Pendennis, based in Falmouth, Cornwall, is one of the world’s leading superyacht build and refit facilities and is the only British business of its type. It began life in 1988 and has built, repaired, restored and refitted a plethora of motor and sailing yachts from bygone years. Pendennis’s reputation for luxury refits is stellar, with a skilled in-house team and state-of-the-art facilities generating impressive loyalty from some of the world’s highest-profile superyacht owners.
Toby Allies is at the helm of the business, we caught up with him to hear more of his experience of the superyacht industry.
What makes Pendennis unique?
Our workforce is what sets us apart. Uniquely, due to our location, we have had to build our own workforce, rather than rely on contractors like other superyacht businesses, which we have achieved predominantly through our award-winning four-year apprenticeship programme.
We currently employ over 450 contracted members of staff, with many coming from the scheme. In fact, in the 24 years since it was launched, over 240 young people have taken part, with an impressive 90 per cent retention rate following graduation, and our leadership team is made up of 60 per cent ex-apprentices. This ensures everyone truly knows our business and clients, and the level of quality and craftmanship we achieve, having grown their careers with Pendennis. We have also led the way with gender diversity in the industry.
Our facilities are also world-class, and have recently had a £22 million overhaul to include the world’s largest mast spray booth. As the world’s third-deepest natural harbour, Falmouth is a brand itself as a major international sailing and boating destination, and it is additionally well-placed for technical pit stops for boats travelling to Europe, the UK, the Baltic and even over to America.
Do you work internationally as well as in Falmouth?
Pendennis competes in a global market; in addition to our Falmouth shipyard, we opened a Pendennis Palma refit service facility in 2011 and following on from the success of this, a new technical service centre in Vilanova near Barcelona in 2018. The marina and technical service centre provides technical support to vessels transiting the Mediterranean.
How is the superyacht industry changing?
In the past superyachts were generally reserved for those in their golden years – fast forward to 2022 and today’s buyer and charterer can be a little different. There are many budding millennial millionaires and billionaires asking for something new, seeking a boat that adheres to their love of adventure and individualism.
Each owner wants their own stamp on their boat, and for it to be a one-off. This is echoed in our truly bespoke approach, with each hull and part created for a specific boat. The boatbuilding process if therefore becoming more complex, and scope and specifications are adapting quickly, in sync with technological advances.
What type of yacht are owners looking for today?
People are wanting to travel further and as such, the ability to go anywhere takes a top priority for yacht owners today. One third of the projects currently underway at Pendennis fall into the explorer category. These yachts are designed to be adventurous with larger, more efficient fuel and storage capacity, and space and comfort is more important than speed. Not only beautiful vessels to reach amazing destinations, they max out enjoyment once there.
Yacht owners are travelling beyond the Mediterranean to the likes of the Pacific, Asia and Alaska. And once there, they’re making use of the space afforded on explorer yachts, enjoying the equipment that the yachts can carry. From water toys and tenders to amphibious vehicles and submersibles, if it’s needed for adventure, the newest explorer yachts can carry it.
What type of special requests do you receive from yacht owners?
Every owner wants to put their own stamp on their yachts; every boat must look exceptional and be a one off. At Pendennis we offer a truly bespoke service using a highly skilled workforce.
We are moving away from conventional luxury features like helicopter landing pads, or Jacuzzis, which have come to feel expected, and are developing more dynamic additions. Requests that stand out include bomb bay doors – typically found on military aircraft – to allow the loading and unloading of a 7.5m tender on the world’s largest sailing catamaran, Hemisphere; a telescopic section of mast on SY MITseaAH so she could fit under the Brooklyn Bridge; and the installation of an oculus in the owners suite of SY Vijonara, so the owners could see the ocean and sea life below the yacht throughout the day and night.
Do you also work on restoration projects?
Restoring older motor and sailing yachts, some of which can be over 100 years old, is a major part of our offering. Taking on the challenge of sympathetically restoring any yacht built in a bygone age, stripping back years of wear and tear to reveal the original beauty and heritage, is Pendennis’s true privilege and passion. Project highlights over the years have included Shamrock V, Fair Lady, Haida 1929, Mariette, Malahne and Marala. Many of these have gone on to win industry accolades and are some of the most iconic yachts on the water today.
Our most recent restoration project was the 59m classic Camper and Nicholsons’ motor yacht Marala. The vessel spent nearly three years undergoing an intensive restoration that saw her returned to her 1930s glory. The focus of the restoration project has been driven by the desire to preserve Marala’s pedigree and illustrious history, whilst incorporating modern systems and technology onboard.
On Marala’s maiden voyage she visited the Channel Islands and the Isles of Scilly just off the Cornish coast, before transiting to Pendennis Vilanova our base in the Mediterranean to continue her preparation for her first charter season next summer.
Find out more about Pendennis.