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South Africa, one of the biggest markets for cruising catamarans


south_africa_catamaransSouth Africa’s catamaran production is considered a key sector to revive South African manufacturing and enhance economic recovery. South Africa manufactures 30 percent of the world’s cruising catamarans, and it is second only to France: most of such catamarans are made at family shops by artisan builders. President Jacob Zuma led a South African trade mission to France (July 11-12), where he promoted ship building among other exports.
Tim Murphy, editor of U.S.-based Cruising World, after a trip to Cape Town to meet South African boat builders, said he found a unique blend of business conditions in South Africa that contribute to the industry’s success, and “some of the lightest, stiffest, highest-­tech sailboat structures available anywhere in the world.” According to Murphy, three aspects shape any business environment: labor markets, government regulation, and procurement of materials and components. The big-ticket items are components and equipment from abroad.
The materials suppliers, sail makers, riggers and boatyard crews are located in the industrial areas of Woodstock, Montague Gardens and Atlantis, close to Cape Town. Other boat building areas are farther east, past Cape Agulhas and along the Garden Route and Eastern Cape coastlines, especially St. Francis Bay and Knysna.
Robertson and Caine, South Africa’s largest boat-builder, will build 175 boats this year at four different facilities near Cape Town, mainly for the export market.
South African boat builders are working to develop the necessary trade skills among potential employees. Trade groups like the South African Boat Builders ­Export Council and Marine Industry Association South Africa collaborate with False Bay College on a three-year yacht and boat-building program that combines classroom work with apprentice­ships.