Better known for its bucolic surroundings than as the centre of a buoyant boating industry, Hobart is the home of a world-leading shipyard: that of Incat. Located in four vast sheds by the Prince of Wales Bay on the banks of the River Derwent – 15 minutes north of the Tasmanian capital – a staff of more than 300 are busy laser-cutting, welding and winching enormous plates of marine-grade aluminium alloy to form the hull of two passenger ferries set for delivery in late 2016. These vessels are bound for Sydney Harbour but Incat’s catamarans and ferries can be found from Aarhus to Baku and are used by the US army, navy and marine corps.
The remarkable thing about the firm, which was established in the late 1970s by former fisherman and ferry operator Robert Clifford, is its location. Despite the expense of importing aluminium from mainland Australia, France and Switzerland, Incat plies its trade on specialism, speed and its dexterity in fulfilling complicated orders, all made easier by loyal staff.
Incat’s boats aren’t just sturdy: they’re quick too. Having won the Hales trophy in 1990 for the fastest transatlantic crossing, the manufacturer subsequently smashed its own record (twice) in 1998 and remains the fastest vessel to have travelled from the US to Europe.
Vessels in service: 60
Longest ship: 130 metres
Speed achieved by Incat's Cat-Link V: 41.3 knots
Year Hoverspeed Great Britain won the Hales trophy for fastest Atlantic crossing: 1990