Antony Brian Hambrook, known throughout the yachting industry as Tony Hambrook, who helped take Alloy Yachts to prominence, died this week. He was 71 years old.
Born in August 1946 in New Zealand, Hambrook grew up in Motueka, a small rural town at the top of the country’s South Island. In his father’s engineering workshop, he learned numerous skills he put to use throughout his career. He earned an apprenticeship in heating and ventilation after high school . Following the 1974 oil crisis, he built freestanding fireplaces for several years.
Hambook took his first steps into the yachting industry upon approaching his 30th birthday. He wanted to build a yacht for his own use. Sourcing a 52-foot (15.85-meter) steel ketch, Hambrook began the project in November 1976. Approximately 18 months later, he finished her. Hambrook then taught himself to sail. After an initial circumnavigation of the North Island, he set off on an ambitious plan: A three-and-a-half year cruise. Along the way, he sailed Fiji, across the Pacific to Canada, down the U.S. West Coast to Mexico, and onward to Panama and the Caribbean. Hambrook even participated in Antigua Race Week.
Back home in the early 1980s, Hambrook joined a fellow group of New Zealanders who wanted to build a yacht. Specifically, their goal was quite a large superyacht for the time, a 92-footer (28-meter). They did so in a rented facility in Auckland, employing lightweight aluminum. This project, Chanel, completed in 1985, led to the group deciding to formally form Alloy Yachts and acquire a nearby site. Hambrook became Alloy Yachts’ production manager the following year. In 1989, he became managing director.
Interestingly, his philosophy for Alloy Yachts traces its foundations to his global cruise. Just as Hambrook had to be self-reliant then, he strove to have Alloy Yachts gradually bring all disciplines in house, for quality control.
Under Hambrook’s guidance, Alloy Yachts grew in prominence not just in New Zealand, but around the world. Sailing superyachts were, naturally, the specialty. Georgia, launched in 2000, is a prime example. At 159’5” (48.62 meters), she was the largest single-mast sailing yacht in the world. The 106’10” (32.6-meter) Esprit is yet another example. Handed over in 1991, she featured the first carbon fiber mast and fully battened mainsail aboard a pleasure yacht. Both concepts came from America’s Cup racers. One of the most famous Alloy deliveries, however, is Tiara. The owner of the 178-footer (54.27-meter) wanted a helipad, never before accomplished aboard a sailing yacht. Tiara broke the mold upon launch in 2004.
While many deliveries under Hambrook even went on to race in regattas—Janice of Wyoming and Tawera being two long-standing competitors—Alloy Yachts also built a handful of motoryachts. VvS1, Loretta Anne, and Hey Jude are just a few. Whether power or sail, Hambrook always took the wheel first.
Hey Jude unfortunately became the last Alloy delivery in 2014, due to the global economic crisis. The shipyard sold its premises in 2015.
Hambrook made such a significant impact on his native New Zealand and the global stage that he received two prestigious honors. In 2006, he became a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Appointments reflect meritorious service to the nation, and distinguished accomplishments in a particular field. Hambrook then received the International Superyacht Society’s Leadership Award in 2009, for guiding the then-two-decade rise of Alloy Yachts.
Hambrook is survived by his wife Kristen, four children, and nine grandchildren. A memorial service is being held on February 9 in Auckland.