The car dealer and super-yachtsman can now add an “Oscar” and a royal visit of sorts to his credits list. He was also the recipient of a Queen’s Birthday honour.
Neville Crichton, who is based in Sydney, this year received the Legacy Award in the annual World Superyacht Awards for his contribution to that industry. The awards are considered an Oscar of the international yachting arena. Mr Crichton earned the Legacy for “his instrumental role in the establishment and growth of the New Zealand superyacht building industry, his leading position in the world of superyacht racing, his generosity of spirit and his inspiration to others in these fields.”
In June, he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to yachting and business.
On dry land, his three-level mansion in the top Sydney suburb of Vaucluse, named Portofino, became holiday home to Microsoft pioneer and philanthropist Bill Gates and family. The Gates were staying for a month but rented the place for three, to allow the installation and removal of high-tech gadgetry and security measures. Rent was said to be $A25,000 a week.
Mr Crichton’s luxury auto importing business, the Ateco group, lost some and won some. Chrysler Australia Group took over the New Zealand distribution of Fiat and Alfa Romeo vehicles – ending a 10-year association with Ateco. Soon after that announcement, Ateco announced it would distribute the Lotus range in Australia and New Zealand. Plans included driver training modelled on the Lotus Driving Academy, using tracks in Australia and New Zealand.
Mr Crichton, who himself raced cars before turning to yachting had his first win in 1967. He was 19 when he entered a Cortina in a Benson and Hedges six hour hill climb event and won his class. That, he says, was the start of his life-time love of cars.