.C. Espinosa and the Horizon R&D team.
With a 29’ beam, Horizon Polaris features a well-designed and spacious layout with five ensuite staterooms, including an on-deck master with an office and room for 10 crew.
Designed as a long range cruising yacht, she boasts whisper quiet operation and the most advanced technologies were incorporated into the build.
Additional features include a transom garage, water toy storage on the bow, gym and spa in the Skylounge; and an entertainment area on the flybridge with a Jacuzzi, numerous sunpads and a full bar. Powered with twin MTU 12V4000 M60 1760HP engines, the new EP148 reaches a top speed of 16 knots and has a range of over 4,200 nautical miles at 9.5 knots.
Horizon Yacht is part of the Horizon Group which also manufactures automotive and wind turbine components.
Occupying 27 acres of waterfront manufacturing space, they have been in operation since 1987 and now employ 800 people globally, producing 26 models across eight lines.
There are three divisions of Horizon Yacht: Vision which makes smaller boats, Horizon which is the brand from 23 to 120ft, and Premier, which makes the larger range.
Horizon’s on site composite business is called Atech and works with the most advanced 5-axis CNC milling systems in Taiwan, making 1:1 models, increasing accuracy and reducing plug time from six months to one month. Recently, Horizon invested $9m in R&D tools, making it the equal of any facility in the world.
The facility is home to high-tech aerospace equipment which allows it to apply carbon fibre and resin infusion processes in all its yachts, as well as 'non-destructive testing' methods that use ultrasound and thermal imaging to detect flaws and voids in hulls. It owns a 600 tonne drydock transport and several testing tanks for its vessels that include massive overhead water spray systems that release 70 tonnes per hour to ensure yachts are watertight under severe conditions.
There are 20 naval architects at Horizon, and the company is exceedingly proud of its IT controlled systems which monitor client records, feedback, purchasing, man hours, support and every aspect of production.
One of the most significant factors which differentiates the brand from its local and European competitors is its ability to customise its range.
As Roger Sowerbutts, who is based in Palm Beach Florida for Horizon, explains: 'Horizon is very versatile. We offer clients any personalisation they can dream of. We can stop the boat at any time – it’s not a sausage factory production line here like others tend to be,' he says referring to some of the Italian, UK and US brands - many of whom are scrambling to change their approach in response to the rising affluence and influence of the Asian market.
All classifications/standards can be built at Horizon, he adds. 'The SCRIMP resin vacuum infusion process means that very complex, 3D shapes are possible. Since 2000, we have built 375 boats by resin infusion and our processes mean a 20% saving on man hours.'
Investment in a Solar Power, known as the SC range, is a unique attribute of Horizon. The SC23 is Horizon's first solar-powered catamaran, built with a 2.8kW electric outboard motor. Capable of running at 6 knots with 12 people aboard, the SC23 contains storage batteries sufficient for a day trip (around 10 hours), even without a charge from the sun. Hardtop-mounted solar panels provide a total output of 720/860W to continuously charge the batteries during daylight.
The SC46 comes in passenger and luxury yacht versions and is the first luxury vessel in the world powered 100% through solar energy. John Lu says he is inspired by the take up of the SC range and looks forward to developing more eco-friendly yachts in line with the company’s green policies.
Horizon has plans to move its operations to one major facility at the proposed Southern Star Project, which is likely to begin construction in 2013 and will become the central marine precinct of Kaohsiung.
Under the project, a total of 113 hectares of reclaimed land will be zoned for the yacht industry park. In the initial stage, the project will occupy 47 hectares. The inaugural Taiwan International Yacht Show will be hosted at the venue in 2014.
More at www.horizonyacht.com