by Richard Crockett
It’s not often that the local South African boat building industry has something to crow about, especially if they are building racing monohulls, yet Cape Performance Sailing is on a super-fast downwind plane with its sails crammed full of orders.
Having set up shop just 36 months ago, the yard headed by Davey James and Stephen du Toit, have just launched their 50th boat, and have Hull 57 in build right now. That’s impressive stuff as the first boat they built only left the factory in March 2021.
They build the Cape 31 monohull racing yacht which was designed by international designer of performance yachts, Mark Mills, of Ireland.
The concept for this yacht was conceived and initially funded by Lord Irvine Laidlaw to create an affordable and exciting new performance yacht for Cape waters. Once launched the Cape 31 soon blossomed into something top racing yachtsmen around the world desired – and wanted. It’s reputation as being slippery-fast and a great all-round performer, soon turned heads internationally. The fact that 73 boats have been built, 57 of them by Cape Performance Sailing, is testimony to their success and on-going ability to not compromise on quality in any way.
And that’s why today Cape Performance Sailing is building two boats a month which are shipped to destinations around the world after being carefully and innovatively packed in a container.
In the UK there is a healthy fleet which is racing highly competitively in the Solent, and which is being expanded with new boats regularly. There are boats in Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Poland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the USA.
The success of this operation today is attributable to just two men, both fine yachtsmen, and both perfectionists in ensuring that each and every boat is flawless when leaving the factory.
Davey James is a multiple Lipton Cup winning skipper and passionate sailor who heads the project, and handles the marketing.
Stephen du Toit has 37 years of boat building experience to his credit, and has exacting standards on which he will not compromise. His build team of 30 people launch a new Cape 31 every 14 working days.
Their shipyard near False Bay has a dedicated 500 square metre moulding facility, plus a 1400 square metre finishing facility.
All their materials and fittings are sourced via the local industry who have embraced the success of their project, and have worked closely with the team to ensure that this locally built South African racing yacht turns heads wherever it is seen in the world.
“I would really like to crack the American market” said Davey James. “We have boats scattered in different areas of that country, but no fleets yet which would turn heads and get people excited”. Should that market materialise, Cape Performance Sailing will be very busy for a very long time.
Not resting on their laurels is something both James and du Toit are acutely aware of, and have vowed to not fall into that trap. They have two irons in the fire to see them well into the future, although details are not yet ready to be revealed. However one of the projects is to produce a smaller and more affordable version of the Cape 31, specifically with the Lipton Challenge Cup in mind. The other is for a client in the Solent wanting to develop a production boat specifically for the Solent.