New Cape boat builder says marine manufacturing runs in the family

We don’t know much about the Swanepoels, except this: they like to build things.

Oupa Swanepoel built fibreglass fishing trawlers; Dad Swanepoel builds roads; and Henry Swanepoel has introduced himself to the local boatbuilding industry with a new-look offshore recreational fishing boat called the Invicta.

By now we also know that the Swanepoels have big plans for their Invicta design, which has been years in the making. Speaking to SABBEX at the boatica Show, Henry said he hoped to bring a new approach to boat design, just like his grandfather did two generations ago. With a helping (investor) hand from his father, Henry believes he is poised for success with a “more scientific” stepped-hull power cat design inspired by the latest computer simulations.  “That is kind of where it started,” he said of the lengthy research phase which involved careful hydrodynamic tests.

The result is a new company, Maiden Voyage Industries, with the inaugural Invicta design likely to be the first of a broader range.

Henry says the Invicta started as a collaboration between himself and a friend /fellow student, dating back almost five years. Once armed with their design and some seed finance, they started building the plugs and moulds, but had to recalibrate their timelines during the pandemic. Hull number one was only launched a few days before the Boat Show.

The vessel specs are as follows:  Length: 9m (29.5ft); beam 3.6m; dry weight 3800kg; fuel capacity 580 litres; power capacity Min HP 300HP

The company website includes a brief summary of the family boatbuilding history: “According to a newspaper article written in the 1960’s, Maritime industries, which was owned by Henry Swanepoel’s grandfather, had built the largest fiber-glass vessels in the world at the time, in Paarden Island, Cape Town, South Africa,” the website says.

Henry’s boatbuilding trajectory is rooted in a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Pretoria, followed by a stint working on superyachts.  He then obtained a Naval Architecture certificate from the Lloyds Maritime Academy. “He decided to return to South Africa to pursue a lifelong dream of designing and manufacturing sport-fishing vessels with the vision of developing a marine innovation technology company,” the website says.

Maiden Voyage Industries was founded in 2017.

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