Archive for December, 2009

Local Boatbuilder Scoops 2 BOTY Awards

December 18, 2009

Cruising World magazine in the US has announced the winners of its 2010 Boat of the Year (BOTY) awards, and we at SABBEX would like to congratulate one of our long standing members, Robertson & Caine, for coming up trumps in two categories.

Robertson and Caine’s Leopard 38 picked up 2 awards issued by an independent panel of experts who inspected and tested 18 nominated boats following the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, earlier this year. The Leopard 38 was named the Best Multihull Cruiser as well as the Import of the Year.

The judges  liked the wide sterns that require only one step up to get into the cockpit area as well as the elegantly simple electric-powered retractable davits. They also liked that the boat was well equipped for offshore sailing and that the cat had come from South Africa on its hulls.

The judges were additionally impressed with the Leopard’s accommodation plan, which seamlessly flows from cockpit to saloon. The saloon, with its wraparound windows and large settee, is comfortable as it is, but when the glass companionway door and the large window by the galley are opened, the cockpit truly becomes part of the living space.

These awards are highly prestigious, and a welcome endorsement of the South African Boatbuilding Industry, especially in difficult economic times. May our industry progress from strength to strength in 2010! Happy Holidays!


Boatbuilders Invited To Consuly On ISO Standards Development

December 11, 2009

Boatbuilders invited to consult on ISO standards development
Courtesy IBI Magazine

ICOMIA (International Council of Marine Industry Associations) is looking to increase boatbuilder input in the development of ISO standards.

It says that ISO working groups are in need of technical validation for the standards at its draft stages in order to best influence the final text, which cannot be easily amended once published.

In an effort to improve communication between the boatbuilders and ISO working groups, ICOMIA has set up a new website where the draft standards can be studied and discussed. It will begin with the consultation of the revised stability standards.

Andrew Blyth, convenor of the ISO (Stability) standards working group, explains the kind of information he needs: “As well as submitting comments, boatbuilders are invited to apply the draft requirements to their own existing designs and then submit feedback to us on whether their boats attain the appropriate design category.”

Builders can access the draft standards by emailing They will then be given a username and password, and links to the documents.

CTBi to represent ABYC education in South Africa

December 3, 2009

ABYC and CTBi partner to provide a win-win-win for African boatbuilding industry

November 30, 2009, Annapolis, MD: ABYC and the Cape Town Boatbuilding and Technology Initiative (CTBi), Cape Town, South Africa, have partnered under a five year agreement to have CTBi represent ABYC’s education, training and technical workforce certifications interests on the African continent.

According to a recently signed agreement, CTBi will incorporate ABYC’s post secondary school curriculum into their marine technical educational post secondary program primarily to better serve the South African recreational marine industry. CTBi will provide a cadre of ABYC certified instructors and provide properly equipped training facilities. ABYC will supply its standards; standards based curriculum, lesson plans, study guides and texts. Additionally, CTBi will represent ABYC in Africa and use ABYC materials in all technical workforce seminars and conferences, as well as conduct ABYC certification classes and certification testing for the entire marine industry within South Africa, and at their discretion, throughout the African continent. ABYC will continue to process and award all technical workforce certifications and recertifications from its international headquarters in Annapolis, Maryland.

“Many South Africa boat and marine products manufacturers are members of ABYC and regularly use our standards. Prior to this agreement ABYC instructors had to travel to South Africa to conduct training classes and certification testing, which proved to be very expensive for both ABYC and the students, said ABYC’s President, Skip Burdon. “So, we are particularly delighted to have reached this agreement to have CTBI represent us and provide ABYC approved technical workforce education, training and certification testing close to our African membership,” he concluded.

Mike New, ABYC’s Education Director said, “We have worked with CTBi for several years and have developed a very successful relationship with them. We are excited to develop this new working model with CTBi and to see ABYC standards serve the marine industry in this part of the world.” concluded New.

CTBi Chief Executive Officer Veda Raubenheimer, said “CTBi is very excited to team up with ABYC to deliver relevant, affordable and quality training to our industry. The ABYC course material is extremely well drafted and thoroughly researched, enabling us to equip our future boat builders with the knowledge needed to contribute to sector growth. We look forward to rolling out the ABYC training in January 2010.”

ABYC offers technical training courses that progress from basic to advanced, and includes eight marine industry workforce certifications for marine technicians and professionals. Currently, ABYC has been developing, writing and updating the safety standards for boatbuilding and repair in the United States for 55 years. ABYC is actively involved with the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) as well as certification programs for marine technicians. These standards are available on CD-ROM and in printed form.

Membership and general information can be requested by calling +1 410 990-4460 or by visiting the ABYC web site at To learn more about how your non-profit organization can become an ABYC education, training and certification testing international representative, contact ABYC’s Educational Ser vices Director at +1 410-990-4460 or

The Cape Town Boatbuilding and Technology Initiative (CTBi) is a membership, non-profit entity funded by the City of Cape Town local government and Western Cape Provincial Government Directorates of Economic & Tourism Development, South Africa. CTBi serves as a facilitator between various spheres of the boatbuilding industry including those of manufacturing, exporting and labour training. As well as functioning as a communications hub within the industry, CTBi also fulfills the role of a conduit between the industry and the public sector. Having tackled numerous issues with local and provincial government, CTBi constantly strives to identify and address key challenges that potentially restrict growth and development of the industry. The initiative also identifies new markets and products for the boatbuilding industry and assists in developing a proper regulatory and legislative environment.

CTBi is the voice of South African boatbuilding industry interests around the globe. As such, the CTBi board also discusses changes in and makes change recommendations to the small craft ISO standards and offers constructive written comments to recommended changes in ABYC standards. CTBi is also pivotal in providing the South African marine industry technical workforce with quality education, training and certification opportunities.

December 1, 2009

BA offering travel incentives for small business owners
Courtesy Engineering News


International airline operator British Airways (BA) would give fifty small to medium-sized South African businesses ten tickets each to use for travelling around the globe in 2010, BA commercial manager Sue Botes said on Tuesday.

The business-class tickets could be used to travel to any destination serviced by the airline.

BA hoped the R29-million initiative would provide smaller South African businesses with new international opportunities and would help to reinvigorate business travel. Internationally, business travel budgets have declined by 56%, Botes said at a briefing in Johannesburg.

Registered small to medium-sized enterprises in South Africa employing 250 people or less could apply through the BA website until February 19, 2010. Companies applying for the tickets must outline their business objectives for 2010 and 2011 and must also explain how being granted the tickets would benefit the company.

The tickets are part of the airline’s Club World business-class package that includes a lie-flat bed and lounges.

BA has launched similar initiatives in India, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, the UK and the US, all aimed at small to medium-sized businesses and with the goal of stimulating global business travel.

The initiative comes after a study by the Harvard Business review on behalf of BA revealed that 95% of business people believed face-to-face meetings are key to establishing and maintaining long-term relationships. Many executives call this the “high impact of ‘in-person’ communication”, Botes said.

The study, based on interviews with senior management and executive participants in North America, Asia and Europe, revealed that 79% of those interviewed see “in-person” meetings as a “highly efficient way to meet new clients to sell business”.

The aim of the initiative was to help small and medium-sized enterprises by focusing on “tangible human connections as a crucial driver to the business growth”.

Retired Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig said: “In the early days of Vodacom, I remember that in getting my budget approved, I would fly to London in the evening, meet with the CEO of Vodafone for half an hour and fly back. That was the most productive bit of time that we spent.

“I remember in later years trying to get a budget approved would be a process taking three to four months of correspondence back and forth and getting nowhere. The face-to-face approach to business is unquestionably the best thing to do.”

He continued: “It is always a surprise to me that when economies have a downturn the first thing people want to do is cut costs. If you have to cut costs in your business you probably weren’t running it properly in the first place.

“When there is a downturn in economies, especially for small companies, that’s the time that opportunities arrive. So that is the time you really want to get out there, get new business and cut a new piece of market share for yourself. I’ve never found that you can do those things unless you do them face to face.”

The Harvard study showed that 93% of respondents viewed face-to-face meetings as helpful when negotiating with business people from different language or cultural backgrounds.

One Indian executive respondent to the study said that communicating with his Chinese partners was enough of a challenge and it was very difficult to explain a difference in perspective without body language.

An unnamed respondent quoted in the study said that face-to-face meetings had sped up alignment and decision making.

In an economic downturn reducing face-to-face contact might be a short-term solution to budgetary problems but the consequences might be felt financially and symbolically in the long-term. If this meant a loss of current or new business opportunities, it was something businesses could ill-afford, Botes said.

“There is an understanding in the current [economic] environment that we’ve had to pull back [on] travel. But as the economy improves, we will start to see damage to the business if we are not out there. The bottom line is: when I’m with clients less, I’m bringing in less revenue,” an executive told the Harvard business review study.

December 1, 2009

Keeping the Faith: Dammrich keynote at METS
Courtesy of IBI Magazine

Flu may have claimed a victim in the form of original keynote speaker managing director of Hanse Yachts, Michael Schmidt, but it was the economic chill the industry was suffering from that was the subject for his replacement, ICOMIA and NMMA president Thom Dammrich, when he addressed delegates at the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) on Tuesday in the show’s customary Breakfast Briefing. With the strap line ‘Keeping Things in Perspective’ Dammrich gave a brief account of where the US marine market currently finds itself and why there are reasons for optimism.

Recognising the symptoms that plunged the US marine market into crisis ― the drying up of credit at retail and wholesale levels, a slump in house prices, rising new boat costs and unemployment ― the ICOMIA president claimed that there was now evidence that consumer confidence was beginning to return on the back of US GDP growth in the third and fourth quarters of the year. US marine retail sales hit $33.6bn in 2008, though Dammrich admitted that was likely to drop below $30bn for 2009.

“Over the last 40 years we’ve experienced six peaks and five valleys [in consumer confidence], with the timescale from peak to valley being on average 30 months. In October we were in the 27th month of declining consumer confidence. We predict that in three, four or five months we’ll see consumer confidence turn around.”

Dammrich told the packed auditorium that the first signs of recovery in the US housing market as well as an increase in new car sales and an upturn in the Recreational Vehicle (RV) market ― traditionally a sound barometer for future new boat sales — were all helping the marine market gain traction.

“We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Manufacturers are building new boats and ordering product from suppliers,” said the NMMA president.

According to Dammrich, the US market sold 208,000 new boats in 2008 compared to highs in the 1970s and 1980s of approximately 400,000 units a year. For 2009 boat production will slump to 135,000 units, a figure Dammrich predicts will be remain similar for 2010. However there is a silver lining: “In 2009 the industry only produced 52,000 boats despite selling 135,000. Therefore for 2010 we’re expecting production to more closely match retail sales. That will feel very good for a lot of people,” he added. Other positives for the US marine industry included seeing an 11-fold increase in exports to the Middle East and a 13-fold increase in exports to East Europe over the past six years.

For the future, Dammrich warned that new business models would have to be adopted if the industry was to flourish: “We will have to learn how to build to supply the market through March to September… we’ll have to build to order, but in volume… dealers will have to carry smaller inventories and have more equity in their businesses,” he said, adding that financing would remain an issue for the foreseeable future, and that there would inevitably be fewer boat shows in the US going forward, but those that remained would be healthier and stronger.

Dammrich warned however that new boats would inevitably cost more as manufacturers were required to continuously upgrade product in a bid to meet ever-stringent ‘green’ targets. He noted that catalytic converters now required on new boat models could push prices up by as much as $3,000 per boat, a fact that would inevitably dampen consumer demand. Boatbuilders needed to seek paths to producing more affordable boats: “We may see boats being built that don’t have add on features,” he told the audience, “basic boats that people can add features to. Do we really need three flat screens onboard for instance?”

The NMMA president also noted that despite increasingly tough environmental legislation that the industry needed to shout louder about its ‘green’ credentials, stating that boating was already a “fairly green” activity with boaters some of the most environmentally conscious of all consumers. In summing up Dammrich alluded to novelist Mark Twain, saying that news of the untimely demise of the marine industry had been “greatly exaggerated” and though it would be a challenging year ahead, the industry had a very bright long-term future.