The Princess Royal sparked rumours when she opened the new Southerly factory yesterday

The Princess Royal, visited the Northshore Shipyard in Itchenor yesterday, Monday 19th April to open the new 13,000 sq ft Southerly factory and showroom. Around 50 key guests were invited, including local dignitaries and Southerly designers Rob Humphreys, Stephen Jones and Ed Dubois. Following a tour around the premises (and a look at the two new 57’s in build), and short welcome by CEO Lester Abbott, the Princess unveiled a plaque to officially open the new Factory.

Abbot took over the 39-year old company in 2003 and has injected drive and capital into delivering more and more new Southerly designs – resulting in demand from 66 countries now worldwide. Indeed, over 40% of Southerly’s business is now export. This obviously hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Princess, who as  President of the RYA, is a keen sailor, and current ownwe of a Rustler 36. As well as agreeing to do this opening, she also made an unscheduled pitstop on the Southerly stand during the London Boatshow, which began the rumours.

As the swing-keel phenomenon goes from strength to strength, could Princess Anne be thinking of investing in another British cruising boat?