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GCCM: 20 Years & Counting – Celebrating the Pioneers of Refit & Repair

GCCM: 20 Years & Counting – Celebrating the Pioneers of Refit & Repair

The start of the new year marks 20 years since the gates first opened at Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard (GCCM). The iconic facility now blends into the thriving dedicated 250-hectare marine precinct in Coomera; yet 20 years ago, it stood alone as a beacon and a sign of things to come.

The genesis of the development started in the 1980s when patriarch of the Gay family, Pat, was co-chair of the then newly formed Gold Coast Waterway Authority. The first order of business was to construct the Southport Seaway, and it soon became very clear, the land on the Spit would, before long, become too valuable for marine repair facilities.

Thus, the industry body earmarked a reach of the Coomera River as the future South East Queensland epicentre of marine services and manufacturing. At that point, boat owners were running between The Spit, Runaway Bay, Jacobs Well, and even the Brisbane River to find slipways, contractors and service providers. Not only to the benefit of the Gold Coast’s master plan, yet also to better serve the boating public, the Gold Coast Marine Precinct was born on farming land.

In 1996, the Gay family had the chance to purchase waterfront blocks in the area, and so began the planning for GCCM. It was ground-breaking. Never before in Australia had a site consolidated all the major marine trades into one clean, expansive and professionally managed site. Rather than slipways, boat owners had access to modern travel lifts. Rather than a dispersed marine industry, boat owners had all the necessary trades within the facility handpicked for their expertise. It may seem the norm now, but it was the disruptor of its time.

The Gays partnered with the Leigh-Smith family, who had a wealth of experience in managing marinas on the Gold Coast. The team was clear in its goal to select and amass the leading companies who offered the very best in craftsmanship. Not only was the facility different to what had gone previously yet so were the tenants. Only the best would do, and through the decades and changes – the Leigh-Smiths moved on in 2014 – the course has not altered.



Today, the facility is packed with over 80 thriving marine businesses at the very top of their games; driving each other to new heights; and giving the customer choices aplenty located right at the transom door; no running around chasing contractors; plenty of options available, competitive quotes and confidence in quality outcomes. The facility plays home to many of the

smartest minds and most talented craftsmen in the Australian marine industry. A team of passionate mariners who all go to great lengths to get boats back on the water, and to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible. Like an iconic rock brand or an unbeatable rugby union team – the ‘whole’ at GCCM is definitely greater than the sum of its parts and together they have become respected around Australia and the world as a truly committed team of outstanding marine professionals.

“At GCCM, we’re all boaties, so we understand the boat is every boatie’s happy place. We know how hard people work so they can own a boat, how hard they work to maintain a boat, so we want them to take full advantage of that ‘asset’ by maximising time out on the water reaping the rewards of their toil. That does not include more time than necessary on the hardstand or in a refit shed. This is why GCCM was created, and everyone here is driven to getting boats back out on the water where they belong and keeping them out there for as long as possible. It’s in our DNA,” Mr Trenton Gay, CEO of GCCM, enthused.



This ethos and the commitment to excellence and empathetic customer service have not gone unnoticed. GCCM has been awarded the Marina Industries Association’s Best Boatyard of The Year Award on a record number of occasions and has recently been inducted into the MIA Hall of Fame. Yet perhaps the greatest proof of this winning formula is the following of boat owners (from jet ski’s to superyachts) from all over the globe who sing the yard’s praises.

“After a long sailing voyage, GCCM was just the tonic we needed. The warm, friendly, and helpful staff made our 3-day stay relaxing and enjoyable right from the start. Holly welcomed us with great enthusiasm and provided us with all the local information we needed. The use of the courtesy car was a real bonus for getting essential boat bits and groceries. Thank you GCCM for your fabulous service. We’ll be back!” offered Katherine and Gary, owners of SV Lady Katherine, a 14-metre ketch.

“GCCM is definitely the best set up shipyard in Australia. Contractors at GCCM are world class and with the depth and breadth in each category, you are guaranteed to have the work done on time. As this was our first time in the yard, we have made some new and lasting work friendships and developed relationships with local businesses. Overall, the experience was seamless and impressively productive.”

Rather than slowing down or getting complacent, 20 years later, GCCM is powering on with future developments in the pipeline due in 2020; a stage two development, which will more than double the site, new undercover work areas, and upgraded 24/7 fuelling facilities.

Yet it is as much about expansive facilities as it is about the boats that have passed through. The team estimate that, to date, they have lifted over 100,000 boats. With that many boats, you would think it would be difficult to pick some favourites. However, the GCCM team was bursting with stories when we asked them for their memorable projects.


Travis Slatter – Operations Manager (10 years)

I started as an antifoul applicator at GCCM and have worked my way up. It has given me great insight into all the facets of the yard and marina not to mention interactions with some amazing boats and owners. Russell Gage sticks in my mind. Like him, I am a keen fisherman so when he started coming to the yard, I was keen to learn fishing tips from him. He has been so generous with his knowledge not just on fishing but on boats in general; he has even invited me to go fishing with him. He is more than a client; he is a friend.


Jef Kikuchi – 50 tonne Straddle Carrier Operator

I can’t say I have a favourite boat which has come through the yard. To me they are all equal and should be treated accordingly. A smile doesn’t
cost anything but goes a long way. What I enjoy about my job is the connections with tenants and customers. It is a great social interaction as much as anything else. I look forward to starting the morning getting to know more from the owners about the boats to be lifted and their idiosyncrasies. It is a pleasure to work with tenants like Doug Fielding at Regatta Marine. He is keen to assist, and together, we are a great team to get the job at hand done.


Briar Lemberg – Reception 

I am the newbie at GCCM, but I am no stranger to sailing or shipyards. As a kid, I sailed sabots and lasers competing in the national sabot championships. After Uni, I cruised six years in Europe and the Caribbean as a head stewardess on superyachts. That is a very customer-focused role where you need to problem solve on an hourly basis. Now I get to do that for the clients of GCCM, and I must admit I do already have a favourite; my Mum and Dad who are cruising the east coast in their sailing catamaran. It is an exciting place to work for the variety of boats and people who come through the facility.

Congratulations to the GCCM team past, present and future. We look forward to seeing what the next 20 years will bring.


Published in the Jan-Mar 2020 edition.