Industry stakeholders say the Mother City is gearing up for success

Cape Town is well positioned to welcome a new generation of adventure-seeking superyacht owners, according to two prominent boating industry stakeholders.

The vote of confidence couldn’t come at a better time for Cape Town’s struggling hospitality sector, currently reeling from Omicron travel bans.  Both cruise ship and charter bookings in Cape Town have seen cancellations due to the current fourth wave, with impacts likely to be felt across the holiday season.

However future super yacht prospects should offer some relief, particularly in light of recently launched initiatives to promote a superyacht hub at the V&A Waterfront, an initiative supported by the City of Cape Town via BlueCape. Superyacht stakeholders say the timing is right for a new global superyacht destination – and Cape Town is the perfect fit. “The most critical factors that come into play if you are a yacht owner or captain making the decision where to base, repair or winter your yacht are safe mooring and an exciting location,” says Richard Masters, founder and director of Master Yachts in Palma de Mallorca.  “The V&A Waterfront is uniquely positioned in the centre of Cape Town, which ranks among the most beautiful cities in the world and is a tourist playground with enormous potential for adventure and experiences.  The combination of these factors – amongst others – makes a compelling argument for Cape Town to become a successful superyacht hub.”

Masters says the world-class tourist facilities and infrastructure more than compensate for the relative dearth of safe anchorage along the South African coastline. “While there isn’t much coastal cruising that would entice a superyacht to spend extended time in Cape Town, the vast array of activities and adventures available in and around Cape Town and the Western Cape, whilst moored in a very safe port is a great attraction for superyachts,” he explains.  “The excellent transportation hub with Cape Town International Airport provides an additional lure as it allows for easy change of crew, change of guides, and foreign contractors required for special equipment repairs and maintenance – all very important factors for the users of these yachts when making these decisions.”

The City is also increasingly attractive to the new breed of younger superyacht owners who are eager to spread their wings, particularly in light of the pandemic and associated lockdowns. “We are seeing younger owners, more ambitious adventurers and owners that want to experience a different part of the world after having their travel so drastically curtailed by the pandemic,” says Masters. “A superyacht provides a very secure and controlled environment which is a key priority for economic leaders and entrepreneurs. When combined with the huge improvements in global communications that permit 24/7 connection onshore or off, these permanently connected leaders are now able to travel to far-flung destinations that would have been impractical in the past.”

Masters believes Cape Town also punches above its weight in terms of boatbuilding, service and repairs, and has the added benefit of a respected maritime regulator (SAMSA) and rescue service (NSRI).  “In my experience, a lot of the superyachts are highly complicated machines that require specialist engineers who need easy access from abroad for their builders and specialists,” explains Masters. “Cape Town offers a strong support infrastructure providing a door-to-door service from both a transport and administration point of view which is a critical success factor.”

He says the current BlueCape service initiative could buy time “to plan and secure future investment which helps to position the City when future opportunities present themselves.”


Superyacht Training Academy stalwart Stuart Loxton says the industry is growing “an an alarming rate”.  He concurs with Masters regarding Cape Town being well-placed to profit from the buoyant market, particularly if additional investment in required services is forthcoming. “Cape Town is well positioned to offer all the required services but need investing in and the Waterfront has identified this and is working with the City and other stakeholders to make it happen — which is unprecedented,” says Loxton, who cited the example of Australia’s Gold Coast as evidence of what could be achieved locally.  “They (Gold Coast) have identified the need for attracting Superyachts to the Southern Hemisphere which has largely up until now been the preserve of the Med.”

“This is a billion dollar strategy on their part,” Loxton says.

Loxton sees the trend towards ‘thick-skinned’ explorer-style superyachts working to Cape Town’s advantage. Younger tech billionaires are also targeting superyachts and exotic superyacht destinations.

In addition to its service industry Cape Town now has a flourishing superyacht training hub which recruits top quality chefs, deckhands and stewardesses to work on superyachts, says Loxton.

“COVID has compromised International travel but before then 30% of all students were foreigners from all over the world. We work closely with crew houses and placement agents where the superyachts are to ensure we maintain our record of more than 90% conversion from training to placement.”

“Cape Town can most definitely become that hub of training excellence,” he concludes.

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