Naiad designed, YWE-built ‘Transport for NSW’ vessels alongside Whiskey Alpha 85

 Photo by Salty Dingo

September 2, 2020

The Whiskey Project - a cutting-edge watercraft company led by two former Royal Australian Navy veterans - has acquired NSW boat manufacturer Yamba Welding and Engineering (YWE) and New Zealand based naval architecture firm Naiad. These companies will forge The Whiskey Project Group, creating a watercraft design and manufacturing company which will transform Australia and New Zealand’s maritime industry.

Mr Darren Schuback, Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Whiskey Project Group, said the acquisition of YWE and Naiad marks the coming together of three great Australian and New Zealand businesses and heralds an exciting future for Australian watercraft design and manufacturing.


“Through this strategic acquisition, The Whiskey Project Group will offer a family of watercraft ranging from new technology defence solutions to globally renowned law-enforcement and specialist leisure industry craft.” Said Mr Schuback. 


The Whiskey Project’s next generation tactical watercraft, Whiskey Alpha, was launched at the 2019 Pacific International Maritime Expo to great acclaim for its integrated cutting-edge technologies, fit-for-purpose design, complete modularity, design agility and new technology hull manufactured from carbon composite advanced materials.  Purpose built for the demanding maritime defence and law enforcement sector, its technical advances have applications relevant for many other markets.


“The formation of The Whiskey Project Group secures advanced maritime manufacturing capabilities, with a natural cross over of technology and skilled labour between government, specialist and leisure sectors over time.” Said Mr Schuback.


YWE, established in the northern NSW coastal town of Yamba by Bill Collingburn in 1974 and renowned for its boat building expertise, is a trusted supplier of watercraft for police, coast guard, marine rescue, government agencies and Defence, and in the past 10 years has built over 200 vessels for these Australian Federal and State Government agencies.


Mr Collingburn, who is staying in the business as YWE Technical Advisor, said “I am delighted that The Whiskey Project Group share my vision for the future and are committed to the continued growth of YWE and the marine industry.”


The deal includes Naiad, the New Zealand based naval architecture business which YWE itself acquired earlier this year from founder Steve Schmidt – one of New Zealand’s leading marine designers – and his wife Jenny. Naiad boats, renowned for being the “4WD of the Sea” and for their aesthetic appeal, are built under license around the world. Naiads are popular for a wide range of Federal and State Government military, law enforcement and rescue agency vessels, as well as commercial, tourism, recreational and Superyacht tender applications.

“The Whiskey Project, YWE and Naiad have a remarkable cultural synergy that will make The Whiskey Project Group a formidable Australian, New Zealand, and global solution for high performance watercraft,” said Mr Schuback.


“Watercraft from The Whiskey Project Group will be used for marine rescue, they will be used by defence, as tenders for superyachts, by commercial operators, in maritime police operations, by tour operators, in fisheries management and more.


The move is set to benefit the domestic marine industry and regional centres as The Whiskey Project Group’s current organisational workforce footprint (including licencees) covers NSW, ACT, Western Australia and New Zealand, with strategic growth plans that include Queensland and the Northern Territory.


“We’re working to keep Australian and New Zealand marine industry jobs and to future proof the integrity of our innovations and leading-edge technologies.


“The export opportunities for the group are excellent. Naiad already has global reach, and we’re looking to extend this across all of the Group and take our trans-Tasman watercraft design, creation and production to the world.”


The contract was announced today, with transaction completion scheduled for Q4 2020.



Designed in New Zealand for the harsh New Zealand maritime conditions, Naiad is regarded as one of the world’s specialist designers of rigid hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs).  Over 40 years Naiad has earned a reputation for high performance hull design and strength, extreme efficiency, soft-riding to reduce crew-fatigue, and unique end-user design centric features such as removable and easily replaceable fenders.

Based in Picton on the North Island of New Zealand, the Naiad Design team collaborate with customers from around the globe, creating custom solutions from the extensive range of trusted and proven Naiad designs that span 2.5m – 24m.

Naiad developed the world’s first removable
fendering system for ease of repair and maintenance.



Naiad was the first to design cabin structures for inflatable
vessels to provide protection from the elements.

Working in strategic maritime environments, Naiad’s design ingenuity and user-focused innovations have established its authority as a true maritime innovator and industry leader.

With customers ranging from pleasure-seeking recreationist 
to commercial operators and specialist professionals.


“Designed in New Zealand, by New Zealanders.”



Auckland-Boat-Show-2020 logo.jpg

Come and meet the Naiad team at The Auckland Boat Show 2020 – The Cloud Stand 16

With over 40 years in operation, Naiad’s are renowned for great hull integrity, strength and functionality, but also have the agility to be customisable to ensure the end user has the best possible solution for their needs. 


Every day the experienced Naiad design team are working with customers from all corners of the globe to meet their every need whilst creating an aesthetically pleasing solution.

PO Box 252
Picton 7250, New Zealand
Phone +64 3 573 7246


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