At the 2024 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, Ocean spoke with Cooper Chapman, Founder and CEO of the full-service agency Chapman Yachting.

During the wide-ranging conversation, Chapman discusses his group’s multi-faceted expertise in all areas, including refit, maintenance and service, yacht management, charter, crewing and buying/selling vessels.

Cooper also revealed the business will soon add a Queensland headquarters to its offering, moving into boutique premises at The Wharf within The Boat Works superyacht facility from 1 June.

Refits generally result in remarkable transformations, states Jeni Bone, but few are as immediately impressive as the metamorphosis of Shadow.

My first impression of Shadow was the stunning lines,” begins Darren Harvey. “I’m not a fan of the bulky bows on modern superyachts, and Shadow looked sleek and sexy on the water. I never liked the colour either, but I realised she needed more than a paint job to bring her back to full glory.”

Harvey, co-founder of a funds management firm, had enjoyed smaller boats in the past and was ready for the next step. His first impression of Shadow – a 30-metre Tecnomar launched by the Italian Sea Group in 2013 as Zahraa – proved to be a lasting one, and it led him to acquire the yacht with a view to refitting her for commercial operations. The once gaudy, gold-hulled motor yacht that had plied Sydney Harbour as a party boat was soon destined for a major overhaul and, thanks to her new owner’s vision, Cooper Chapman’s expert project management team and in-house engineers, and the combined talents of trades at The Boat Works, Shadow has emerged as a dazzling beacon of both aesthetic and technical allure.

Originally built for a client in the Middle East with all the mod-cons that were typical of the era, the yacht was a finalist in several design awards in
2014. She then endured the searing heat of the Middle East for a few years before being shipped to Australia in 2017 and finally commissioned to AMSA DCV Survey for the charter market.

A bar, lounges and modular furniture give the flybridge a superbly adaptable and welcoming feel.

 Gaby Cara created a stylish and
versatile monochrome interior to suit a range of different charters.

Harvey chose to refit rather than buy new because of the compelling proposition. “With a lot of love and the right people operating it, I knew she would make a fantastic charter boat.” Cooper Chapman, Founder and CEO of the full-service firm Chapman Yachting, was referred by friends of the owners who had been clients and appreciated their model of charter yacht management and operations. He agreed Shadow offered a unique opportunity. “There are only a handful of commercial superyachts in Australia that can accommodate 90 guests for day and corporate charter, or overnight and term charter for eight guests,” he says. In March 2023, Chapman was engaged to budget, plan and oversee the entire refit, then manage and operate the vessel in charter. The model Chapman has pioneered is one of central management running all aspects of the vessel,from repairs and maintenance to scheduling the part-time-permanent crew on a rotating roster.

With Shadow, the objective was to plan and manage a major refit that would make the vessel a frontrunner in the Sydney superyacht charter market. Customer experience was also a priority.  

“Gone are the days of a sole captain running a high-volume charter yacht,” Chapman explains. “When you’re operating four or five charters a week, 90 to 120 days a year, captains and crew can burn out in 12 to 18 months. 

“Our model keeps costs low,” he continues. “The boat runs smoother, and the crew has flexibility and adequate rest, which increases morale and leads to a healthy dynamic on board. 

In winter, we scale the yacht’s contingent back to a skeleton crew. This is becoming increasingly popular with owners, particularly in the 80- to 120-foot range. As a full-service group, we have access to in-house crew, engineers, maintenance teams, specialist trades, a reliable network, charter experts and a sales and marketing team within the company’s existing infrastructure.” 

With Shadow, the objective was to plan and manage a major refit that would make the vessel a frontrunner in the Sydney superyacht charter market. Customer experience was also a priority. After a thorough inspection and assessment by an AMSA-accredited surveyor, an accurate plan and budget were devised followed by a timeline for the works, which was daunting in its breadth and complexity. Chapman also ran the financial control of the project from start to finish. 

Robert Dempster-Smith, Project Manager at Chapman Yachting, coordinated the trades at The Boat Works, Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard, and external contractors within the Coomera Marine Precinct. In addition to the colour conversion from gilded hull to gloss black with metallic silver – Mercedes high-tech silver, to be precise – a custom-designed soft-top was added on the flybridge to provide full protection up top while also retaining the sleek profile Tecnomar is known for. There was also a full redesign of the flybridge to incorporate a bar, lounges and modular furniture for versatility. Interior modifications were carried out to ensure consistency in both theme and styling.

A key part of the refit was the addition of a new hardtop to provide shade for the redesigned and highly social flybridge. From Chapman’s design, BlackPond Marine Consultants created the technical drawings, with Pacific Trim creating the
canvas structure and Wicked Fabrications &
Engineering the aluminium supports.

Working to Chapman’s design, the hardtop technical drawings were provided by BlackPond Marine Consultants. Pacific Trim created the canvas that gives the hardtop structure, while Wicked Fabrications & Engineering created the aluminium supports. 


The bow – once adorned with a flamboyant whale-tale sculpture and a spa pool – was completely redesigned. The pool and sunpads were replaced with generously sized, C-shaped lounge seating, making this prime position an inviting social spot for up to 15 guests. 

BlackPond provided the plans, which were used by Hybrid Composites to build the moulds for the bow seating arrangement and by Wise Boat Building to construct it. The teak work in the new bow was laid by Timber by Design.

O’Neill Shipwrights removed and replaced hardware ahead of exterior painting, and undertook the decking perimeter wipes between
the paint and the teak to secure the new paint works. O’Neill craftspeople worked on the interior panelling, which was reupholstered in the saloon and cabins.

The interiors – previously a cacophony of opulent materials, finishes and effects such as a backlit onyx bar, mirrored panels, furniture in textured jacquard satin, blockout blinds and dramatic lighting – were masterfully revised by interior designer Gaby Cara, whose experience was honed conjuring concepts for high-end residential properties. She was initially engaged to work solely on the flybridge, but the brief was expanded to ensure the saloon and cabins
aligned with the renovation.

It’s important charter guests feel at ease from the moment they step on board. I wanted the interiors to be neutral and sophisticated because there’s no end to the variety of events Shadow could host, from hen nights to corporate charters – besides, Sydney Harbour is breathtaking enough. 

“We decided it was going to take more than a few cushions to bring Shadow into a new era,” Cara says, adding she looked to the boat’s name for inspiration. “Owners have moved on from traditional nautical motifs,” she observes. “I wanted to achieve that welcoming, homey feel while keeping it mostly monochromatic.

 “Sticking to the budget meant largely cosmetic changes – we used black vinyl wrap over the onyx bar and illuminated wall panels; removed the gold fixtures and replaced them with black; reupholstered the sofas, chairs and beds; and added loose furniture in a monochrome palette in shades of grey for interest.” 

Travelling from Sydney, Cara visited The Boat Works several times during the refit. She worked closely with trades and specialists on site, including Wrap It Marine and Pacific Trim. “All furniture had to be lightweight, movable and easily stowed, or be able to be converted into sunpads if needed,” she says. 

She brought her retinue of suppliers to the project, sourcing sofas and decor items from Cosh Living, interior fabrics from Dedar Italy, and marine-grade fabrics for use on deck from Sunbrella and Mariaflora. “It’s important charter guests feel at ease from the moment they step on board,” she explains. 

“I wanted the interiors to be neutral and sophisticated because there’s no end to the variety of events Shadow could host, from hen nights to corporate charters, a tropical party theme or a baby shower. I chose interior elements that work with everything – besides, Sydney Harbour is breathtaking enough.”

Coinciding with the vessel’s 10-year maintenance period, she was due for an overhaul of all machinery and ancillary equipment. Ashore Engineering undertook the repair of engine exhausts, the replacement of throughhull fittings and valves, and the rebuild of the bow and stern thrusters. The entertainment system on board was upgraded, replaced with the latest Fusion audio set-up, a Smart TV in the saloon and a Starlink Maritime system for highspeed internet even in more remote destinations. 

Finally, finishing off the five-month refit, Shadow was given a brilliant, high-gloss two-tone respray to suit her revitalised image. The paint job was undertaken by Superyacht Solutions, led by Director Steve Wicks. “Shadow certainly arrived in a neglected state and in need of some tender loving care,” he says. 

“In the refit game, working like a well-oiled machine is important. It was our first time working with the team from Chapman – they had a good idea of what they were doing and, most importantly, they were willing to accept input from the various trades involved to produce a coordinated activity schedule. It all went very smoothly, and the result is a vessel that has been reborn.” 

Chapman is proud of the efforts by his team and all trades engaged on what was a massive project. “Given the scale and scope of the project, and the quality, we exceeded all expectations on timing and the project was delivered on budget,” he enthuses. “Shadow arrived at The Boat Works on 18 April and all the works were completed in time for her departure on 23 September.” 

The budget of over AU$2.1 million was, Chapman asserts, well worth it. “The refit ensures Shadow is a top-echelon charter vessel,” he offers. “She came straight out of the blocks and, within two days of arriving in Sydney, hosted an 85-passenger charter up to Homebush, dropping her guests at the NRL Grand Final. And it didn’t stop over the summer season – we hosted a launch event at Rose Bay Marina for over 200 guests, with sponsors and event partners of the calibre of Maserati, The Luxury Network, Grand Seiko, Whispering Angel, Moët Hennessy and beluga caviar. 

“Since October 2023,” he continues, “Shadow has been highly successful in the Sydney market, hosting events for Fendi Australia, Max Media, Hello Molly and Ocean Media – in excess of 60 commercial charters.” 

Reflecting on the process and the finished product, Darren Harvey is extremely satisfied with his as-new Shadow. “The restoration is absolutely amazing,” he enthuses. “She always had beautiful lines, and now she’s beautiful inside and out. What I really like about the new layout is the lovely individual entertaining areas. Whether you have six or 60 people on board, it feels great. People can spread out. 

“Now, with the custom-made protection on the flybridge, Shadow is a super social boat with lots of gathering places that are all equally special,” he continues. “We have four kids and they bring their friends along. Teenagers don’t want to hang around adults, so it’s great they can break away and find their own space.”

 Charter guests have reported their approval too. “I received a text from a contact of mine who chartered Shadow to say: ‘I recently chartered your boat and it was just fantastic – we had the most wonderful time, and the crew was awesome.’ That’s the main objective,” states Harvey proudly.

“Shadow is a working boat and, to me, it’s vital she has a great reputation. I’m in the business of trust and the management of people’s money, so when people make the connection between Darren Harvey and Shadow, it’s imperative they have a five-star experience.” 

Indeed, the project has been so successful that Chapman will open an office at The Boat Works in May, taking space in the new premises called The Wharf. “The Shadow refit is a prime example of the extent of our services and our expertise,” concludes Chapman. “We’re currently quoting several complex refits off the back of Shadow, and we’re confident of a few more over winter at our new Gold Coast home at The Boat Works.”

The recent refit of 100-foot (30-metre) luxury charter yacht, Shadow, is just one of several refit projects Chapman has lined up at The Boat Works on Queensland’s Gold Coast in 2024.

Chapman will soon make The Boat Works its refit and yacht refit headquarters also including antifouling and detailing services, taking up occupancy in boutique premises at “The Wharf”, from 1 June.

The incredible success of the complete overhaul of Shadow, the 100-foot Tecnomar superyacht imported to Australia in 2017, has been the impetus for four more projects of similar size and complexity, including a commercial contract for a fascinating vessel that will be used for campaigning in the south pacific and eventually travel the Southern Ocean.

Chapman has also been contracted to undertake a comprehensive refinish and machinery upgrade of SEA RAES owned by Raes Byron Bay, one of Australia’s most exclusive boutique hotels.

Prior to these projects, Chapman was instrumental in the refit and service works for vessels on the Gold Coast since 2021, including the 30-metre Majesty “LEGACY”, 42-metre Mondo Marine “Impulsive”, 27-metre Moonen “Industrie”, 26-metre Warren “Suzy Q” 25-metre Sunseeker “BEYOND” and several production vessels.

Thanks to Chapman’s expert project management team, crew, in-house engineers and maintenance staff, and the talented trades at The Boat Works, Shadow underwent a remarkable refit that took this unique and compelling commercial package from gaudy gold-hulled harbour cruise vessel to one of Australia’s most prestigious charter yachts.

The owner was referred to Chapman by friends who were clients of Chapman and could recommend their full-service firm to manage every facet of the refit, as well as operating and managing the entire yacht on their behalf post-completion of refit works.

Cooper Chapman, Founder & Group CEO, described Shadow as “totally without peer in the Australian charter market”.

“There are very few charter vessels that can accommodate 90 guests for day and corporate charter or overnight and term charter for eight guests. There was a lot to work with, and relying on the exceptional marine trade professionals at The Boat Works, with project management by Chapman, Shadow has emerged a 5-star charter yacht, in high demand on the east coast.”

In March 2023, Chapman was engaged to budget, plan and oversee the entire refit, then manage and operate the vessel in charter. Chapman handles all aspects of the vessel, from repairs and maintenance to scheduling the part-time-permanent crew on a rotating roster and support of the yacht in all aspects of maintenance and general operations.

“This way, we can keep costs low and the yacht running efficiently,” he said. “As a full-service agency, we have access to in-house crew, engineers, maintenance teams, specialist trades, a reliable network, charter experts on our team and sales and marketing team within the existing infrastructure of the company.”

After her hull to flybridge makeover, Shadow hit the water in a shimmering “Mercedes high-tech Silver”, with a new flybridge hard-top for full protection, and a new layout comprising bar, lounges and soft furnishing.

The bow too was completely re-designed to create a social lounge area for up to 15 guests.

The interiors were revamped to reflect the sophisticated and understated new palette, in line with the vessel’s name, keeping it monochrome and neutral for events and special occasions.

The entertainment system on board was upgraded, replaced with the latest Fusion audio set-up, SmartTV in the saloon and Starlink Maritime system for high-speed internet in even in remote locations.

Works were carried out in The Boat Works Superyacht Sheds, which provide access to high-tech extraction units, cooling towers, scaffold hire and storage containers, plus the latest generation Aqualuma LED lighting that allowed them to work around the clock.

“I started my career at The Boat Works 16 years ago detailing a Fairline on behalf of my father, Mark, and have a great deal of respect and admiration for the ethos and attention to detail of the trades on-site and The Boat Works’ management team,” said Cooper.

“The Boat Works is home to 90 on-site marine businesses who love what they do and do it well. They are committed to exceptional service and world-class quality. The Boat Works is the ideal pitstop for all vessels travelling south to north each year. We intend to raise the bar in refits and maintenance for all our clients.”

Cooper said the smooth process and end result is a template for future refits, exceeding expectations and coming in on time and on budget.

“In just five months, Shadow was given a thorough renewal, not only in aesthetics, but mechanically in terms of machinery, auxiliaries, refrigeration, air-conditioning systems, essential navigation equipment as well. Shadow is an income-generating asset.

“Over summer 2023-24, Shadow worked non-stop and by word of mouth alone, we booked several charters for brands such as Maserati, Hello Molly, The Luxury Network, Fendi, Max Media, Ocean Media and more.

“This successful refit is testament to our services and our expertise. We offer owners the full range of Yacht services in-house. From management and operations of vessels, refit and project management, charter and booking management, recruitment, antifoul and detailing.

“We want to make it an easy decision for Sydney customers and operators to transit to The Boat Works to carry out the works required on board their vessels. We can offer budgeting, pre-negotiated works and give the client an accurate timeline of works before the yacht arrives. All finance, warranty and everything in-between the actual scope of works is managed in-house by Chapman.”

The Sydney International Boat Show 2023 will be on from 3-6 August. Our sister company, Chapman Marine Group will be there exhibiting some of their amazing vessels! 

Sydney Boat Show 2023 Dates

The Sydney Boat Show will be hosted in Darling Harbour from 3-6 August 2023 and will feature fishing masterclasses, as well as a sailing and paddling hub and a full exhibition of all the latest products in the boating world. 

Experience the spectacle of nautical brilliance that is the Sydney Boat Show, the Southern Hemisphere’s most significant boating event. Marvel at the stunning array of cutting-edge designs and innovations in the maritime industry. Whether you’re a boating enthusiast or new to the world of yachts, this show promises an action-packed day filled with insightful forums, live demonstrations, and hands-on experiences. 

Connect with like-minded people, learn from industry experts, and perhaps, discover the boat of your dreams. Mark your calendar – the Sydney Boat Show is an unmissable sea-faring extravaganza!

The History of the Sydney Boat Show

The Sydney International Boat Show, an iconic event in the maritime world, first sailed into existence as a standalone event in 1968. It initially dropped anchor at the Hordern Pavilion at Moore Park, where it stayed until 1985.

In 1986, the show set a new course and moved to a temporary facility in Pyrmont. This move marked a significant turning point as the on-water component was introduced, adding an exciting new dimension to the show. These three transformative years in Pyrmont laid the groundwork for what would become a long, successful journey at the nearby Darling Harbour.

1989 heralded a milestone year with the grand opening of the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre. This sophisticated facility was a stone’s throw away from Cockle Bay, enriching the show with its proximity to the water. The show’s popularity surged, leading to a massive growth phase over the next 25 years at Darling Harbour, culminating in 2013.

After the show in 2013, the Darling Harbour area underwent a major upgrade, which led the show to make a temporary move to Glebe Island from 2014 to 2016. This period saw the show split between two locations, with the increasingly popular marina component stationed at Cockle Bay. A ferry service was implemented to ferry guests between the two locations, adding a nautical twist to the visitor experience.

In 2017, marking its 50th edition, the Sydney International Boat Show made a triumphant return to Darling Harbour. The spacious International Convention Centre, Sydney, now hosts the undercover displays, while the breathtaking marina displays continue to amaze guests just minutes away at Cockle Bay.

As the show prepares to unfurl its sails for the 54th time this year, it stands as a testament to over half a century of marine innovation, perseverance and an unwavering passion for the sea. The Sydney International Boat Show, with its rich history and continuous evolution, remains an unmissable event on the maritime calendar – get your tickets now!

Parking at the Sydney Boat Show

Attending the 2023 Sydney International Boat Show and worried about parking? Put your concerns to rest. With an array of parking options in and around the venue, finding a spot for your vehicle will be a breeze.

The International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney has two dedicated car park facilities nestled within the Exhibition Centre and the ICC Theatre. With a combined total of 826 car spaces, these facilities provide ample parking space for attendees.

In addition, there are multiple secure car parks in and around the Darling Harbour precinct, providing even more options for visitors. The closest one is located at the Harbourside Car Park, 100 Murray Street, Pyrmont. This location is just a short walk from the show, providing easy access for all attendees.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you can rest assured that finding a parking spot at the Sydney International Boat Show 2023 will be as smooth as sailing on calm waters. Remember to plan your trip in advance to choose the best parking option for you, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience.

Sydney Boat Show Exhibitors 2023

The Sydney International Boat Show 2023 promises non-stop entertainment and enriching experiences that go beyond the showcase of boats, marine gear, and gadgets. Dive into an array of masterclasses, entertaining shows, and engaging educational experiences.

Fishing Masterclasses

For the fishing enthusiasts, the Main Stage in the ICC Halls will be hosting thrilling fishing demonstrations and masterclasses. Renowned angler David ‘Mossy’ Moss will be presenting at the Shimano Fishing Tank, along with Channel 7’s Boating, Fishing & Weather Expert Paul Burt. Find these sessions on level 1 of the ICC Halls.

Shimano Fishing Tank Demonstrations

The mobile Shimano Fishing Tank, hosted by David ‘Mossy’ Moss, offers unique insights into life beneath the water. Enjoy casting demonstrations, learn about the latest lures, and pick up tips on the best angling techniques.

Andrew 'ET' Ettingshausen

Sydney local Andrew ‘ET’ Ettingshausen, a legendary figure in Rugby League, has carved a successful career in fishing with his TV show Escape Fishing with ET. Experience the excitement of ET’s fishing adventures at the Main Stage or grab an autograph at his stand on the Cockle Bay Foreshore.

Sailing & Paddling Hub

In 2023, the show introduces the Sailing & Paddling Hub, an interactive showcase hosted by ‘Sailor Girl’ Nic Douglass on the Cockle Bay Foreshore. Discover the exhilarating world of sailing and paddling, and hear from leading identities like Lisa Blair, who shares her enthralling story of sailing around Antarctica.

Boating Safety Zone

Visit the Boating Safety Zone, where Transport for NSW and their safety partners, including NSW Maritime, Australian Maritime College (AMC), Maritime Teachers Association NSW (MTA), TAFE NSW, and several others, will answer your questions and provide the latest information for a safe and enjoyable time on the water. You can find this valuable resource on level 1 of the ICC Halls.

This year’s Sydney International Boat Show is shaping up to be an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a seasoned boatie, a fishing enthusiast, or a novice eager to learn, there’s something exciting for everyone at the show. Be sure to check out Chapman Marine Group’s exhibit for a glimpse at some amazing vessels!

In this episode, the host engages in a chat with one of the owner’s of Chapman Yachting, Debbie Leenderts. They are renowned for being the most revolutionary and customer-centric yacht hire agency Sydney has to offer. Luxury boats and super yachts serve as the vessels through which valuable relationships and personally-tailored experiences are created.

Debbie shares how Chapman coordinates the handpicked luxury charter vessels to be readily available in Australia’s most popular destinations, including Sydney Harbour, Pittwater, The Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef, Western Australia, and the Kimberleys, to host spectacular parties, events, and holidays for a lineup of guests and customers.

This conversation provides an intimate look at ‘behind the scenes’ events in the marine industry, allowing guests and owners to enjoy their watercraft and the unique Australian waterways.

Once again, the audience is invited to enjoy this inspiring story of ‘Women in Boating’ as the host shares the endless opportunities that exist.

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