Memorable evening highlights world class contributions to boat building

Memorable evening highlights world class contributions to boat building

Boat builders honoured in annual awards

SOUTH AFRICA: With just under 100 nominations, the annual South African Boat Builders Export Council (SABBEX) awards were hotly contested this year as the industry sought to celebrate the achievements of both individuals as well as companies within the sector.

Speaking at the function, Alderman James Vos – a long-time champion of Cape Town’s boat building economy – noted the shared goal to become the number one boat building country in the world.

“I have had the privilege of working alongside this incredible sector, focusing on boosting skills development and productivity. Our shared goal is to secure the number one spot for boat building in the world, achieving an impressive milestone of exporting one catamaran for every workday of the year,” he told guests adding that he was committed to maximising the sector’s potential for the benefit of the country.

“The boat-building industry is not just about creating vessels; it's about creating opportunities. Opportunities for skilled employment, innovative business ventures, and sustainable economic growth. We are charting a course to build more, export more, and train more. This isn't just about numbers; it's about transforming lives.”

“The boat-building industry is not just about creating vessels; it's about creating opportunities. Opportunities for skilled employment, innovative business ventures, and sustainable economic growth. We are charting a course to build more, export more, and train more. This isn't just about numbers; it's about transforming lives,” he said.

“Together, we are not just building boats; we are building a legacy for Cape Town and positioning ourselves as leaders in the global maritime economy.”

Abundant talent across ten categories

“There are so many worthy nominees that it almost seems a shame to have to choose winners,” said Vanessa Davidson acknowledging the calibre of talent that the judges had to make decisions about. The judging panel included Tich Mitchell, Warren Fraser, Andre Blaine, Pete Shaw, Craig Garrow, Bruce Tedder and Thina Qutywa.

  1. SERVICE EXCELLENCE: Kirby Arendse of Manex and Power Marine
  2. MARKETING & PROMOTION: Kirsten Veenstra of Two Oceans Marine Manufacturing
  3. COMPONENT CHAMPIONS: Sakhumzi Lindani of Fused Composite Design
  4. SKILLS DEVELOPMENT: Lucille Hills of Ullman Sails
  5. PRODUCT INNOVATION: Yann Dabbadie of Southern Wind Shipyard
  6. DESIGN EXCELLENCE: Sean van Rensburg, Du Toit Yacht Design
  7. WOMEN IN MARITIME EXCELLENCE: Vivian Ferreira of Central Boating
  8. YOUTH RISING STAR: Nicholas Hlatshwayo of Robertson and Caine
  9. HERO LEADERS: Kay Oldenburg of Voyage Yachts
  10. LEGEND OF THE SEA: Johnathan Paarman of Nexus Yachts

A number of “special mentions” were also awarded in certain categories where the judging panel sought to acknowledge several of the nominees who stood out. These included:

  • SERVICE EXCELLENCE: Roger Paarman of Nexus Yachts
  • MARKETING & PROMOTION: Willem Botha of Fused Composite Design
  • MARKETING & PROMOTION: Terrence Jonkers of Hammer Yachts
  • DESIGN EXCELLENCE: Anthony Key of Robertson and Caine
  • WOMEN IN MARITIME EXCELLENCE: Marista van Zyl of Voyage Yachts
  • YOUTH RISING STAR: Rachel England of Ullman Sails
  • YOUTH RISING STAR: Stuart Forrest of Robertson and Caine
  • YOUTH RISING STAR: Ismael Saunder of Robertson and Caine
  • LEGEND OF THE SEA: Peter Dean of Two Oceans Marine Manufacturing

Recognising exceptional commitment

Chairman of SABBEX, Bruce Tedder, also had the opportunity to present the prestigious Chairman’s Award. The award honours those who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and passion for the South African boating industry and celebrates their positive contributions in advancing the industry, setting new standards and inspiring future generations.

“They are local heroes who have shown commitment and dedication to help us grow our sector into the global powerhouse that it is now,” said Tedder who announced that the three recipients for 2024.

Mike Giles: Springbok and Americas Cup Sailor

Apart from being respected worldwide as a talented and experienced crew boss, project manager, boat captain, Giles has shown unwavering belief and commitment to the local boatbuilding sector. He was instrumental in seeing the Gunboat facility being established in Cape Town that saw new investment and technology being transferred into the industry for high-speed performance sailing catamarans.

More recently he was again a major driving force in getting the Cape 31 project brought to Cape Town with seed funding from Lord Irving Laidlaw. And in between he has had many project management roles at some of our local builders, big boat builds, helping new owners to build their dream boat. Mentoring, teaching, advising. Delivering projects on time and on budget.

Mike Daries: Kult Creative

Daries is the creative talent behind iconic branding and designs in the boating sector including those of the Robben Island Ferries as well as the Cape of Good Hope ferry that ran from Simon’s Town to Cape Point and Seal Island in False Bay. He began working with SABBEX some 23 years ago designing the first logo and branding for the organisation. Since then, he has worked on many boatbuilders guides and membership decals. He has also been involved in the conceptualisation of award-winning boat show stands for SABBEX at La Rochelle and Miami.

David Abromowitz: Abromowitz, Sharp and Associates

Described as the godfather of leisure boating in South Africa, Abromowitz is an integral and crucial element within the sector who has been instrumental in elevating local boat building to world class standards. He has been involved in a number of businesses and leveraged his networking skills to propel the yachting sector forward over more than five decades. Still an active sailor, Abromowitz has served on various sailing committees and as a past commodore of the Royal Cape Yacht Club as well as the NSRI.

“He has been devoting the past 55 plus years of his life actively developing and encouraging many of us in the room tonight to aim higher, dream bigger and make things happen,” noted Tedder as he handed over the last award of the evening.



One of the highlights of the awards dinner must include the often-hilarious keynote address delivered by David Abromowitz who had guests LOL’ing as he recounted his journey from reluctant pharmacist to revered legend in the yachting sector. His dry humour set the tone for a memorable evening as he guided everyone across a career that spans more than five decades of anecdotes and self-confessed embellishments.

MAIN PHOTO: Bruce Tedder, Vanessa Davidson and Thina Qutywa of SABBEX


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