Kong & Halvorsen Yachts
As we set the stage to southern Norway, near Arendal, the curtain opens to the year 1887 when Halvorsen Boats was founded by a man named Halvor Andersen, a farmer who launched his first wooden boat. Our next character joins the stage —Lars, Halvor’s son, who followed in his dad’s boat builder footsteps. The next act require tissues, as Lars loses everything when he sinks the Nidelv, an uninsured sailing ship on its maiden voyage! In 1922, Lars then heads to Cape Town, South Africa to begin again. Success returns as Lars decided to start a business repairing lifeboats damaged on the voyage to Cape Town. He and his five sons weren’t able to live off that meager income so he returned to his boat building roots.
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Fast forward a couple of years (1924) when Sydney was Lars’ next stop where he brought his son, Harold, along with him with the rest of the family arriving in 1925. These next years, through 1980, were the golden ones as the once small boat builder turns into a major family enterprise pumping out over 1500 craft with the Halvorsen name —then known by the Australians for its quality and design.
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World War II brought the Halvorsens the business (in their shipyard in Ryde, New South Wales) to build more than 250 boats for the armed forces in America, the Netherlands, and Australia all backed by a staff of 350 craftsmen. 178 air-sea rescue Halvorsens defended Sydney Harbour and Australia. They even designed and built, eleven ‘war-ready’ 110 foot "Fairmile B" cruisers. At Lar’s passing in 1936, his eldest son Harold took the baton as managing director of the newly formed company, Lars Halvorsen Sons, Pty. Ltd. and was designer for commercial and pleasure craft and most of the wartime vessels. In 2000, Harold was awarded the Order of Australia Medal, for his contribution in the war effort, and before this time, in 1991, Carl Halvorsen was made a Knight First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit by King Harald.
Our next act begins after World War II, when the company acquires a lease at Bobbin Head located north of Sydney in the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. The family built a fleet of around two hundred hire boats there —the world's largest privately owned fleet. In 2000, ninety of their classic boats held a regatta on the Hawkesbury River on the 75th anniversary of the family’s arrival in Australia AND Harold Halvorsen's ninetieth birthday!!!
In 1962, Lars Halvorsen Sons, Pty. Ltd. built the first Australian challenger for the America's Cup—Gretel.
The next three years was when Lars' sons Trygve and Magnus Halvorsen won three Sydney to Hobart races while sailing Freya designed by Trygve and built by Lars Halvorsen Sons, Pty. Ltd. They still hold the record for three consecutive Sydney to Hobart wins.
In the 1960s Harold's son, Harvey Halvorsen, took the title of company designer, and in 1975, he formed a joint venture — Sons Pty. Ltd. and Joseph Kong, former General Manager of American Marine Company, in Hong Kong to design, build and market a new fleet of pleasure boats worldwide. The company was then named Kong & Halvorsen Marine & Engineering Company, Ltd. and over the next two decades, hundreds of vessels ranging from 30 to 134 feet were built under the Kong & Halvorsen, Island Gypsy, and Halvorsen brand names. To this date, over 900 Halvorsen Boats were built in China and exported to the world. In 2000, Kong & Halvorsen Marine's 20 year contract with the Chinese government had expired and the factory closed. Harvey and his son Mark Halvorsen continued to build boats by contracting to approved yards and there they launched two new models, the Gourmet Cruiser and a passage maker named the Solo.
The company was even asked to be part of an exhibition in 2004-05 at the Australian National Maritime Museum named Dream Boats and Work Boats - The Halvorsen Story.
Mark Halvorsen had been in the business since 1980 when he sold his first second hand Halvorsen 30' Viking in Sydney. From 1985 to ’88, he lived in the USA where he worked in San Francisco at Halvorsen Yachts and then in the Newport Beach. He moved to Hong Kong where he has been living and working ever since. He owns Halvorsen Boat Sales in Australia and Halvorsen Marine Limited in Hong Kong. All Halvorsen boats are built under contract for Mark in Southern China and then imported into Australia. He also specializes in the restoration of vintage Halvorsen Boats.
Some neat facts: YECATS, a 134 ft Kong & Halvorsen Motor yacht, appeared in the 1987 film Overboard starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. The same boat renamed Attessa appeared in the movie Indecent Proposal starring Woody Harrelson, Robert Redford, and Demi Moore.
Halvorsen has just announced that the new model 44 Coastal Cruiser has arrived into Australia. She was delivered into Botany Bay from Hong Kong and cruised up the East Coast on her maiden voyage to the Hawkesbury River where she is under-going her commissioning and make ready with a full Raymarine electronics package.
This 44 is built on the existing 42 Coastal Cruiser semi displacement hull form with the added feature of 2 extra feet in the aft deck area length. And actually, this beauty has one of the largest aft deck entertaining areas in this size of pleasure boat!
Buyers can feel confident that if looking at a Kong & Halvorsen, the company promises a stellar product will be yours for many years to come!