The fourth annual SABBEX awards saw industry stalwarts honoured at Kelvin Grove, with a memorable keynote address from boatbuilding ‘godfather’ David Abromowitz. As usual the top yards were well represented and made their presence felt with vocal support for their nominees, of which 95 were  received this year under the broad theme of ‘We Are the Champions’. Ten winners were announced by a judging panel consisted of Tich Mitchell, Warren Fraser, Andre Blaine, Pete Shaw, Craig Garrow, Bruce Tedder and Thina Qutywa. (GALLERY OF WINNERS BELOW)

Below is list of the categories and the winners:

1) Service Excellence: Kirby Arendse, Manex Marine & Power Marine
Kirby joined Manex in January 2018, stepping into the new role of Sales-OEM to ensure that customers received top-notch service and support for a critical sector of their business. Prior to joining Manex, Kirby excelled in her role at Southern Spars in Procurement Planning.

Kirby serves as the primary point of contact for all sales and support inquiries at Manex. With a professional demeanour and a helpful attitude, Kirby is incredibly easy to work with. Her communication is consistently clear and concise, and she ensures that customers are kept updated on their orders and estimated time of arrival (ETA).

Beyond her job description, Kirby goes above and beyond to assist customers, demonstrating her dedication to providing exceptional service and support.

Taking on the challenge of understanding customers’; needs and preferences, Kirby has adeptly navigated the task of delivering exactly what they require. Her ability to excel in this role demonstrates her exceptional skills and dedication. Kirby’s commitment to excellence sets her apart, making her an invaluable asset to our team.

2) Marketing and Promotion: Kirsten Veenstra

Kirsten brings a unique blend of passion, knowledge, and professionalism to the marketing landscape of our sector. Her love for sailing has not only driven her career but also fuelled her commitment to the local sailing community, where she has generously volunteered her time and expertise.

Over the past 12-13 years, Kirsten has played a pivotal role in shaping the marketing strategies of Two Oceans Marine Manufacturing. In addition to her contributions at Two Oceans Marine, Kirsten has also overseen marketing efforts for Two Oceans Marine’s esteemed design partner, Du Toit Yacht Design, since 2011, and Sparcraft Masts since 2019.

Kirsten Veenstra’s innovative marketing initiatives, unwavering dedication to the maritime and boatbuilding sectors, and her genuine passion for the industry are her calling card. Through her strategic approach and creative vision, Kirsten has significantly enhanced the visibility of her affiliated businesses.

3) Components: Sakhumzi Lindani, Fused Composite Design

Sakhi serves as the Fused Lamination Team Leader, where his exemplary leadership and gentle demeanour seamlessly align a team of 10 technicians. By leading through example, Sakhi inspires each team member to consistently deliver their best work on every project.

Under Sakhi’s guidance, the team has achieved remarkable cohesion and efficiency. Sakhi’s hands-on approach and deep understanding of the technical aspects of fused lamination ensure that the team maintains high standards of quality and precision.

Sakhi’s dedication to continuous improvement is evident in his commitment to training and mentoring his team. He takes the time to develop each technician’s skills, providing support and feedback to help them grow professionally. Sakhi’s influence extends beyond the technical realm; he is a source of inspiration and motivation, instilling a sense of pride and purpose in his team. His ability to balance authority with empathy makes him a respected and admired leader.

4) Skills Development and Training: Lucille Hills, Ullman Sails

Lucille has been with the company for 12 years and has served as the Production Manager of
the Finishing and Canvas Department for approximately 7 years. She is highly respected by her staff, efficiently managing her teams with a balance of authority, compassion, and support.

Lucille has successfully upskilled many young men by moving them into various training positions. She boasts the highest success rate in training and mentoring interns from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom have secured full-time employment at Ullman Sails.

Passionate about her work, Lucille prefers to be hands-on rather than confined to an office.
She also oversees packing and shipments, as well as the scheduling for drivers and fitment.
Lucille is a true inspiration to all her colleagues and staff, exemplifying dedication and excellence in her role.

5) Product Innovation: Yann Dabbadie, Southern Wind Shipyard

Yann has played a pivotal role in shaping the first high-voltage hybrid diesel-electric superyacht in the sub-110 foot class at Southern Wind Shipyard. Under Yann’s leadership, the SW96 yacht, originally engineered for traditional diesel propulsion, was re-engineered to accommodate a diesel-electric hybrid drive system. This resulted in the creation of SW96-04 Nyumba, featuring an IMO Tier III compliant propulsion system with remarkable energy density and power storage in a compact footprint.

This technical achievement has gained international recognition. Nyumba was awarded “Best Sailing Yacht under 500GT” at the 2023 International Superyacht Society Awards and received a special commendation at the 2024 Boat International Design and Innovation Awards for her innovative hybrid propulsion system.

Yann’s innovative approach has also positively impacted the yard commercially. This success was further confirmed by the sale of SW108-01 Gelliceaux, the first hull in the SW108 series, designed from the start for a hybrid drive system. Gelliceaux recently won her class and the prestigious overall Bucket Trophy at the 2024 St Barths Bucket Regatta, demonstrating her pedigree in highly competitive racing.

Yann’s leadership in pioneering hybrid superyacht innovation is exceptional.

6) Design Excellence: Sean van Rensburg, Du Toit Yacht Design

Sean joined Du Toit Yacht Design in February 2017 to combine his passion for sailing and engineering. Over the past seven years, his dedication and performance have made him a valuable asset to DTYD.

His technical skills, leadership qualities, and commitment to excellence have been instrumental in the success of numerous projects, including the M60, Liberty, Balance, Amavi, HopYacht, and Gemini.
Sean has consistently demonstrated exceptional ability in managing commercial aspects, fostering strong client relationships, and ensuring the successful completion of projects.

Throughout his tenure, he has upheld the professional and service standards that define DTYD.
We are thrilled to announce the promotion of Sean to the position of General Manager, Engineer & Designer, effective this month.

7) Woman in Maritime Excellence: Vivian Ferreira, Central Boating
Vivian worked at Engineering Supplies across the road until it closed down. When that happened, David Barnes asked their boss, ‘Who is your best worker?’ That’s how Vivian joined Central Boating.

Vivian started working in the warehouse in 1999 when Central Boating had a small store on Bree Street. She learned everything about boat parts and knows every product code in the store. She also knows everyone by their first names and nicknames. Vivian always has a big smile on her face when she sees customers in the warehouse or in our shop. She has come a long way and is now the Warehouse Manager at Central Boating.

In addition to her work, Vivian helps her community by running a soup kitchen for kids in need. She never turns anyone away and always tries to help those in need.

8) Youth Rising Star: Nicholus Hlatshwayo, Robertson and Caine

Since joining R&C, Nick has consistently demonstrated exceptional skill and dedication in the field of data analytics. His insights have been invaluable, driving significant improvements across our operations.
Here are some of the remarkable achievements he has spearheaded:
First, the Flammables Model. Nick successfully implemented this model, significantly reducing supply chain risk. His meticulous attention to detail ensured that our operations remained safe and efficient.

Next, the MRP Model Enhancement. Through Nick’s efforts, our MRP model has been enhanced, leading to better information flow to our suppliers, resulting in more accurate planning and inventory management.

Third, Enhanced Visibility of Orders. Nick’s work has greatly improved visibility into our orders with our main overseas partner. This increased transparency has facilitated smoother and more efficient operations.

And finally, the On-Time-In-Full Model. Nick played a pivotal role in developing this model, ensuring that inventory is available promptly to meet customer demand.

Nick’s contributions have been instrumental in driving our success. We are proud to have him as a part of the R&C team.

9) Hero Leaders. Kay Oldenburg, Voyage Yachts

Kay arrived on the shores of the Western Cape in 1991. Armed with a boatbuilder’s certificate, an unwavering commitment to quality, and an eye for aesthetics, he set out to build a life in Africa despite not speaking English. His journey began at Southern Wind Shipyard, where he contributed to building the Farr 70 ‘Blue Wing’. In those early days, he often relied on sign language when his broken English fell short.

Three years later, Kay moved to R&C to build two MUM 36 yachts. Voyage Yachts, then a fledgling startup, needed Kay’s expertise to lead the workshop, and he agreed to join.

Thirty years later, having embraced this title wholeheartedly, he has become indispensable in almost every aspect of the Voyage business, truly deserving of his unique title. Over the years, Kay has built an effective team and overseen numerous launches each crafted to near perfection for our ever-growing and loyal client base.

We value him as both a shareholder and a friend, and we are proud to be part of the Voyage Yachts family that Kay was instrumental in building.

10) Legend of the Sea:  Johnathan Paarman, Nexus Yachts

During the 1970s and 80s, Jonathan, famously known as ‘The Iceman’ and ‘The Fearless Wave Rider’, emerged as one of the world’s greatest power surfers. His exceptional surfing skills seamlessly transitioned into a passion for building surfboards and later, boats.

In 2000, Jonathan took charge of the factory floor at Voyage Yachts, collaborating with prominent figures like Uwe Jaspersen, Kay Oldenburg, and designers such as Alexander Simonis and Anthony Key.

After seven years at Voyage Yachts, Jonathan co-founded Nexus Yachts with his brother Roger, establishing a successful venture in St Francis. Under Jonathan’s leadership, Nexus Yachts has launched approximately 26 Balance 526 Catamarans, the award-winning 2021 Cruising World’s Boat of the Year, and has commenced production on the Balance 580 and 620 models. His influence on the boat-building industry is profound, shaped by his extensive experience in design and composites. His fusion of design acumen and composite knowledge has left an indelible mark on the industry.His achievements underscore his unwavering dedication to craftsmanship and exploration, inspiring countless enthusiasts and professionals alike.

This year also marked the introduction of a new award category, the Chairman’s Awards, to honour individuals not directly involved in boatbuilding but who’ve nevertheless made a significant contribution to the sector. The with three inaugural winners of this award were
Below is list of the categories and brief blurb about each of the winners Mike Giles, Michael Daries and David Abromowitz.

11) Chairman’s Awards
A) David Abromowitz.
Chairman’s comment: “ I am extremely proud to honour the person who was an integral and crucial element in our sector, getting us from ‘’backyard builders’’ to “absolute world class”. Devoting the past 55 plus years of his life actively developing and encouraging many of us in the room tonight to aim higher, dream bigger and make things happen.”

B) Mike Daries from Kult Creative
Chairman’s comment: “We met 28 years ago in his tiny cottage studio in Woodstock. He created all the design and branding for our Robben Island Ferries, MAKANA and AUTSHUMATO as well as for the CAPE of GOOD HOPE, the ferry that ran from Simonstown to Cape Point and Seal Island in False Bay. Then about 23 years ago he started working with SABBEX when SABBEX was founded by myself and Anders Aeroe from WESGRO.  As a graphic designer with his one-man studio he designed the first logo and
branding for SABBEX. Since then many Boatbuilders Guides, Membership decals, Boatshow stands at La Rochelle and Miami from start to finish, Awards and Accolade certificates. The most important person that none of you know!!! Under the radar like a stealth missile!!

Now that you will all soon meet him, use him, he is a national treasure!!! Kult Creative. An absolute champion who has done so much for our sector. I am also very proud to have him as a great friend.”

C) Mike Giles
Chairman’s Comment: “A Springbok sailor, Americas Cup sailor. Been there done that for 40 years. Hugely respected worldwide and talented and experienced as a Crew Boss, Project Manager, Boat Captain. BUT what really makes him a worthy recipient of a Chairmans Award this year is his unwavering belief and commitment to the SA Boatbuilding sector. He convinced American millionaire Peter Johnstone of J Boat fame to set up the GUNBOAT facility in Cape Town. Huge balls and belief in all of you in this room. They could have gone anywhere in the world to build GUNBOATS but they decided on Cape Town. I remember meeting with him and Peter Johnstone back then, must be 20 years ago with Zac de Beer who was pitching to build the Gunboats. They instead set up a brand new facility investing big bucks into our sector, building a new factory, bringing new build techniques, for light and super strong high speed performance sailing catamarans. More recently he was again a major driving force in getting the Cape 31 project brought to Cape Town with seed funding from his friend and sailing buddy, Lord Irving Laidlaw. And in between he has had many project management roles at some of our local builders, big boat builds, helping new owners to build their dream boat. Mentoring, teaching, advising. Delivering projects on time and on budget. Hundreds of millions of Rands of investment directed and driven to South Africa. A champion.
Mike Giles. We thank you.


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