Owners are now requesting isolation rooms to be built on board their new-build boats, superyacht designer Andrew Winch has said.
In episode four of our lockdown video series “At Home with BOAT”, _BOAT Internationa_l editor Stewart Campbell catches up with the founder of Winch Design who finds himself unusually spending time at his Surrey home. In the latest episode he reflects back on the studio’s first motor yacht project and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry.
The superyacht industry has seen a number of changes due to the coronavirus pandemic, with shipyards like Feadship, Nobiskrug and Heesen having to work 24/7, introducing shift work to safeguard employees. Elsewhere crews are spending lockdown on board.
But at the same time, the crisis has spurred new demands from owners too, with requests for isolation rooms on board their new-builds. “One of the questions we’ve had from clients is ‘can you fit a medical bay into our boat?'”, Winch said. “It's an interesting change. They still want the gym, but they want an isolation room with separate air conditioning as well.”
In the episode, he also reflects on a similar period of crisis during the recession in 1990. Back then the studio was only designing sailing yachts, and he believed the period taught him an important lesson. “I appreciated then that the motor yacht market is much bigger, and if we couldn’t find ourselves a motor yacht project we were not going to survive.” They ended up winning the contract for the studio’s first motor yacht – the 49 metre Feadship White Rabbit. “From there our motor yacht business really took off.”
Offering words of encouragement, Winch said that despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, he believes this period of uncertainty provides an opportunity to “think outside the box.”
While the working environment has certainly changed, it’s still business as usual for the design studio. “We’re still working to the same deadlines to make sure we deliver the drawing packages to the shipyards, so they can have no delay from us”, he said.
Currently on the books is a 27 metre sailing yacht designed by Bill Tripp, a Jeanneau 64, and a Boeing Dreamliner 787 which he likens the design process to that of a 90 metre motor yacht. Winch also hinted at a new 42 metre sailing yacht project in the works with Ron Holland, featuring “a lovely sheer line, a lot of camber and a schooner rig."
After the lockdown has been lifted, Winch hopes to head to Athens to meet his Jeanneau 64 named Polar Bear. On the itinerary: Hydra, Spetsis and the Corinth Canal.