Cape 31 One Design


The Cape 31 was defined from the outset as a simple clean high performance One Design without constraint, conceived and brought to fruition by Cape Town resident and prominent sailor Lord Irvine Laidlaw of ‘Highland Fling’ fame.  Designed for one of the world’s great sailing locations, we optimised the Cape 31 for a combination of both upwind and offwind performance in a breeze while retaining lighter airs capabilities. Freed from the commercial pressures that usually require a project of this nature to be widely advertised and often compromised before the first boat is ready to launch, we were able to focus on the brief and deliver a fast modern speedster.



The design has proved to be very successful, with a fleet in double digits in Cape Town, and expanding worldwide.  Dr. Tina Plattner, owner of TNT hull number 5 (below) mailed the projects founder Lord Laidlaw after the launch of her new boat:

“We’ve now sailed 3 Wednesday nights in our boat and are loving it. she goes well in light breeze as well as a decent south easter, we yesterday hit 23 knots going downwind!  At the same time the designers got it right that she is not slow upwind either.  Cut a long story short, the Cape 31 is a really fun boat and thanks again for making this possible for Cape Town we will have a lot of fun with this fleet, and I really hope that some more people will decide to buy one now that they are seeing 4 or 5 of us sailing out there…”



Building on our experience developing fast light hullforms with the assistance of our R&D partners KND/Sailing Performance, we produced a low freeboard aggressively chined hullshape that maximises form stability in a breeze but enjoys low wetted surface when upright. The chine running forward to the bow helps produce a bow-up moment at speed in the often windy swell of Cape Town.  Designer Mark Mills described the process of producing this design, “The challenge with this hullshape for an all-around design is to balance the beam, fullness in the bow, and the chine height aft to produce the most powerful possible design offwind, without removing its upwind capabilities.  The latest CFD provided by KND helps us visualise how the boat will behave and push those variables further than we could before.”


Engineering from Steve Koopman at composite engineering specialists SDK resulted in an aggressive but production friendly structure that accommodates a socketed deep carbon keel fin and a powerful sail plan, developed with North Sails South Africa and set on a Southern Spars Cape Town carbon rig.  With the focus purely on performance we drew a clean ramp deck for easy operation developed from our innovative Maxi 72 World Champion design Alegre.  The theme of simplicity is carried throughout the deck layout developed with Project Manager Mike Giles, including details such as the under deck jib sheet control system which replaces conventional jib tracks.


Designed to be the tightest possible fit for a High Cube container to allow easy shipping worldwide, orders for this Uwe Jasperson-built Cape 31 approached double digits even before the project went public.  This confirms Irvine Laidlaw’s vision for a fleet of yachts to support youth sailing in Cape Town, boat building in South Africa, and forms the basis of a successful One Design class.  More information is available at


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