South African specialist engineering firms are expanding into the boatbuilding sector on the back of offshore demand.

Firms that traditionally focused on commercial ship repair and the oil & gas sector now report increasing work in recreational boating as Cape Town continues to attract top-end vessels.

Cape Town-based Grandi Engineering told SABBEX it hoped to partner with an offshore agent to expand its footprint in the recreational space. The Company recently landed a commission to make 40 chairs for Aquijo, the world’s biggest ketch and a regular Cape Town visitor. Grandi is also now doing piecemeal work for top local yards, among them Robertson & Caine. It has also produced high-spec items for racing yachts such as yacht cleats.

“We can’t just gear ourselves to one industry,” said Grandi managing director Marco Grandi. “The boat industry and yacht industry is on an upward trajectory in Cape Town and in South Africa generally, which follows a worldwide trend. This creates upward demand.”

He said demand for mega-yachts and associated deck fittings created a potential gap in the market for local South African yards with production capacity at competitive prices. Recent technological advancement also allowed local yards to compete on an even footing with the rest of the world.  “The technology is very powerful. We now also have access to 7 axis machines here,” Grandi said.

Other companies moving into the recreational boating include Fused Composites and CNC Carbide Manufacturing, both Cape Town-based and both intent on growing their recreational footprint.

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