Fairline Yachts views South Africa's robust boatbuilding sector as a useful springboard into the African market, according to company head of business development Karl Gilding.

Speaking to IBI at the Cape Town International Boat Show, Gilding described South Africa as a key southern hemisphere market with promising potential.

“The South African market is increasing,” he said. “It is more of a slow-burn than something that is rapidly changing overnight. From South Africa we are able to support sales up into Malawi and Angola.”

Gilding was a guest of Boating World, Fairline’s South African distributor. He said South Africa had other competitive advantages in the marketplace such as all-year-round boating and a proud maritime history. The country also served as a regional hub for other countries seeking a stable trade infrastructure, he said.

In a first for the Cape Town show, Fairline and Boating World this year introduced a virtual reality system to allow show visitors a close-up view of their latest boats, such as the Targa 63.  Said Gilding: “Virtual reality is a fantastic way of showing people of what is coming up in the future. You can get inside the boat. Some people get a little bit seasick because it is so real.

“It really gives people the ability to get inside and explore new boats,” he said.

Gilding said Fairline was developing products “at both ends of the market” ahead of anticipated growth. In September the company announced plans to take over a UK facility, and had now concluded the deal, he said.