Boat International is saddened to learn of the passing of Tony Hambrook, one of the leading figures of the New Zealand yachting industry who headed up Alloy Yachts for more than 20 years. Tony died peacefully on February 1 at Mercy Hospice in the arms of his wife Kristen.
Raised in the small rural town of Motueka, Tony was born into a practical family — his father had an engineering workshop and Tony became a heating and ventilation apprentice following high school. By his early 30s he had built his first boat (a 15.8 metre steel ketch, designed by Frank Pelin), and this inspired a three and a half years of sailing adventures, including a circumnavigation of North Island.
The history of Alloy Yachts plays a significant role in Tony’s legacy – he worked as a consultant during the formation of the company in the early 1980s and went on to become managing director in 1989.
His passion for sailing and drive for technological innovation saw the yard build a worldwide reputation for superior engineering and custom design, often working with renowned designer Ed Dubois, who contributed more than 20 designs for the yard over the years. He had a reputation of being a no-holds-barred leader who would deliver nothing less than a perfect superyacht to his customers. To this end, he walked the shop floor of Alloy Yachts on a weekly basis to encourage and motivate his team.
In 2000, he was one of the pioneers of the New Zealand Millennium Cup — the world's most southerly regatta, which continues to this day.
Alloy Yachts broke the 50 metre mark in 2002 with the launch of the 53 metre ketch Drumbeat. Personal honours followed for Tony, including an induction into the Waitakere Business Hall of Fame in 2006, the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2007, and the International Superyacht Society Leadership Award in 2009, presented in recognition of his honesty, hard work and outstanding contribution to the worldwide community of superyachts.
As well as sailing yachts, the yard was involved in a handful of custom motor yacht projects, including the 44.1 metre Hey Jude — the yard’s final launch. Alloy Yachts ceased trading in 2016, prompting Tony to buy a 15 metre Beneteau and take to the seas once more, cruising the South Pacific with his wife.
Tony is survived by his two children, two step-children and nine grandchildren, and a service to celebrate his life will be held at St Luke's Church in Remuera on February 9.