Clinton Johns has been on the water in a boat since the age of seven.

“Pretty much water is in my blood – excuse the pun – I’ve tried virtually every watercraft that there possibly is,” he says.

He will list them if you ask: from a surfboard to a windsurf, a paddle ski, a dinghy, large catamarans, and racing boats.

“One gets a gut-feel for these things – a love for boats. I bought this into fruition by making a world-class boat,” says the owner of Phoenix Marine in Atlantis, Cape Town.  

Clinton has owned and supplied polymers to the marine industry since 1986, but around 2014 he decided to build catamarans when he acquired the assets of a legacy boatyard in Atlantis.

Four years later Phoenix Marine is building award-winning bespoke yachts for clients in the United States of America, the Caribean and Mediterian markets.

This year, Phoenix Marine together with Xquisite Yachts are debuting their new South African power catamaran at the Miami International Boat Show.

The 17m Xquisite 56 Power Cat is the ultimate luxury cruising catamaran.

It follows in the successful X5 luxury 50’ catamaran that won the best boat-award in 2017 and most innovative design-award 2018.

Both catamarans are designed by Cape Town designer Rudolf Jonker who is in Miami to talk about the catamaran that is expected to be in production later in 2019 with a first hull expected early next year.

Xquisite chief executive Tamas Hamor says: “This new model will be the ultimate luxury cruising catamaran for couples and families who want to explore our oceans under power, rather than sailing”.

New features include:

  • Dynamic positioning system
  • Joystick docking
  • Opening front windshield
  • Digital switching system
  • iPad based maintenance software
  • Hydraulic aft platform
  • Custom carbon fibre dinghy

So what makes Phoenix Marine so successful. It recently expanded its factory to  6500m². The company currently employs about 80 staff but will look to grow further with the addition of the new power cat. A large proportion of their team is women taking up jobs previously dominated by men.

Tania Louw,24, from Atlantis has been working for Phoenix for two years operating the CNC machine.

“More young women should take up jobs in the boat building industry. Seize these opportunities, because there are a variety of different roles you can do some very challenging,” says Tania.

Phoenix Marine has a fully operational boatyard with GRP, joinery and CAD Design department which uses CNC and 3D printing to assist in the design process.

On the walls of Clinton’s office are spreadsheets and graphs.

“We look for any margin we can gain. It will ensure our business is more productive in the future and we can grow. It is a very competitive market, and Cape Town’s boat building industry keeps innovating to stay ahead,” he says.

Phoenix Marine fosters a work environment that encourages teamwork, innovation, safety, continuous quality improvement and pride in craft.

“In each of the catamarans, we finish we hide a small plaque with all the people who worked on the boat. We take pride in our work,” said Clinton.

Learn more about Phoenix Marine

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