Knysna 500 SE



The Knysna 500 SE is a pretty, sporty looking 50 foot cruising catamaran built by the Knysna Yacht Company in South Africa. This boat has plenty of fans thanks to her build quality, looks and value for money. The yard completes around 4 yachts per year and they are focused on getting the details right.

She´s around the same length as the ITA 14.99 but more orientated towards comfort rather than performance, but with a higher finish than the volume manufacturers like Fountaine Pajot, Lagoon and Leopard.

Let´s take a look.

In General

She looks fantastic with those sleek lines and in common with most boats that launch in South Africa – she´s built for comfortable long distance cruising. The single bulkhead starboard helm is well protected by a hard top bimini with a window up top for better sail visibility and it´s spacious. All four corners of the boat are visible from your perch. She does look low in the water compared to some other boats in her class, so I would need to dig into any bridgedeck slamming issues. This doesn´t seem to come up as an issue with existing owners, so I am guessing that they have sculpted the undersides to minimise this.

The boom is nice and low on the coachroof, so that mainsail is easy to get to and the power from the sail is kept low.

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All the lines run back to winches at the helm meaning that this yacht is well set up for short handed or even single handed sailing, and the whole running rigging plan is very neat with bags to stow your lines and other tidy features. If the weather turns nasty, just roll down the clear enclosure and you should be pretty snug up here.

Of course the flip side of that is that you cannot quickly nip up front if you need to, you need to step down and around.

Moving forward, the Knysna 500 SE has nice wide decks and she feels safe to move about on in a seaway, although it would have been nice to see flush hatches.

The Knysna 500 SE comes fully loaded with all sorts of features as standard: air conditioning, TV system, ice maker, Permatek decking in the cockpit, watermaker, generator and so on – she represents great value for money if you are looking for the complete cruising package. When you compare it to other cruising cats (read our Lagoon 450F review for example), you get a lot for your money.

Under Way

The Knysna 500 comes with a 75 m2 (800 sq ft) mainsail and a 50 m2 (538 sq ft) genoa which powers her 13.5 tonnes along nicely. When the wind dies, you can fire up 2 x54 hp engines to move you efficiently through the chop.

This yacht has plenty of sail area and for calmer conditions there is a screecher on a furler on the bowsprit which is good to go. She´s no slouch.

The main drops easily and you can sail with the screecher and the genoa wing on wing if you are heading downwind in lighter winds..



The helm we have already covered – this seems to be the “Go To” position for many South African cats and it works well on the Knysna. You are connected to the rest of the cockpit and it´s very comfortable and easy to communicate, but at the same time the helmsman or helmswoman has their own space to sail the boat safely.

We really like some of the features in the aft cockpit – they´re pretty unique to this boat. There´s a swim platform in between the aft bench and the davits that makes it easy to manoeuvre the dinghy at anchor.

No South African boat would be complete without a decent barbeque to cook up up a braai, and this is neatly positioned on the starboard side of the swimming platform with plenty of space to cook away from the hustle and bustle. There´s even a little aft facing seat here just in case you need to take a break from the cooking with a cold beer. Very nice!

If you like reeling in the tuna, then you will also appreciate the other aft facing seat and filleting table on the port side: all great touches. The teak dining table is nestled in front of the aft sofa bench (which can lower as an option to make a day bed) that runs along the transom and there are two additional lounging spots on either side.

Saloon and Down Below

Looking back from the galley

What really sets the Knysna 500 SE catamaran apart from the competition is the quality of the furnishings and finish once you head inside the boat. You can tell that this is a semi-custom boat and she looks like she will age graciously.

All the cabinetry, catches and general carpentry on this yacht are well above the quality that you will see on production boats.

The saloon is really cosy with a curved sofa forward and there are some custom options available to organise this area.

On the boats we have seen, the U-shaped galley is on the starboard side. You can then either go for a nav station or storage forward of the galley (not everyone goes the nav station as the helm is so well protected). Ventilation is fine, although we would have liked to have seen larger forward facing hatches in the saloon- the space is limited by the molded steps from the fore-deck to the coach roof I guess.

There are 2 decent sized hatches in the roof of the saloon.

Down below, the quality feel continues. If you have gone for an owner´s version, you will have the guest accommodation in the starboard hull. This is a very neat design with a cosy raised berth amidships forward and a head beyond that. Knysna have really done a great job on the storage space – they´ve used all of the available space very well and you´re spoilt for choice in the hulls.

There is another guest cabin aft which is laid out more conventionally with its own head and shower room. I love the way that the shower has it´s own screen.

As you would expect, the master suite is even more spacious. There is lots of storage and I like the side windows by the berth that look out onto the sea.

There´s space for a vanity area or office space just forward of the cabin and a big show room with separate head forward, again with plenty of area for stowage.


If you compare the Knysna 500 SE to production boats of a similar size, you´ll be struck at the difference in quality of the finish from this yard. If you are looking to cover the miles quickly in a very comfortable boat, this should be on your shopping list.

This feels like it has been pitched at a similar comfort/performance balance as a Nautitech but with a higher quality finish and with a more protected helm. She represents excellent value for money: I love all the little touches and the clever design for storage.

Technical Specification


15.24m/ 50ft


13.77 m/ 45.17f t


7.96 m/ 27"


1.44 m/ 3’11.5"


75 sqm/ 800 sq ft


50 sqm/ 538 sq ft


13.5 tonnes


2 x 57hp