Phil Southwell sailed into Cape Town in 1981 and has been in South Africa on-and-off ever since. Prior to forming his own company, Phil designed with Lavranos & Associates for eight years, gaining the required experience, after completing his degree, for membership of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects. During this time he took a BSc in Computer Science at the University of Cape Town to complement the CDip in Yacht & Boat Design from Southampton UK.
Southwell Yacht Design (SYD) was established in 1988. The first boat off the drawing board - Get More Fun Telefunken - broke the record set for the Durban-to-Mauritius run on her maiden voyage. Immediately thereafter, she took line honors in the 1989 Crystic Beachcomber crossing from Mauritius to Durban in the incredible time of six days, knocking more than two days off the previous record. Next from SYD came the highly successful Sovereign 54, flagship of John Robertson Yachts and until recently, the largest and most excitingly versatile monohull to go into production in Southern Africa. The yard stopped taking orders after the fourteenth was placed, as this represented two years of production. More production boats followed, including the Sovereign 43, the Islander 48, Jevan 32 and Sovereign 51. As the yachting industry developed and South Africans returned home, having experienced the extended cruising life, a series of custom blue-water cruisers - a 51' pilot-house cruiser and three fast 60' blue-water cruisers - were constructed in aluminum by the Jacobs Brothers. Who also built "Get More Fun" and the 82' "Hulett Aluminum” cruiser.
The Richleigh 63 was designed as a pure production charter boat, winning charter boat of the year at the Antigua show in 1992. At the time she was the largest production yacht manufactured in the Southern hemisphere - a major coup for the South African boat building industry. The Falcon 26 micro-multi prototype won every regatta entered, breaking several SA course-records. The prototype Falcon, sailing as "National Radiators", made a clean sweep of all trophies in its first entry in the Micro-multi class of the prestigious NCS Regatta in Durban, South Africa.
The Island Spirit range of cruising cats’ hull was developed from the Falcon. 35, 38 and 40 foot versions were the first in the world to incorporate wrap-around windows, wide hulls, open transoms opening onto contiguous aft-deck and saloon areas. Over 50 have been built and they have a loyal following in a dozen countries.
Other designs, and awards:
- 35' cruising cat, featured a phenomenal amount of living space for a cat this size
- Luxury 44' custom cat - the Beachcomber 440.
- South Africa's first Mini-Transat
- Select 440 cruiser-racer
- Floating conference center with catering and dining facilities able to accommodate up to 60 delegates, A shoal draft 45' alloy cruiser to explore the Antarctic.
- 87' four cabin version of the successful Richleigh 63 charter yacht
- Bare-boat 35' for dive charters.
- 72' day sailing catamaran with dive center, bar and water sports on-board
- The Fluid range of semi custom, performance cats which included the 550 owner version, 450 owner charter and live-aboard, sail-training versions, and the 45' fly-bridge, game-fishing power-cat
- Racing power cat “Mars Bar”
- “Solo” and “Tandem” performance sailing dinghies
- For Stealth yachts, styling of the 520 high-speed passenger limousine and the 350 multipurpose RIB
- Many other custom one-off mono and multihulls
- Yacht tenders; paddle boards; boat scooters; custom furniture; Amarok, Isuzu and Corsa canopies and after-market kits, etc..
- Logos, brochures, diagrams, instruction/owner and user manuals, even books, signage, posters and clothing
The Maverick 400 is the latest production catamaran from SYD. It won 'Best Sailing Craft' for 2009 and 2010. Currently on the computer is an extended Maverick 440 and a fuel-efficient 50' power catamaran with surface-piercing hulls and high bridge-deck clearance. To specialize in extended expeditions. Phil started hand-drawing boats, progressed to AutoCAD 2D and then 3D in which he became a qualified trainer at expert level. He now designs exclusively in 3D, generating work-files for computer milling and laser cutting of molds and interiors. Typical design sets run to hundreds of drawing and everything, including all systems, is meticulously detailed. Photo-realistic renderings, produced in part at the proposal stage, assist in establishing the concept and later selling the product.
Phil works with production builders, other stylists and 3D sculpting factories; focusing on production catamarans and their production process, with the occasional land vehicle and industrial design projects. When he isn't designing cool stuff he is sailing his Maverick 400 in the Bahamas.
These are stand up people, who make a stand up product. I would buy from them again in a heartbeat.
~ Jay Clark, Dolphin 460
I just wanted you to know that your level of service and the high degree of customer satisfaction have made owning my Dolphin a great experience.
~ Daniel Zlotnick, Dolphin