As the coronavirus continues to change and reshape the world as we know it, Cruising World is reaching out to contributors, our partners in the marine industry and other sailors to get their take on where they are and how they’re doing. We’re asking five questions to each of them, and in this installment, we’re checking in on Andy Huang, CEO of Hylas Yachts International and Commercial Director of Queen Long Marine in Taiwan.
1. Where are you at present, what’s going on, and how is the coronavirus response affecting your day-to-day life?
I am at the office in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I am doing fine, and everyone that I know is doing fine also. There are few cases in Kaohsiung, and most people who are quarantined are the ones that came back from other countries. Day-to-day life definitely has changed, as most people and I have cut down social activities. No more bars, karaoke, movies, etc. There is no stay-home restriction. We are required to wear masks, and keep the hands clean when using public transportation.
2. Your shipyard, Queen Long Marine, is located in Taiwan. How has the business been affected by the virus? Did the plant close for some period, and, if so, what changes did you have to institute to allow workers to return?
We check all employees’ temperature, enforce a mask-wearing policy and a hand sanitizing policy. We are running low on commercial masks since all the mask production is focused on producing medical grade masks. Suppliers in other countries are closed and they can’t deliver the parts and materials. The current order book for yachts will keep us busy until the third quarter of 2021. Queen Long remains fully operational and has never been closed since the virus outbreak.
3. You brought the new Germán Frers-designed Hylas 60 to the Miami International Boat Show this past winter. It’s a totally new look for the Hylas range, which has featured fairly traditional looking center-cockpit cruisers. Can you talk about the thinking behind this new model?
After market research and several discussions with the designer and potential prospects, we came up with the H60 design. It is very attractive in terms of the look, performance, deck setup and life-style aboard. It will be the luxury, performance and modern model for the Hylas range. We believe that with this model, we will be able to get into a certain market and offer a boat that is attractive to a certain group of sailors.
4. Hylas also has a new Bill Dixon-designed 57 in the works that we’ll hopefully see in the fall at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis. Can you describe the concept that went into the design of this boat?
With the H60 being a bit more unique, we still need to offer a new model that is more in line with our main clientele. The older models have been around for years and it is time to give the Hylas range a fresh new look. It is not just a new design, it is also about the stuff behind the scene. We took a dive into the nitty gritty of the use of new materials and different construction technique and design. With Dixon, we are able to engineer the way the boat is built. There are many good improvements that allow us to manufacture with higher efficiency and still maintain the quality and the strength of the boat. One of the big changes we’ve made with the two new designs is to go from hand-laid fiberglass hulls and decks to infused parts. To do this, we’ve tapped the expertise of Atech Composites, a Taiwanese company that specializes in SCRIMP technology and large composite structures. Infusion allows us to closely control the amount of resin used, and thereby reduce weight and increase the strength of panels. Once a hull and deck have been molded, the team at Queen Long takes over to complete the yacht.
5. Looking ahead to the next couple of years, what projects at Hylas are you most excited about?
I am very excited about the Hylas 48, 57, and the 60 projects as they represent the new generation of Hylas. There are some discussions with our designers and prospects on two other projects that I am very excited about, but I cannot disclose those details yet.