South African catamaran producer The Knysna Yacht Company has announced a new 55ft design aimed primarily at the charter market, owner Kevin Fouché told IBI.

Fouché said work on the moulds for the Knysna 550 project is due to start next week, with a launch date in early 2019. The boat was designed by Anton du Toit who works extensively with several top local yards, including Two Oceans and Nexus Yachts.

Fouché said the 550 was geared towards the luxury charter market, possibly starting in the Caribbean or the Seychelles. “What we've seen is definitely a move to bigger boats. I sensed that at the Miami show. It also makes sense from a from a business point of view – bigger boats mean a bigger margin on them,” Fouché said.

“I believe there's definitely a gap in the charter market, a need for a little bit more upmarket,” he said, adding that the design would hopefully also appeal to the private owner.

The design is 5ft longer than the company's flagship Knysna 500 SE model, would require at least two crew on board, and would retail for around $1.45m. “She can have a 'four cabin plus crew' layout – the 500 doesn't allow for that,” Fouché said, adding that he had brought on board an additional investor to fund the project.

He said the company planned to approach smaller upmarket charter companies, some of whom may benefit from the larger charter companies entering a lengthy rebuilding phase in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The new boat will be available in either a sailing or power version, offering 'boutique customisation and intricate features'.