Kinetic Catamarans is a joint venture between a US entrepreneur and former Harvey Yachts manager

An American businessman and a veteran South African boatbuilder have teamed up to buy the assets of Knysna-based Harvey Yachts, with a view to entrenching themselves in the global high-performance catamaran market.

The new company, Kinetic Catamarans, is a joint venture between US entrepreneur Bob Hayward and former Harvey Yachts factory manager Leon Scheepers, who introduced themselves to the market at the Annapolis Boat Show. Hayward and Scheepers took over the assets of Harvey Yachts earlier this year and plan an initial build programme of three full carbon/epoxy infused semi-custom boats a year.

Kinetic are already off to a promising start with their flagship 62ft model earning a nomination for the 2019 Multihull of the Year. The team have already completed tooling for a new 54ft model, and believe they are well placed to benefit from South Africa’s reputation for robust high-performance leisure catamarans. “We build strong boats, it is recognised – people know that our ocean is not so friendly,” Scheepers said in an interview published this week by the South African Boat Builders Export Council (SABBEX).

The yard is based in picturesque Knysna, a tourist town that has also developed into a regional boatbuilding hub, home to the Knysna Yacht Company and Vision Yachts.

Harvey Yachts was founded by industry stalwart Phil Harvey, formerly with Gunboat.

Scheepers said Kinetic hoped to build on the success of its other prominent South African builders in the multihull space. “Robertson & Caine have been out there building charter boats for more than 20 years,” Scheepers told SABBEX. “Other builders like St Francis Marine have meant a lot to the local industry, adding credibility to SA brands. People also know that the DNA of Gunboat (initially built by Phil Harvey) comes from South Africa,” Scheepers said.

“For me it was pretty seamless having been the factory manager for two years. I have now taken on a lot more responsibility,” Scheepers said.

Hayward is a former Harvey Yachts client who decided to invest in the boatbuilding industry. “I can see a real opportunity and am giving the yard the capital backing to be world class,” he said in a recent magazine interview. “We’re competitive on pricing and I’m confident we’ll have a good order book. If you see a pathway to success in a sport and pastime you love, why not?”