If, like me, you’d never heard of South Boats before you saw them pop up as the title sponsor of the 2011 Half Ton Classic Cup you might be interested to know that the company is actually one of the Isle of Wight’s great business success stories.
Founded in 1996 and based in Cowes, South Boats has become one of the great UK successes in ship building and is a worldwide market leader with their range of GRP and aluminium offshore wind farm service vessels and support and work boats.
The South Boats story started in 1996 with 8m monohull vessels followed by the extensive and much publicized outfit of a 12m Lochin vessel in 1998. In 1999 catamarans were added to the range with the first 10m vessel ‘J&B’ still in service today with her first owner, fishing off the Isle of Wight. A few years later, a further 10m vessel ‘Sundance’ assured South Boats’ position as the UK’s leading builder of angling and diving charter vessels.
In 2004, following some research in the emerging offshore wind market, South Boats built their first offshore wind farm crew transfer vessel, ‘Sirocco’. More work boats for this industry followed before full production started in 2007, forcing a structured expansion.
Today production and operations take place over four sites and is one of the largest builders of aluminium catamaran work boats in the UK with over 150 skilled workers and a turnover in excess of £20m.
The company has a vision to achieve a further 100% growth to maintain a minimum 50% market share globally of offshore wind farm work boats. Extensive research has been carried out on quantity and type of work boats required to support offshore wind farm construction and O&M around the world and licensee’s are already being appointed with yards that share South Boat’s vision.
Next time you head up the Medina keep an eye open for the South Boats vessels at their current location at Medina Yard just above the chain ferry and soon you will also be able to see South Boats at Venture Quays as the company has also just expanded into new fit-out facilities there as well.