by Heesen with Winch Design

Introduced at the 2017 Monaco Yacht Show and presented in America at the recent Fort Lauderdale show, this new project from the Dutch shipyard Heesen was designed inside and out by the famous British designer Andrew Winch. Heesen’s new 66-metre vessel is called the Avanti, which we hope to see on the water soon so we will be able to admire its many interesting details, which we describe in this introductory article.

This project brings together a number of aesthetic and functional features that remain faithful both to the designer’s style and the stylistic traits typical of the shipyard. The project is full of features that are worth analysing, so we decided to do just that, together with Andrew Winch. Here is what he had to say during our long, enjoyable interview.

Mr. Winch, can you tell us where the idea of creating the Avanti came from?

It all began when we started discussing it with Mark Cavendish, Heesen’s sales manager. We were talking about what it would be like to have a project that expressed the true essence of the shipyard while also being identifiable as a Winch Design project. We started putting together designs by including features we think are must-haves. We really enjoyed experimenting. In the end, we reached a solution when we decided to have an entire deck for the owner, an idea both of us liked.

We can see that there are solutions, such as having a raised pilothouse…

This solution meant that we were able to manage the upper deck in a completely unique way – not only is it a space entirely for the owner, but it also offers lots of room and unrivalled levels of privacy, not to mention a 180-degree view of the sea from the suite. Really, including the half-bridge allowed us to raise the level of the main deck, which we built with a wide-body structure, characterized by very large and visually striking side windows, especially in the lounge which, in terms of floor space, is comparable to the lounge you would find in an 80-metre vessel.

The profile has a feature typical of your projects, doesn’t it?

That’s true. This is something I wanted to include as a kind of distinguishing mark of our studio. It’s actually one of my favourite features. I’m talking here about the “chain” running down towards the stern, a feature I emphasized by creating an upper border whose function is to cast a shadow. This also allowed us to create the special side windows with that shape which gives a further touch of originality to the profile. All this means that, despite this being a wide body structure, the impression is actually that of a slender profile, which is something we’d been thinking about from day one, even though we were also aiming for comfortable liveability.

If I remember rightly, the use of light and dark colours also serves to express the lines…

Yes, we played around a lot with the colour contrasts created by grey and black, which led to the stylistic features I think really matter for this project, in order to keep faith with the Andrew Winch design tradition but at the same time to reflect the essence of Heesen.

This must have been a very intricate project. How much support did you get from the shipyard’s technical office? Did they ever tell you “this isn’t something that can’t be done”?

The shipyard’s technical office was wonderful. Working together, we were always able to find a way to turn the ideas we wanted to develop into reality. The team is very skilled, and to answer your question, no, I never asked for anything impossible and they never had to stop me, but this is also largely down to their ability to find technically sound solutions.

There are a lot of relaxation areas on the Avanti…

This was one of the driving forces behind the project:  a salon 11 metres wide is more commonly found on larger yachts, then there is the cinema area, relaxation area, sofas, and various open-air areas located throughout the yacht. The matter of relaxation on board this yacht was definitely one of the key parts of this project –  it’s no coincidence that we created a stern with an amazingly wide beach area with a pool and all very close to the level of the sea. But to be able to enjoy the outdoor areas to the fullest, you also have to be able to have them covered or uncovered depending on the time of day and the weather. This is why we carried out a study and included simple yet effective systems that can be used to protect large parts of the outdoor areas with ease, using mobile structures that disappear inside their mountings or into other structures when not in use. This applies as much to the bow as it does to the stern, as well as the sun deck, dining area, and the area with sofas and sunpads on the upper deck aft.

Can I ask why the bow is inverted?

It was simply a stylistic need. If you look at the profile, having an inverted bow is significant for the overall appearance.

Let’s talk about the stern again for a moment, with its large beach area…

This is one of the parts of the project I most enjoyed working on, because the large 1.2-metre-deep pool and the flow that lets you swim for hours, along with lots of space all around you and just a few centimetres from the sea is decidedly thrilling. But I have to say, although this vessel is only 66 metres long it has all the things that larger boats have, including two helicopter landing pads.

The yacht was designed for serious long-distance cruises while also being comfortable, wasn’t it?

That was the idea, yes, to create what is known as a blue water yacht, that’s to say one that can sail very long distances while still offering enough space and privacy, as well as having lots of relaxation areas. The entire thing was designed and created to offer the maximum connection between the boat’s interior and exterior, from bow to stern, and especially on the main deck, where we have a large lounge facing out onto the beach area, almost flush with the sea. This same deck has four guest cabins, each with a double bed and wide openings towards the exterior. For the lower deck, we came up with two different concepts:  one containing a large wellness area with a hammam, Jacuzzi, sauna, day spa, massage room and gym, while the other has a smaller massage room and gym but also has another two double cabins.

Lastly, we noticed that you included a lot of space for the crew.

As I mentioned, this yacht was designed with long periods on board in mind, and the crew, of course, will spend a long time aboard too. That’s why a large part of the lower deck is for them, with nine cabins including a double cabin for the skipper, two single cabins for the officers, and six doubles for the other crew members. Together with these spacious cabins, each of which has its own bathroom, there is a large common area kitted out with sofas and entertainment systems, a large kitchen and laundry room, all served in such a way that they never interfere with the guests’ life on board. Another feature we added to this project is the lift linking all the decks from the lower deck to the sun deck. Still on the service areas, at the bow we included a large garage for two tenders, both big enough to take all the guests ashore at the same time, a limo-tender and an RIB.

As we said at the outset, this is a futuristic project, with many interesting functional and formal features. We had hoped to meet Andrew Winch because although we could see how original the project was, the details he told us about allowed us to really familiarise ourselves with it. As for the interiors, Winch told us that he believes they are able to meet the needs of  the majority of users just as they are, but that he nonetheless included various features for areas that can be used for specific purposes.

We wanted to ask Winch one last thing to round off our interview, and to round off our story too. We asked him how he would describe the Avanti project, and he replied:

“A yacht that is a wave on the sea, highly elegant, a sculpture for the ocean”.


Angelo Colombo


AVANTI 66m technical specifications

LOA66.20 m / 217’19’’ ft
Beam O.A.11.50 m / 37’73’’ ft
LWL66.20 m / 217’19’’ ft
Draught2.40 m / 7’87’’ ft
ProjectWinch Design Ltd
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