Being Andrew Winch

A superyacht legend of his own

Andrew Winch is a name that goes hand in hand with some of the finest yachts ever built. Like Espen Øino, his sole name calls to fantastic superyachts creation and dozen of design awards, but it is also linked to his studio, Andrew Winch Design, established in 1986 in the south west part of London. Nestled in an old fire station remarkably preserved and arranged to welcome its teams working on several types of projects (superyachts, private jets, architecture and interiors), there is no doubt that this is a company whose founder truly loves the world in which he works! Talking about facts, Andrew Winch and his creative team delivered not less than 60 superyachts, on both exterior and interior designs: from the impressive lines of PLVS ULTRA (Amels 74m), ARETI (Lürssen 85m), ACE  (Lürssen 86m) or PHOENIX² (Lürssen 90m) to famous vessels like CLOUD 9 (CRN 74m), MADAME GU (Headship 99m), AL-MIRQAB (Peters Schiffbau 133m) and the remarkable DILBAR (Lürssen 156m)

Recognized as one of the most talented designer of the superyacht industry, Andrew Winch and his studio won not more than 30 prestigious awards. From the prestigious World Superyacht Awards (AL-MIRQAB in 2009, MADAME GU in 2014, DILBAR in 2017), to the ShowBoats Design Awards prize in 2017 for PLVS ULTRA or the International Superyachts Society prizes in 2000 for CAKEWALK (now AQUILA, Derecktor Shipyards  85m) and in 2009 for SLIPSTREAM (CMM 60m), the British creative mind is a legacy of his own. These awards reflect exactly the statement f his studio: “Beauty. Uniqueness. Perfect Proportion. At Winch Design, we believe that every design – be it for land, sea or air – must be imbued with these things.”

Considering his clients as his greatest inspiration, Andrew Winch and his team aren’t building a yacht, but an expression of the lifestyle of their clients. Imperial and Andrew Winch established strong and respected relationships through the last decade, which will give berth soon to a fantastic 77m project at Nobiskrug shipyard.  In this interview, published in our 2018 Charter Directory issue, Andrew Winch shared his passion for the charter industry, superyacht design and his background. While giving us a bit of his precious time to share with us his preferred charter options and talking about his involvement in charity actions, we understood that Andrew Winch isn’t only a creative mind of our industry, but a true British gentleman

Portrait of Andrew Winch and yachts pictures: copyright Andrew Winch design
Photo of Evgeniy Kochman and Andrew Winch: copyright Blue I Prod for Imperial


Imperial: What’s your background?
Andrew Winch: I grew up sailing from about the age of five or six in Chichester Harbour, Sussex, in a little place called Bosham. My parents would take me there every weekend and we sailed all kinds of dinghies, from clinker-built sailboats to Gulls and Lasers. Later on at college, when I was studying three-dimensional design, I wanted to design a boat as my final project. They said I could only do that if I found a tutor who would take me on, so after some research, I found Jon Bannenberg and knocked on his door. He took pity on me and agreed, so I was very lucky.
At the age of about 21, I then got a job as a yacht skipper. I sailed across the Atlantic from Ibiza to Antigua on a 52-foot sailboat and spent four months running the boat in the Caribbean. It had been John’s idea for me to go sailing and learn about yachting, so when I came back, I wrote to him, asking for a job and he told me to come round and see him. He took me on as a pencil sharpener and barista and the rest is history.

IY: Does your sailing heritage continue to define your approach to design?
Yes it does. Sailing in a Laser dinghy on your own, when the tide’s against you and you’re hardly moving, gives you a lot of time to look at all the moored boats. I found a great many of them were ugly and I always thought I could design better looking boats myself. My very first project as an independent designer was the deck and interior of a Swan 36 and there are now two Swan 36s, each about 30 years old, sitting on the moorings in Bosham Harbour. When I sail there now, it’s a really nice treat to see my own designs.

IY: What are the key challenges in designing a vessel for charter?
When I approach each project, my objective is to identify the target of the job. So if I’m looking at a charter yacht, I have to find out from the owner whether he’s looking at one week of charter each year or 20. Does he want to charter from Monaco or does he want to charter all over the world, from Iceland to Antarctica, as well as Monaco? You have to find the target of the design before you can design the project successfully.
But the key thing on a charter yacht is that it’s not a private yacht for the charterer – it’s the holiday location for their family and their guests as well. Every single person who is on that boat has to enjoy themselves, because the person paying the bill doesn’t want to hear from a friend that the bed is too small or the water coming out of the tap is discoloured. The smallest personal detail can make all the difference to a good charter holiday.

IY: What kind of yacht do you personally tend to charter?
Before I decided to buy my own boat, which I designed with Philippe Briand, I chartered three different sailboats of three different sizes – and that’s something I recommend that all our clients do. I chartered a 90-foot, three-cabin boat called WHIRLWIND, which had three guest bedrooms. Then I chartered a four-cabin, 108-foot, carbon fibre sloop that I again built with Philippe Briand. And the biggest boat I chartered was in Turkey – a boat called JAZZ JUNIOR, which was about 115 feet. She had six crew, HAMILTON had five crew and WHIRLWIND had four crew – and while they all had their strengths, what it taught us was that we wanted fewer crew than any of them. It pushed the size of the boat I wanted to use and sail myself down to a level that just two crew could handle.

IY: What do you look for in a charter holiday?
I don’t think there’s any point in a charter yacht that doesn’t have a good tender. And a good tender is not about the size. It’s about how it’s driven, how dry it is and how comfortable it is. And related to that is of course a good crew. You need a safe, happy, non-smoking and experienced crew – and that’s particularly important, because your charter experience starts ashore, in anticipation of reaching the charter yacht. When you get to that tender, the crew should know who you are. They should know what to call you. Do they call you ‘Sir’, ‘Your Highness’, or just ‘Andrew’. They should know how you and your family want to be referenced. They should know what your pleasures and satisfactions are; what you enjoy doing; your sports; your food; your habits.
Good charter companies compile a very in-depth document – and that can be pretty boring for the guests to fill in, so a good charter experience ought to start with your Charter Manager visiting you. Because, as we’re doing in this interview, it’s much nicer having an earnest conversation than being forced to read a form and fill in a load of paperwork.

IY: What kinds of on board toy do you most value?
I like waterskiing; dinghy sailing; scuba diving. I think Seabobs are cool too. I would love to try a Sea Breacher, which is a two-seater submarine that looks like a dolphin; and I’d love to do some heli-skiing from a yacht in Alaska too. I would make sure I took a very experienced guide who knew the mountains well because avalanches are always a danger, but that would be great. And I’d love to have the ability to fly from a boat – either by helicopter or by small seaplane. The idea of saying ‘Let’s fly to the top of the mountain and have a barbecue as the sun goes down’ – that’s a pretty cool thing. Take the chairs up in the helicopter; come back and take up the chef. Then you take up the guests and wow – when they arrive they’ve got this event laid on for them at the top of a mountain.

IY: What about yacht-based entertainments?
On the boat itself, I love a good cinema. When you party all day, you can be pretty tired at night so a movie cinema is great. A good music system for some dancing is also important. If you’ve got a bunch of friends on one, two or three boats, all cruising together, there’s a lot of fun to be had after dinner if you want to get partying. And dancing and music is what a holiday’s all about. After all, you don’t go to St Tropez without going to the nightclub and you don’t go to Monaco on a yacht without going to Jimmy’z.

IY: So what has been your most memorable charter experience?
I was sailing upwind on JAZZ JUNIOR, helming her myself, full main. She was a sloop. We were doing about 11 knots upwind, with water down the side-deck. Everyone was laughing; everyone was happy; but I felt so exhilarated at the opportunity to sail such a big boat.

IY: What’s your favourite charter destination?
Well we’re closely involved with Imperial in supporting the Blue Marine Foundation by means of the London-to-Monaco Bike Challenge. The idea is to raise money to create marine reserves, so I’ve just got back from cruising the Sicilian Aeolian Islands, which is one of the key regions we’re looking at. The reserve has not been initiated yet but plainly, it remains essential to make it happen because I saw virtually no fish. Having said that, it really is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s almost magical because the islands are all volcanoes – and hiking up Stromboli from our boat and ending up at about ten o’clock at night in the dark at the top of the volcano’s bowl, seeing it literally exploding beneath us, with lava pouring out and rocks firing into the sky. That was magic. It wasn’t human. It wasn’t contrived. It was unmade. But it was the true magic of the world.

IY: What’s your favourite charter season?
I’ve swum with seals in the Sicily Isles, with two wetsuits on and a mask and hood. That lasted about 15 minutes but I wasn’t prepared to be in the water any longer than that. I’m definitely a hot water man. My pool at home is between 30 and 32 degrees and the swimming in the Aeolian Islands in September is about 31 degrees, so that’s perfect. I think warm water really helps make a great charter holiday.

IY: What kinds of design features do you expect to see on charter yachts over the next decade or so?
Glass is probably the future of yacht design and engineering. I think you have to really look at your yacht and think about where the windows need to be; work out when you want to look at an external view and when you want to look at each other. We’ve already designed a yacht with windows in the cinema and people have queried that. But if you have a 110-inch daylight flatscreen, you can watch the sport in the afternoon or the Grand Prix in Malaysia at ten in the morning – and come the evening, there is a full screen and a projector. That sort of thing is very cool. We are currently designing two or three yachts with a significant amount more glass than we’ve ever used before, so I certainly expect to see a greater variety of views on yachts of the future.

Read the latest digital edition or ask for your personal hard copy: the finest selection of superyachts for charter!

Dive into Italy's most secret treasures: read our itinerary between Sicily and Aeolian Islands here

Our next superyacht project together with Andrew Winch will be a true Landmark in our industry. Read more here.

As active member of the foundation, Imperial actively supports marine preservation projects from BLUE. Read more here.

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