Please select your home edition
Edition
Fever-Tree 728x90

James Walters, Walcon Marine’s ‘travellin’ man'

by Bob Wonders on 16 Jan 2012
Peter Stanley, James Walters and Andy Goss Bob Wonders
Walcon Marine’s managing director James Walters freely admits that travel is not one of his favourite past times, yet it’s something he feels he is destined to do more of.

He rates Australia as virtually his 'second home', landing in the land down under at least three times each year ('I should really be there more often,' he quickly added), as well as regular trips across the English Channel to the company’s operations in Holland and Belgium.

A Master of Engineering from the University of Portsmouth, James Walters sets the same tough schedule for himself that his father Robin adhered to when he founded the company in 1964.

As James recalled, Robin Walters, still chairman of the board, was involved with a wall project on the UK’s River Hamble; he saw a contractor arrive on site with an array of steel drums and timber to form marina pontoons.

'Robin took one look and decided he could do better and the rest, as they say, is history with Walcon Marine’s establishment in 1964,' James explained.

Walcon Marine now has a strong link with the Boating Industry Association of NSW, and many members will attest to the tremendous improvement to the marina at the Sydney International Boat Show since the UK company became involved.

James in fact was at the 2011 Sydney International Boat Show to join with BIA president Darren Vaux and sign an extended contract; the occasion also marked the 10th anniversary of the company’s SIBS involvement.



Although Robin Walters is no longer engaged in day-to-day business with the company he founded, James says he remains 'absolutely passionate' when it comes to the business, marina developments and pontoon designs.

'He deserves to sit back a little and enjoy the fruits of his hard work,' James says.

James, wife Penny and children Emily, 13, and Nicholas, 11, reside on England’s south coast, between Southampton and Portsmouth.

Walcon Marine, UK employs 45 staff at its headquarters and six full time staff, two consultants and two part timers in its Australian operations.

James says the company is currently engaged on eight sites worldwide, the largest of which is right here in Australia, Western Australia, to be precise, where the company is building the Port Catherine Marina at Coogee for Australand.

Naturally, Walcon Marine sub contracts much of its work, including float manufacture, fabrication, decking, piling/mooring and site installation.

James Walters joined Walcon Marine in 1993. He was previously working with a civil engineering contractor involved with the building of bridges quay walls and sewage works.

On reflection, he feels it would have been beneficial to have stayed with that company, Dean and Dyball Construction, but when an opportunity arose in 1993 to link with Walcon Marine, he decided, with Robin, 'to go for it.'

'As it turned out, it has proven to be the correct decision, although I have had to work a lot harder and my learning curve has been very steep,' he declared.

Looking at the company’s achievements since James came on board, he has definitely approached that ‘learning curve’ in an enthusiastic manner.

'When I arrived at the company we sub-contracted all our piling works to others; I was fortunate enough to start at Walcon with guys that had been engaged on marine piling and had ample experience,' he explained.

'Over the years, Walcon Marine built up a reputation for providing the complete package using old piling plant.

'Nine years ago my team and I designed our ideal piling barge which we then had built to our specifications; it cost a lot of money with no real certainty of projects, but it has transformed our capabilities.

'Without doubt it has been one of the best decisions made at Walcon for it has increased our ability to win projects, win different and difficult projects and generally provide a quality service,' he added.


Walcon Marine can claim to be a worldwide company these days, with projects across Europe, the Middle East and of course, Australia.

'We seem to be particularly strong in Holland and Belgium where we are represented by a company called Infra Trading,' James explained.

'All our pontoon equipment manufactured in the UK is purchased by Infra Trading.

'We have also been engaged in projects in the Middle East for many years, where we have local sub-contractors who manufacture the floats, fabrications and decking; we generally project-manage these projects from the UK', he said.

Boat shows, of course, remain a primary focus for the company; in addition to the Sydney International Boat Show, Walcon Marine provides the 350-berth temporary marina for the Southampton International Boat Show, the Seawork Boat Show (also in Southampton), the London Boat Show, the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show and the Dubai Boat Show.

Taking a glance across the board (should that be across the world) at Walcon Marine’s many and varied projects, it seems a fairly safe bet that James Walters will have to accept that he is indeed a ‘travellin’ man’, for now and the immediate future.

He is due into Sydney, then Queensland and then Wester Australia before the end of this month.

If he’s really lucky, he might get to celebrate Christmas at home.

Unless of course, Santa Claus is in need of a marina at the North Pole.

C-Tech Emirates TNZNaiad/Oracle SupplierProtector - 660 x 82

Related Articles

A Q&A with Kimball Livingston about San Francisco high school sailing
I emailed with my friend and colleague Kimball Livingtston to learn about San Francisco’s latest sailing revolution. I started hearing whispers of shifts in the San Francisco Bay high school sailing scene a couple of months ago. A few inquiries led me to my good friend and colleague Kimball Livingston, a world-class sailor, scribe, and StFYC staff commodore who isn’t one to keep his seaboots dry when the topic turns to opportunities for the next sailing generation. I caught up with KL via email to learn more.
Posted on 13 Jun
A Q&A with Andrew Howe about winning the 2015 Marion to Bermuda Race
I interviewed Andrew Howe, the 2015 Marion to Bermuda Race’s winning co-navigator, to learn more about their race. In 2015, skipper Greg Marston and the crew of Ti, a 1967 Alden Mistral, racing under celestial rules, were the overall winners of the Marion Bermuda Race Founders Division, beating boats that were enjoying GPS accuracy. On the eve of the 2017 edition of the race, I reached out to Andrew Howe, the team’s co-navigator, to gain perspective on this impressive win and hear about his 2017 plans.
Posted on 7 Jun
An interview with Allan McLean about the 2017 Marion to Bermuda Race
I interviewed Allan McLean, the Marion to Bermuda Race’s executive director, to learn more about this biennial event. The 2017 Marion to Bermuda Race is set to kick off on Friday, June 9, so I caught up with Allan McLean, the race’s executive director, via email to learn more about the race’s history and evolution, its challenges, and the special America’s Cup experience that awaits Marion to Bermuda sailors upon reaching the Onion Patch.
Posted on 5 Jun
An interview with Ray Redniss about the STC’s annual Block Island Race
I caught up with Ray Redniss, the Block Island Race’s longtime PRO, via email to learn more about this classic event. I caught up with Ray Redniss, who has served as the PRO for the Block Island Race and the Vineyard Race (September 1, 2017) for the past twenty-plus years, via email to learn more about the state of this classic, early season New England event.
Posted on 22 May
An Q&A with Jeremy Pochman about 11th Hour Racing’s impressive efforts
I interviewed Jeremy Pochman of 11th Hour Racing to learn more about this forward-thinking environmental non-profit. 11th Hour Racing is doing some of the most forward-leaning environmental work in the entire marine sphere, and I wanted to learn more, so I reached out to Jeremy Pochman, 11th Hour Racing’s Strategic Director and Co-founder, to ask a few questions. All sailors are strongly encouraged to give this interview the time it deserves.
Posted on 15 May
A Q&A with Don Adams about Sail Canada’s plan to win Olympic medals
I caught up with Sail Canada CEO Don Adams to hear about Team Canada’s High Performance Plan for winning Olympic medals. Sail Canada, Canada’s national sailing authority, is implementing a new High Performance Plan with the aim of improving on their recent Olympic sailing performances. I caught up with Don Adams, CEO of Sail Canada, to learn more about this ambition plan for helping Canadian sailors win Olympic medals while also helping to inspire younger generations to pursue the Olympic-sailing dream.
Posted on 8 May
America's Cup - Southern Spars AC50 build for Emirates Team NZ + Video
The Peter Blake skippered Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map 27 years after Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map with her unequalled clean sweep of the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race, Southern Spars were called on to build Emirates Team NZ's America's Cup Challenger. Here's a look behind the scenes at the composite engineering process Southern Spars employ on projects ranging from Volvo OR spars, to Olympic bike wheels to an AC50
Posted on 1 May
She’s still here with us, and now we can be there for her
Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Yet it is what lies behind that which could be her most incredible characteristic. Sometimes you can almost overlook her steely determination, but not for long when you start talking with her. Catching up with her live from Cape Town surely was a vivid reminder of not only what this sailor can accomplish
Posted on 24 Apr
Gladwell's Line - Timeout in Bermuda and a decision OTUSA will regret?
With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath from what has been a hectic couple of months, both in Auckland and Bermuda. The third major Practice Session has concluded in Bermuda. This was conducted almost entirely if winds of around 16-25kts - starting to get close to the top end of the range for the AC50's.
Posted on 20 Apr
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on hitting the AC50's sound barrier
These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. The big difference between the AC72, the America's Cup Class, used in the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco and the smaller AC50 to be sailed in Bermuda, lies in their light and medium air performance. 'These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. In 7-8-9-10 knots of breeze, you are sailing at 30kts at times.
Posted on 18 Apr