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Life lessons from the chief of Echo Yachts: Mark Stothard

Business
Written by
Laura Nicholls

“If I want to do something I'll spend time and energy on it, which I like to call ‘learn it, earn it and burn it!’ When you’ve learnt what the tricks are and earnt the knowledge, just keep doing it until you can burn it!”

In between racking up over 3,500 skydives, becoming a pro-photographer, video creator, keen adventurer, avid seaman and boss of a leading Australian shipyard; Mark Stothard still manages to dedicate time and money into pushing the boundaries of green technology. He is the kind of guy who makes the world a better place.Mark Stothard - Echo YachtsPhoto: Echo YachtsNow with a fresh potential new-build project in the pipeline and committing full-time to Echo Yachts, Mark Stothard finds the time to sit down with SuperYacht Times and tell us his ongoing success story.

"After 40 years in the industry, I’m determined to make a difference"

Having started out as a qualified aircraft engineer to being on the frontline of the aluminium shipbuilding boom in Australia, Stothard went on to establish Image Boat Builders (now part of the Austal group) and ended up avalanching towards an eco-technology breakthrough under the Echo Yachts brand.Echo Yachts shipyardPhoto: Echo Yachts"Hard work earns you the respect of future clients"

When the owner of White Rabbit personally contacted Stothard to assist with the build of his all-new 84-metre eco-superyacht icon, he knew Stothard’s working history and how pivotal it was for the growth of aluminium shipbuilding.

The hard work paid off and the satisfaction came when White Rabbit was lowered into the water for the first time on 1 September 2018 and sat 100% perfect on the waterline. “Exactly how it was designed to be. We even achieved her top predicted speed bang on at 18.7 knots. It was the most perfect boat I have ever been involved with.”White Rabbit yacht exteriorPhoto: Echo yachts"Establish the company’s point of difference"

It wasn’t always Stothard’s intention to take the upper hand in building such efficient superyachts. As soon as he realised our hulls are already 40% more power-efficient than most, Stothard formulated the plan to further improve the already industry-leading trimaran platform by leveraging off its 40% gains in power and fuel efficiency and looking at other technology to augment it with for further improve the house load fuel burn.

“In the coming year or two, we will have a solution that will mean our propulsion systems will have us well ahead of the game. We will have done away with gen-sets and leverage on the hydrodynamic efficiency or ‘slipperiness’ of our hulls,” says Stothard.White Rabbit yacht cruisingPhoto: Mark Stothard

With only a small percentage of the world’s fleet being multihulls, here lies another point of difference for the yard. “I think there's a resistance for people to consider a trimaran hull form. This might be because people may be mistaking catamaran characteristics with those of a trimaran,” he adds. 

And if that isn’t enough, “the cost of White Rabbit would have been 30% more if she were built in Europe. If, that is, the client could have actually found any other superyacht builder to take on the risk of building this new hull type at the required scale.”Echo Yachts shipyardPhoto: Echo Yachts"Look to the future"

Stothard is making waves with his confidence and solutions for the future superyacht fleet. Having designed a new range of active-foiling Trimaran Sports Yachts with One2Three Naval Architects, Stothard is convinced that “these platforms are going to lead the way in the future. We have already set new records for a vessel of that size doing the same top speed and range as a heavy displacement steel hull - with nearly half the amount of installed kilowatts onboard. 

“Life is a journey and along the way you get taken down different forks in the road – it seems that one of those will see us fine-tune this model for super eco-friendly and efficient yachting,” he adds. When that time comes, a workforce of 100, “or 300 at our peak”, are at the ready in support of the Echo Yachts ethos. “We have fun down here - it’s a great team. I often have staff pulling me aside saying ‘mate, don't stop doing this! I love working in this company!’” Perhaps a gesture not many employers get to enjoy and it’s certainly more impressive considering Echo Yachts has become Australia’s largest custom superyacht builder with seven notable industry awards to date for doing so.White Rabbit yacht interior Photo: Echo yachtsThis article is an extract from the May/June edition of The SuperYacht Times newspaper. To see the full feature, subscribe to the newspaper here.

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