Made-in-China superyachts reflect changing tide of economy

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Story highlights

Chinese ship builder hopes to create super yacht brand

Yachts cost a third of international brands like Azimut and Sunseeker

Move reflects China's changing industrial base

Yachting industry may be limited by taxes, regulation and lack of marinas

Zhuhai, China CNN  — 

Armed with glossy sales catalogs and a shy swagger, Samuel Wong hopes to transform his family-run firm from a manufacturer of hum-drum fishing vessels and houseboats into a maker of sophisticated super yachts.

His company makes up to six 86-foot and 98-foot yachts a year at its shipyard in Zhuhai, southern China, under its Accelera brand.

The name was coined by Wong because it “sounded Italian.” The company aims to compete in a marketplace currently dominated by European yacht makers like Azimut and Sunseeker and count billionaires among its clients.

“Li Ka-shing would never buy our brand but I hope in 10 years time he might consider it,” said Wong, 36, referring to Asia’s richest man, who is rumored to keep an 84-foot Italian-made Riva yacht at an exclusive Hong Kong marina.

Wong’s attempt to move upmarket is a reflection of China’s changing industrial base and the challenges many Chinese companies face as they try to move away from mass-produced goods to higher-value, branded products.

The company sold seven vessels to buyers in Hong Kong and China in the last financial year.