Thandiwe was the first 500SE to be built by Knysna Yacht Company, in their factory based in Knysna South Africa. A good friend of mine, who has owned a Knysna 440 (44-foot catamaran) for 12 years, introduced me to the idea of owning my own boat. And, for a newbie to sailing a catamaran seemed to tick all the right boxes.
At the time the Knysna 480 (48-foot catamaran) was then the mainstay of the company and the first Knysna 500s were under construction. Although I loved the look and performance of the Knysna 500 I felt that the cockpit space was a bit on the small side for entertaining. However, I managed to persuade Keven Fouche, the boatyard owner, to let me come up with a design to improve the cockpit layout and then build it for me as a ‘special edition’, and at my own financial risk if it didn’t work out. I became the subject of great amusement at the Knysna Yacht Club as I knew nothing about boats, and I was telling a very capable boat builder how his design could be improved. The rest, as they say, is history. Fortunately for me, my design proved to be a great success and the Knysna 500SE, as it has become known, is now the company’s standard offering.
My design mockup can be seen above, demonstrating a much larger 8 seat table with plenty of additional seating space around, while still retaining the transom behind the new curved seat in order to gain easy access to the tender and braai/barbeque.