Cambridge boat builder powering ahead

6 October 2016

Laszlo Boats

It’s one of the most competitive sports in the world, and one in which New Zealand excels. The successes of New Zealand’s rowing team is well documented and is been a mainstay of the Kiwi Olympic effort for almost two decades now. 

But it’s not just competitive on the water for the athletes, with the rowing boat manufacturing scene a hot bed of competition to produce the best boats with the best technology, at the best price for a market place that includes everyone from novice school rowers right up to Olympic champions.

Founded by Laszlo Kertesz and Vera Bucsu, Laszlo Boats is based in Cambridge and produces not only rowing skiffs, but also canoes and kayaks using the very latest in laminate and marine technology.

It was born out of KIRS, a boat manufacturing company specialising in rowing skiffs only, but it is now gearing up to take on the world and fly the Buy New Zealand Made flag in one of sport’s most competitive arenas.

“KIRS had a really good reputation in terms of quality,” explained Vera, who runs the marketing side of the business. “Laszlo, my partner, had been the chief boat builder of that company for ten years, learning how to build winning boats that the likes of Olympic champions Rob Waddell and Mahé Drysdale both used at stages of their careers.

“When it went into liquidation it was a no-brainer, we had to give it a try,” she added. “It was such a massive opportunity and we would be foolish not to give it 100 per cent. It is the chance to develop something great from these gold medal winning boats.”

Hailing originally from the Hungarian capital city of Budapest, Laszlo was a top-quality kayak boat builder originally, but also had a strong affinity with rowing as a former national champion oarsman.

In fact, in their early days it was Laszlo who helped introduce Vera to the sport. “I ended up with a new hobby and a new hubby,” she jokes. Yet ten years ago their life took a dramatic shift when Vera a passionate wine enthusiast sipped a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

“I was so blown away by the taste that the next day we bought the tickets to come to New Zealand and two months later we moved here.”

Now eight months into the project, Vera, is happy with the way the new company is progressing. She and Laszlo are optimistic and have some bold ambitions for the future, to build the Laszlo brand in New Zealand and also internationally, flying the Buy New Zealand Made flag and continually highlighting what it means for them - ingenuity, creativity, hard work and value for money.

Taking on the best boat manufacturers in the world is basically what it is going to be about for the fledging Cambridge company and they have already achieved notable success, increasing sales in New Zealand and securing their first international title as a boat manufacturer in the shape of world lightweight champion single sculler Adam Ling, who also used Laszlo equipment to score back to back domestic single sculling titles.

Laszlo will also be the official boat supplier and service agent for the 2017 World masters games regatta, an international event which will attract thousands of competitors to Lake Karapiro, where the national squad train and a venue which has hosted countless world class rowing events over the years, including the 2010 Rowing World Championships.