Good Lord! SA yacht made for Scottish nobleman is an international hit
Cape 31 racing yacht makes a splash at Cape Town boat show
A racing yacht built for a Scottish lord is now a global success story for a team of South African boat builders, who have built more than 50 of the same design.
The Cape 31 yacht is the star of the show at this year’s Boatica Cape Town boat show, which kicked off on Friday amid a buoyant season for local boatbuilding. Not only has the design prompted exports to all corners of the globe, but it promises huge growth potential as top international sailors join the ranks of Cape 31 admirers.
It is the first locally made class 1 high-performance racing yacht, produced by Cape Town yard Cape Performance Sailing.
The surge of Cape 31 exports, mostly to the UK, has made Cape Performance Sailing one of the busiest yards in the world over the past year for this class of boat.
Another Cape Town boat builder, Uwe Jaspersen, who died two years ago, produced the first 16 Cape 31 hulls, making the overall tally of boats built more than 70.
But the vessel would not have existed were it not for Scottish lord Irvine Laidlaw, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, who owns a home in Noordhoek. Laidlaw, now 80 with a lifetime of sailing experience, roped in some of South Africa’s top boatbuilders and designers to come up with a new concept racing yacht.
The tooling for the first yacht was made in the US and shipped to South Africa to be completed, and masts were supplied by a local mast manufacturer.
Fast-forward seven years and a new build team expects to launch 25 Cape 31s this year alone.
“A key highlight of the Cape 31 lies in its global transportability, meeting the standard high-cube container specifications, facilitating easy access and transport across different regions,” the project team in a statement this week at the start of Boatica Cape Town.
The racing yacht is not the only success story to showcase at this year’s boat show. Another Cape Town yard, Cape Racing Yachts, unveiled the high-performance yacht Evo 18 S, which also looks set for offshore success.
The South African boatbuilding sector makes an annual contribution to the country’s GDP of R3.2bn and directly employs about 3,700 people. The sector’s annual growth rate is 17%.
Speaking at the opening of the show on Friday, the city’s head of economic development James Vos said the sector was “a story of excellence, craftsmanship and the will to succeed.
“We want people to choose Cape Town for our talent, our craftsmanship, and our technology .,. not merely our beautiful landscapes.”
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