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Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio invests in submarines for the ultra-rich

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Ray Dalio and Hollywood film-maker James Cameron have bought an equity stake in a submarine maker that allows the ultra-wealthy yachting class to explore the remotest parts of the planet.

The billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, is now part-owner of Triton Submarines, a Florida-based company that specialises in submersibles for the super-rich.

“If you’re just going on a yacht in some fancy place, that’s one thing,” Dalio told the Financial Times. “If instead you’re on a yacht and you can go down and explore, first of all the trip is going to be better and also it encourages exploration.”

Dalio declined to disclose the financial details behind the deal but said the company was now owned by himself, Cameron and Triton co-founder Patrick Lahey.

Triton was founded in 2007 by Lahey and Bruce Jones to manufacture submersibles for yacht owners. The prices for their vessels vary, starting at about $2.5mn and going up to $40mn. Their models range in capacity from one to 66 people, with the ability to dive from between 100 metres to full ocean depth.

“There’s been a seismic shift in yachting,” Lahey said. “Yachts aren’t all about opulence and, you know, sipping gin and tonics on the fantail. They’re about where these craft can take us. And the experiences you can have with them. And that’s why submersibles become the thing to have.”

Triton, which was used by David Attenborough in the filming of the second series of Blue Planet to dive into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, said it produced about four or five vehicles per year and there was a waiting list for their submersibles.

Dalio announced in October that he had given up control of Bridgewater, the hedge fund he founded in 1975, putting an end to a drawn-out transition of power. He remains a presence at the firm as an investor, board member and mentor.

The 73 year old, who himself owns four submarines, has long been an advocate for ocean exploration. Inspired by the adventures of French marine explorer Jacques Cousteau, Dalio has spent millions of dollars on the OceanXplorer, a high-tech vessel tailored for scientific research and documenting the ocean.

Cameron, who is best known for directing films such as Titanic and Avatar, is an executive producer of a forthcoming ocean exploration show by National Geographic and Disney that was filmed aboard the OceanXplorer.

Dalio appears to be bucking the trend of businessmen such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, who have embarked in what has been dubbed the billionaire space race.

“Ocean exploration seems to me much more exciting and important than space exploration,” he said. “You’re not going to see any aliens in outer space but you will see aliens underneath.”

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