Heritage and experience – With a history spanning over 35 years, Toby Allies from Pendennis looks at some notable past projects, the latest developments within the company and its refit yard, plus what the future holds for the iconic British superyacht facility
If there’s a shipyard that embodies the Britannia spirit of shipbuilding, it’s Pendennis. Nestled in the craggy coastline of southwest England – Falmouth, to be precise – the shipyard has built and delivered many iconic yachts over the years and is one of the most trusted yards for complex refit and rebuild projects.
After first opening its doors 35 years ago in 1988, its main facilities have grown to include three construction halls, two dry docks, an enclosed non-tidal wet basin and much more. It’s a bespoke builder with a portfolio that includes many outstanding new builds, refits and restoration projects. It’s a shipyard with a reputation that truly proceeds it.
Pendennis cut its teeth on sailing yachts, delivering its debut yacht in 1991: Taipan of Wales (ex. Taramber). The 37.4-metre Dubois Naval Architects and Terence Disdale-designed custom yacht was soon followed by a fleet of sailing yachts until 1999 when Pendennis delivered its first motor yacht, the 45.6-metre Moatize (ex. Ilona).
Pendennis continued to diversify its portfolio, adding an Ice Class explorer and the renowned 44.2-metre sailing catamaran, Hemisphere. Pendennis’ primary new build focus is on projects up to 60 metres in length, but it can refit superyachts up to 100 metres in length.
It also has a refit and repair centre in Vilanova, Spain, where it can service and winter superyachts in the heart of the Mediterranean. After three tiers of investment, Pendennis Vilanova has grown substantially and ofers a wide range of maintenance services. The site has a separate marina that can berth 48 superyachts, between 25 to 130 metres in length. Across the two sites, Pendennis employs over 500 skilled tradespeople.
Toby Allies, Managing Director at Pendennis Shipyard, joined us to discuss recent projects, events and what the future looks like for the British yard.
We’re more than halfway through 2023. How has the year been for Pendennis so far?
It’s a big year for us. We’re celebrating three anniversaries: 35 years of Pendennis, 25 years of our apprenticeship scheme and five years of Pendennis Vilanova.
I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved, how we’ve evolved as a shipyard and the many projects we’ve worked on.
In the 35 years we’ve been running, we’ve delivered some iconic new builds, such as the 54-metre motor yacht Steel, the regatta-winning sailing yachts such as Rebecca & Adela, and the 44-metre catamaran Hemisphere. We’re currently busy with the 34.9-metre explorer Project Fox, which we’re excited to see in the water later this year.
Pendennis is famed for its rebuild and restoration work. Have you seen a growing demand for these types of projects?
It’s an honour to have been entrusted with so many fantastic restoration and rebuild projects over the years. In the past 18 months we’ve delivered two projects I’m particularly delighted with: the 59-metre 1931 Camper & Nicholsons motor yacht Marala, which was awarded a Neptune Award in Turkey earlier this year; and the 68-metre repurposed commercial vessel Jester, which was booked in with us for an extensive rebuild.
Rebuilds and restoration projects have become more prevalent in our industry and yards all around the world have been busy working on these unique projects. It’s a trend I believe is here to stay and we’re constantly seeing a growing interest from our clients for these types of projects.
Catamarans are also growing in popularity. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the increased interest in multihull platforms and we’ve had a number of new enquiries in recent months. This year we also redelivered Hemisphere, following an extensive maintenance schedule. We completed the sailing catamaran in 2011 and she’s since circumnavigated the globe twice and cruised some of the world’s most remote locations. Her owner is a keen diver and thoroughly enjoys life on the water – as a result, she’s travelled hard. We’ve supported Hemisphere for 12 years now and even flew out to Malaysia to do a small refit. It was great to see her back in Falmouth.
Is Hemisphere an outlier or do you frequently work with repeat clients?
We are very proud of the amount of repeat business we have – both in Falmouth and Vilanova. This year we’ve redelivered a number of projects for repeat clients including Teleost, Nostromo, Lionheart and Va Bene following maintenance work – all repeat clients of ours. We continually provide a level of care and attention that retains our customers. We value our clients and they value us in return.
Are you still feeling the impact of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic?
We’re very much back to business as usual following the Covid-19 outbreak. As every business had to, Pendennis adapted and rolled out many precautionary measures – many of which we’ve kept in place. Working hours are more flexible now as we’ve adopted new shift patterns. Our staf reacted amazingly and supported us through that very di’cult time.
Brexit, naturally, is an ongoing conversation. Our Vilanova site opens up mainland Europe for us, and we’re able to provide technical support to our Pendennis fleet in the Mediterranean.
After five successful years of Pendennis Vilanova, are you looking to expand?
When we acquired the site in Vilanova i la Geltrú in 2018, it was a small marina with a basic shipyard. We’ve invested a lot into the site and have just completed the third phase of development, with the installation of a yacht component painting facility. Pendennis Vilanova ofers both long and short-term work, and the latter has proven very popular in both pre and post-Mediterranean seasons. Being located just an hour south of Barcelona, yachts can easily stop of for a quick service before undertaking the Atlantic crossing for the winter season, or be back charting in the Mediterranean within a day of being redelivered.
Coinciding with our fifth anniversary is the return of the America’s Cup to Europe. The events will be taking place around Barcelona, and we’re privileged to be hosting the Preliminary Regatta of the 37th America’s Cup at Pendennis Vilanova in September 2023. We’re very pleased with how well Pendennis Vilanova is going and we’re considering acquiring other facilities in the near future.
How important is education and training at Pendennis?
Our apprenticeship scheme is celebrating its 25th anniversary and its 350th student this year. We’re terribly proud. But training and education aren’t exclusively reserved for our apprentices.
We consider training an integral part of anyone’s career and we provide courses and education for all our employees – all the way through to retirement. We even have a number of retirees returning as mentors, sharing their expertise and knowledge with the new starters. We embrace training as part of the core DNA at Pendennis.
What steps is Pendennis taking to ensure it’s future- proofed and supportive both environmentally and socially?
All energy we buy is green, and we’re developing an environmental and sustainability business strategy to further reduce our carbon footprint and energy consumption.
We’re very active in our local community: we supply labour during apprenticeship weeks, run many local projects and work with numerous charities. As a business, we also have significant purchasing power within the southwest region, and spend £3.95m of money locally. On-site we run health and well-being initiatives and have a Charity Committee that allocates funds on a monthly basis.
What can we expect from Pendennis in the coming years?
We’ve proven as a business that we don’t stand still; we’re always looking for opportunities to improve our ofering to the market, and we will continue to do so.
We have achieved a significant amount over the past 35 years and we have many exciting ideas for the future. 2024 will be another great year for Pendennis as we’ll be delivering some fantastic projects to the market.