‘The Best There Is’ says Richard’s Bay Builder
At a time when some boat builders are running for the hills, Dylan Banwell has stormed onto the local production scene with a promise to build South Africa’s best ever catamaran.
“We’ve concluded that none of the catamarans currently on the market are ideally suited to today’s voyagers — they are flashy, glitzy and fashionable, but lacking the ideal balance of performance, comfort, quality and practical seamanlike features required by serious sailors,” Banwell says in a statement released to mark the launch of Kaos Catamarans earlier this month.
Fighting talk indeed from somebody yet to deliver his first Kaos hull, but the Richard’s Bay local is no industry upstart. His company DB Marine is already well entrenched in the ski-boat market, having purchased Z-Craft Marine. While eager to build on Z-Craft’s success, he believes he can go one better and challenge for a share of South Africa’s catamaran market. To do so he intends to focus on quality workmanship, an ambition he says was born out of frustration with sub-standard boats while sailing. “Fundamentally, our (Kaos) catamarans are designed and built to withstand the worst weather nature can dish out,” he says.
Banwell’s credentials include a BSc in Yacht Manufacturing from Southampton Solent University and a stint as Rear Sailing Commodore of Zululand Yacht Club (2015-2017). He is a SA Sailing SAMSA surveyor and has chalked up more than 45 000 nautical miles of sailing experience. No doubt he will need plenty chutzpah to navigate the highly competitive cruising and charter catamaran market that has witnessed a few recent casualties.
But Banwell, who has teamed up Hayden Hegter to manage production, is brimming with confidence. In a recent interview with GoFish magazine he said: “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. We match the correct laminate with the specified cores to ensure we have a product built to last.”