Celebrating innovation and excellence in boat building
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Celebrating innovation and excellence in boat building

Legends and Trailblazers in the boat building sector

SOUTH AFRICA, Cape Town: Last night industry stakeholders and representatives from local as well as national government celebrated innovation and excellence in the leisure boat building sector at an event hosted by the South African Boat Builders Export Council (SABBEX).

More than 200 guests converged at SABBEX’s Legends and Trailblazers event that aimed to honour those that have been instrumental in helping to elevate South Africa’s status in the leisure boat and yacht market, where Cape Town ranks as the second largest builder of catamarans in the world.

Speaking at the event, Alderman James Voss, the City’s Executive Head of Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, reiterated the City of Cape Town’s intention to support further growth in the sector and consolidate the city’s reputation as the boat building destination in the country.

“We will be exploring more opportunities in the boat building sector to position ourselves as global leaders,” he told guests.

Wesgro’s CEO, Tim Harris, was also enthusiastic about the potential of the sector for the region, highlighting that the export of catamarans in 2018 had delivered R32billion in export revenue. Acknowledging the award winners on the night, he however emphasised that the success of the sector importantly contributed to the stability of employment of those at the shipyards as well as the potential of new jobs for the region.

But the event was about honouring those in the sector who have achieved excellence to help boost the country’s reputation on the world stage – and on whose legacy the sector can leverage further growth.

According to SABBEX’s Vanessa Davidson, the industry body received a wealth of quality nominations for both the Legends and Trailblazer award categories and it was a challenge to narrow it down to only a handful of winners in each.

On hand to present the awards, Dumisani Ntuli, acting DDG Maritime Transport within the Department of Transport, helped validate the importance of the sector to national government.

Walking away as Legends on the night were:

  • Jeff Stevens of Gemini
  • Fuad Jacobs of Jacobs Bros
  • Tich Mitchell of Sparcraft Masts
  • Duncan Lethbridge of St Francis Catamarans
  • John Robertson of Robertson and Caine

Trailblazers in the industry were identified as:

  • Alex Simonis of Simonis Voogd Yacht Designers
  • Anton du Toit of Du Toit Yacht Designs
  • Greg Walters of Gaw Marine
  • Mark Delany of 2 Oceans Manufacturing
  • Carl Martin of Draco Sailing Hardware

And just as the applause was beginning to die down, Davidson announced a surprise addition to the list by calling on Bruce Tedder, the Chairman of the SABBEX board who was given deserved recognition for his dedicated work to promote South Africa’s reputation via the SABBEX platform.

Adding flavour to the evening, internationally renowned sailor, Skip Novak provided the keynote address that highlighted his deep connections with the country and South Africans. He noted, however, that more investment in infrastructure to support the mooring and lay-up of yachts and superyachts in Cape Town would go a long way to attracting even more opportunities for the sector.

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