Andrew Winch interview: Wizard of design

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Super talented yacht designer Andrew Winch explains a bit of his magic, seeing the future with clear idea to create not only beautiful but also ‘clean’ yachts looking from environmental perspective, while he plans to visit Croatian waters this summer on board his sailing boat

If we were to handpick one yacht designer in the world, we would have an incredibly hard task, but if we had to choose, that would be Andrew Winch.

Andrew Winch Portrait 01
Andrew Winch’s love of yachts was ignited in childhood, during long summers spent sailing the Solent in his father’s Beneteau

The reasons for that we find in his impressive portfolio with incredible variety of works which stretches from yachting to private aviation and home design, in his ability to materialize various client’s wishes into stunning designs, but also to steer the ‘client’s design’ into some of the greatest yachts in the world, for the ability to develop his design studio into respectable 100+ people company able to encounter various difficult design tasks in the same period of time, and last but not least to continue legacy of his master, late Jon Bannenberg.

Andrew Winch first sailing yacht project was a Swan 36

Oh, and if you visit any good international bookstores you might notice a nice thick book showcasing what we have just mentioned. On top of this there is additional reason why we would run this feature in Yachts Croatia, being that Andrew Winch is a keen sailor who loves to cruise Croatian waters on board his Jeanneau 64, the boat whose interiors he designed too.

But real trigger for the interview was his presentation on board new Lürssen yacht TIS last year during Monaco show, when he explained the challenges they had to achieve incredibly complicated design task, that turned into the beauty of the style interpreting owner’s wishes. On the same day we were on board Excellence, new Abeking & Rasmussen yacht that could be no more different than TIS.

TIS and Excellence are extremely different boats. In reality they are for two unique and highly individual clients whose lifestyles are different, whose businesses are different and who travel and work in a different way

Both yachts have been proudly standing almost one next to each other, and carefully designed by Winch Design, not to forget that they were both playing into giga league. This was a reason for ‘chapeau’ to Mr. Winch and his associates who showed us how good design team could work. Therefore, we are very happy to be able to share some of the ‘wisdom of the wizard’ with you.

You design sailing boats, yachts, aircrafts and luxury homes. Can you pick some projects between these that were special to you?

Having been brought up by the sea on the South Coast of England, in Chichester Harbour, sailing and boats have always been my hobby, my love and my passion. Sailing boats are similar to jets and aircraft; both can have an issue with stability and security when travelling so safety is important for both. Motor yachts are inherently more stable, and the fun is to be on board when they are at anchor and swimming and water toys are launched. My first sailing yacht project was a Swan 36 followed by a 140ft custom sail yacht called Cyclos III which I have designed with Ron Holland who was the naval architect. Ron and I have worked together for many years and we are now building a new 42m schooner together. Cyclos III was probably one of the most special projects and the owner loved her and kept her for over 25 years! In regard to motor yachts, many people have seen our project, Madame Gu, an iconic yacht symbolizing beauty afloat.

Yacht Madame Gu 01
Superyacht Madame Gu is designed by Andrew Winch Designs, who were responsible for both interior and exterior

Can you mention the few milestones in the last four decades, for you personally?

I started my design career with Jon Bannenberg, who was a mentor for me and taught me many things about design, presentation and professionalism. Working with him for seven years was a great milestone. The first design milestone for me was Cyclos III followed by my first motor yacht project, Feadship 49m White Rabbit. Then of course both of our two largest projects, 162m Dubai and 156m Dilbar.

The first question for any client and colleague at Winch Design is ‘what is the target’? It is so important to be successful at delivering the project that one starts by identifying the core principals of the project

What would be your advice to late Jon Bannenberg be looking at him from today’s perspective?

Jon pushed the boundaries in yacht design generally more than anyone else. His bravery and stubbornness created a platform on which yacht designers can look at shapes, perspectives, and lifestyle of yacht design. My advice, if it were even welcome to Jon, would be to continue creating the greatest yachts in the world.

Falcon 7X 01
Winch design Falcon 7X

And what would your advice be to your client before approaching you with a ‘dream’?

The first question for any client and colleague at Winch Design is ‘what is the target’? It is so important to be successful at delivering the project that one starts by identifying the core principals of the project; the design, the lifestyle, the owner’s family and friends, the function and performance, size, facilities, toys to carry, even down to the colour of hull and glass. Sometimes we will draw a project of our own which becomes the dream of the client, like motor yacht Excellence with her reversed bow and mirrored superstructure. On other occasions, the client has bought a previous Winch Design boat like the 52m Gu project that then became the template for a newer and bigger, more amazing 99m Madame Gu.

We must create yachts that are environmentally friendly and footprint free as possible. Clean yachts are going to be the future of Winch Design

TIS and Excellence are as different as they can be. Was it hard to switch from one to another at the same time? Do they have something in common?

TIS and Excellence are extremely different boats. In reality they are for two unique and highly individual clients whose lifestyles are different, whose businesses are different and who travel and work in a different way. The owner of TIS had chartered many different yachts before deciding exactly what he wanted his own personal yacht to be. The owner of Excellence had built and owned five previous yachts exactly as he wanted them and now with that confidence, he decided to step into the future with a radical change. Excellence still embodies all the functions, features, lifestyle and choices – even down to the woods and marbles that the client is passionate about. TIS embodies the culture and lifestyle that the client has enjoyed in many hotels that he has visited as his business has moved him around the world. The quality, culture, ambience and feeling of these hotels was important for the owner of TIS to feel relaxed and at home, such as; the Bristol in Paris, Claridge’s in London, Hermitage in Monaco or the Hotel Du Cap in Cap Ferrat.

Superyacht Interior 01
The owner of superyacht Excellence decided to step into the future with a radical change

Did COVID-19 health situation already influence the client’s wishes, and if so, how?

The COVID health situation has been difficult for everyone in the entire world. It has created a new perspective on safety, health and life. If anything, I believe it has given all our clients a greater desire for time with their family. Time to be in their private jets travelling, in their private homes or afloat in their yachts, where they find freedom and beauty is important and Croatia is definitely at the top of the list with many of our clients. Motor yacht Ace is travelling to Croatia this season, as are many others whose owners adore the water and islands of Croatia.

Kiev Chateau 01
Private residence in Kiev designed by Andrew Winch Design

Do you expect some trend for the future based on the consequences of the COVID related situation, especially a positive trend?

I believe that COVID may have an effect on the medical facilities. However, yachts have always been incredibly clean with fastidious attention to detail in bathrooms, galleys, carpets, floors etc. This will not change from pre-covid to post. Air conditioning has always been a key factor and clean systems are a part of the quality yacht that we build today. Even with many yachts, pre-covid, we were already building in medical facilities for the safety and health of our clients.

Croatia is one of the very top places in the Mediterranean to cruise and I have enjoyed it myself as a keen sailor

Summer between Dubrovnik and Split

Sustainability and environmental protection are becoming more and more important. Where do you see the yachting industry in this process?

Sustainability and environmental protection are key to the beauty of the oceans we love. For many years now we have supported the BLUE marine foundation that is endeavoring to save the oceans and save the fish that we love to find swimming around the yachts and our oceans. We must create yachts that are environmentally friendly and footprint free as possible. We are now working with The Water Revolution to understand the most ecological materials from source to product with its history of how and where the materials have all come from. The wind and sun is free and harnessing both for electrical power is important. Clean yachts are going to be the future of Winch Design.

Andrew Winch Team Winch Design 01
Andrew Winch is recognised as one of the world’s leading superyacht designers

Can you pick one young designer whose work you appreciate?

As I am the oldest in my studio of 110 people, I have many designers younger than me who I think are incredibly talented and individuals who form a great partnership within the company of Winch Design. Many have joined me from college as one can see their talent emerging and have learnt the realities of the industry, the client and the shipyards. We work on projects of every size. The smaller the project such as the new projects with Jeanneau that we are building (sail boats of 50-65 feet) are complicated and very difficult to design so they are an asset to my team. The other end of the spectrum, a large private jet like a Dreamliner or an Airbus 320 is equally complicated to create beautiful work. In Architecture, our team are working on projects from city apartments in New York to mansions of 4,000 SQM, all over the world, both water edge in Croatia or city centre in New York. Who is young in Winch Design? Everyone other than myself and I congratulate them all for being the future of our business.

Jeanneau 64 01
Andrew Winch is a keen sailor who loves to cruise Croatian waters on board his Jeanneau 64

Croatia is known as very appreciated cruising ground, especially for sailing boats. As we know, you are a keen sailor, did you ever visit Croatia and do you plan to do it?

Croatia is one of the very top places in the Mediterranean to cruise and I have enjoyed it myself as a keen sailor. From north of Split down to Hvar, both with family and with friends. In fact, this year I am planning to sail on my own Jeanneau 64, called Polar Bear, to cruise from Athens to Venice, spending the majority of the summer based between Dubrovnik and Split. I look forward to doing this as soon as we can all return to some form of normality of travel and for having the boat ready to join the wonderful waters of Croatia.

Text Darko Šupuk

Photos Winch Media, Klaus Jordan, Gilles Martin Raget, Jeff Brown, Michal Baginski & Feadship

Video Feadship

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