Harken Derm

South Africa Benefiting from Marine Industry

Published on November 23rd, 2016

The growth of the yachting industry in South African has led the marine sector to become a steady contributor to the country’s economy. Vanessa Davidson, CEO of the Marine Industry Association of South Africa, said “a recent study identified that for every R1m investment in marine manufacturing there is a multiplier effect of R2.77m”.

”The boat building industry is estimated at R1.5billion per annum contribution to GDP, with 95% of product being exported,” she said. “Our global niche advantage is catamarans and our ability to do high-end customization. We also produce aluminum sailing boats and aluminum commercial craft. We are world leaders in mast building and sail making.

“We are starting to see larger catamarans being produced in South Africa, making us one of five countries in the world working in this space. Some yards focus on high performance boats and we have recently seen investment into a new racing monohull.”

Rob Sharp, managing director of David Abromowitz & Associates yacht brokers, said: “We build quality boats here and South African yards are held in high regard. At overseas boat shows the boats presented are accepted with praise and admiration. The days of SA boats being frowned upon are gone, as have the dodgy yards!

“The South African Yachting Industry is currently very buoyant and especially so in the export of yachts, and more specifically catamarans, both sail and power. The biggest player in the SA boat building field is Robertson and Caine, who build close to 200 boats annually and export close to 100% of these craft.

“The focus of the boat building industry is in the Western Cape (12 yards concentrating on catamarans and two yards building monohull sailing yachts) with a smaller hub located in Cape St Francis (three yards building catamarans) and Knysna (also three yards building catamarans).

“There are two major sail makers in the country, both located in the Western Cape, North Sails and Ullman Sails. Both sail lofts build sails for the local market and have large order books servicing the overseas market, mainly due to our exchange rate making it attractive for offshore buyers.”

Sharp added that mast maker Southern Spars is a foreign-owned company run by local operators: “Again, they serve both the local and foreign markets and are considered to be amongst the best in the world for craftsmanship, technical expertise and the finished product both for cruising boats and world leader race boats.”

He pointed out that sailing events in the Western Cape, and in particular Cape Town, were popular and growing in stature amongst the local sailors.

“Events like the Maserati Cape Town Race Week are gaining traction and this year will see the Cape2Rio race with a broad base of international entries making the event a truly international one. Companies such as Maserati coming on board as major sponsors is extremely encouraging and their investment in the sport will see a natural growth in numbers for the year end event and the Cape2Rio.”

Source: Judy McGregor, tenfour

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