DB Marine In Expansion Mode

How many sea miles does it take to tire of sailing other people’s boats? About 45 000, according to Dylan Banwell, who is happy to be carving his own wake these days.

Richard’s Bay-born Banwell has teamed up with fellow sailing enthusiast Hayden Hegter to establish DB Marine as one of the country’s leading builders. Already their scope ranges from from 12ft fishing vessels to large sailing catamarans. If they have their way they will go larger than that.

The company has also acquired the moulds for the Admiral 50 sailing catamaran and has already received its first order for a modified power cat version.

But first things first says Banwell, who says the recent acquisition of Z Craft in March this year has focussed their attention on the ski-boat market, in particular the Kingcat range they inherited with the sale. Explains Banwell: “Now that Z Craft is on the cards we have decided to shelve immediate plans for our own designs to focus and boost the already popular Kingcat range. We have the added bonus of taking over the new Kingcat Sport range of deck upgrades which we shall implement later in the year once plugs and moulds are complete.”

Banwell has a BSc in Yacht Manufacturing from Solent University in the UK, and returned home in 2008 to start his own business. DB Marine Services started life as a chandlery service and marine consultancy, later moving on to refits and rebuilds. The business expanded quickly in the wake of Z Craft’s closure. Explains Banwell: I approached Hayden Hegter to join my business and make the move to a factory facility to cater for the ski-boat owners market locally since 2016 when Z craft closed its doors there was a huge demand for refits and repairs.”

Hegter says he and Banwell aim to build a company “that builds boats with passion and longevity”.

The duo’s sailing background has engendered a shared disdain for shoddy workmanship – something they hope to correct in their factory.  “Both myself and Hayden have spent enough years rebuilding boats that were inherently built with inferior materials from the start, which only leads to a headache down the line to know how a proper offshore fishing boat is meant to be built,” says Banwell. “With the availability of modern materials and build techniques we aim to build boats stronger, lighter and ultimately built to last!! We don’t build with any wood in our boats but opt for the higher specified composites and foam cores all of which are Lloyd’s approved for boat building.”

Hegter concurs that wood is unlikely to feature in their boat building plans: “After repairing boats for the last five years and learning from other boat builders shoddy workmanship and cheap materials Dylan and myself spoke about building boats that required little repair structurally,” says Hegter. “Both of us had dealt with rotten wood enough in our lives to decide and swear to never use wood in our boats.”


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