Our Team

Our Team

The Empire Marina Bobbin Head team lead by Captain John Lawler, are very experienced boaters and sailors, who impart their experience and passion for boats into every aspect of our marina business.   We are proud to provide a summary of their experience below:

Captain John Lawler – Marina Director

John commenced his career as a shipwright apprentice at Carina Yachts and McConaghy Boats in Sydney. His career has spanned the world including 20 years in the superyacht industry with more than 15yrs as captain of superyachts over 175ft.  He was also the build captain on Mirabella V – the world’s largest sloop at 264ft.   He has more than 300,000 nautical miles at sea across the globe, including competing in 8 Sydney to Hobart races. He won Line & Handicap Honours on the maxi “Sovereign” in 1986 that he and the team built at Carina Yachts. He has represented Australia internationally in various ocean going regattas, including the Admirals Cup in the UK and the Kenwood Cup in Hawaii. Just for fun, he has also cruised his own Cavalier 43 out to Fiji, Tonga and Louisaides.   In addition to his extensive yachting experience, his qualifications include Master Class V, UK Master Class IV for vessels up to 3000 tonnes, Diploma of Marine Surveying from Lloyds Maritime Academy in the UK, Marine Engine Driver Grade II (MED II), Advanced Marina Management.  

Captain John’s extensive local and international experience gives him great perspective and understanding in the practical approach to the needs of discerning boating customers. His exemplary boat handling, together with his practical and cost effective approach to boat maintenance, is a great asset to the marina.

Contact John: john@empiremarinas.com.au

Collin Cini - Hardstand and Operations Manager

Collin commenced his boating career in 2009 at Fenwicks Marina operating travel lifts and slipping boats and since then he has gained an extraordinary amount of experience to become one of the most experienced operators in the industry. His great skills include operating machinery such as a submersible lift, a 40 tonne land transporter and 800 tonne ship lift and of course an abundance of forklifts. Collin has lifted and stood boats such as Wild Oats 11, Ragamuffin and Blackjack. On the motoryacht side he’s lifted them all - from 82ft Sunseekers to 76ft Warrens, from Palm Beach Cruisers to small navy vessels, from government ferries and cruisers to small recreational cruisers and Halvorsens. Collin’s last position was in a commercial shipyard and having moved to Empire Marina Bobbin Head he’s looking forward to working on our clients boats with our 50 tonne travel lift and being part of a more community based environment. Your pride and joy is in very safe hands with Collin and his passion for boats shines through in all that he does.

Contact Collin: collin@empiremarinas.com.au

Nicky Vaux - Partner and Business Development Manager

Nicky Vaux is a partner and the Business Development Manager at Empire Marina Bobbin Head and was previously the Dealer principal at Empire Boat Sales. She thoroughly enjoys her role working in what is often termed Sydney's Boating Paradise. After all, working in a marina on the water is rather special. Her Degree in Hospitality and Catering Management meant that creating Waterside Bistro at the marina in January 2020 was an exciting project for her, and her expertise is evident in the recently received Marina Restaurant of the Year in the MIA Awards. Nicky is a passionate advocate for getting more women into boating and into the boating industry. She holds a position as a Director on the Board of the Marina Industries Association, contributes to Ocean Magazine and enjoys an extensive network within the industry, both in Australia and overseas, along with an active following on social media and on her podcast in her pseudonym as The Boat Princess.

Nicky's ethos, enjoyment and approach to her role is based on the fundamental belief that nothing feels better than making others feel good and being on the water makes everyone feel good #bluemind.

Contact Nicky: nv@empiremarinas.com.au.
Visit Nicky on Linkedin. Follow her on Instagram @theboatprincess and subscribe to her podcast.

Michelle Nicholls – Office Manager

Michelle has been with Empire Marina Bobbin Head for over 15 years.   She’s seen the growth and development of the marina from the small family-run Halvorsen business, to a world-class, award-winning modern facility, first-hand.  Having joined as a Junior Office Assistant, her dedication, loyalty and hard work saw her quickly progress through the ranks.   Empire Marina Bobbin Head just wouldn’t be the same without her familiar face.  Michelle loves the diversity of the clients she meets - they are from all walks of life, and the very positive community feel amongst the marina’s tenants, clients and staff, making it a pleasure to come to work.

If anyone needs to know anything about anything in and around the marina, Michelle is sure to be able to help. She is a fountain of useful information – and her best piece of advice to boaties…check the weather!

Michelle grew up around boats. She has many childhood memories of happy, fun-filled days on her family’s Halvorsen Cruiser 36’ called “Minmay”. These early experiences fuelled her love of boating and she believes time spent on a boat, jet skiing, fishing, swimming, eating and relaxing is undoubtedly the best way to spend a summer’s weekend.   Her favourite destination in Cowan Creek/Pittwater are Jerusalem Bay and Waratah Bay - both beautiful bays where you can go ashore and explore, or just kick back in the sun with a good book, and a chilled glass of wine. “Oh, the serenity” LOL.

Contact Michelle: michelle@empiremarinas.com.au