Tim Heywood is an award-winning yacht designer who has produced some of the finest and largest yachts on the water. In fact, the list of Heywood’s designs read like a who’s who of yachting, including Al Mirqab, Baton Rouge, Cakewalk, Carinthia VII, Ice, Kogo, Mayan Queen IV, Topaz, and Pelorus.
Here, as part of our Leadership Series, Heywood talks to Megayacht Newss about the way he sees the world of megayachts, and what keeps him enthused about his chosen line of work.
MYN: The first and perhaps most obvious thing about you is the rural setting for your studio location. This is clearly a conscious decision, but can you expand on your reasoning?
TH: We live and work here in Rutland because I realized I did not need to be in London, clients rarely came when we lived there, and certainly many more have come up here in the past five years than ever came to our studio in the Docklands. They can land their helicopter on the lawn or at the landing pad at fabulous hotel just a few miles away if they want to. Good international airports are close by and Heathrow is less than two hours away by car.
MYN: You run a very different organization than some of the larger yacht design houses, yet your name is among the very top. What is it that makes you as a designer different?
TH: I have always worked alone; that’s how we did it in those early days even when I worked for Jon Bannenberg. I have carried on the same way ever since. I love this work. First I create the sketch and then do engineering drawings and finally get to see my creation sail away over the horizon into the sunset.
MYN: Despite the downturn in global finances, many in your line of work are reporting that there is light at the end of the tunnel. What is your view?
TH: The last few years have been extremely interesting in the world of big yachting. We have seen orders placed for extremely large yachts that are redefining the top of the market. Every conceivable requirement of the clients is being catered for in these major projects, and the beauty of these craft, both inside and out, is second to none.
MYN: What is it about today’s market that you find surprising?
TH: The ever-increasing length of these yachts enables the designer to create more sweeping lines, more generous spaces, and more interesting solutions to the design puzzles that each project brings. The tender garages are full of watertoys and uniquely designed tenders for ferrying the owner and guests to and from the island of privacy and tranquility that is the mother ship.
MYN: Are you busy with new projects?
TH: Yes I am, and I would say most designers and yacht builders are now working to maximum capacity to keep up with demand from clients who would prefer to do something creative and productive with their money, rather than to leave it in a bank account earning minute amounts of interest!
MYN: Which of your designs particularly stands out to you in terms of being among the most creative, or even the most fun, and why?
TH: After Pelorus, which is I think a real style icon, Event would be the other yacht that stands out among those I have drawn. She is the first of the Amels Limited Editions 199 yachts. After the success of the 171/ 180 series, Amels asked for a 60-meter version that they would market as a 199. I drew two sketches for them at an early stage of the discussion process. One featured a traditional clipper-shaped bow, and the second design featured an axe bow in a style I have chosen to call a scimitar bow because it is somewhat different to the axe-bow shape they have used with such great effect on the offshore supply boats built at the Damen shipyards. I have watched with great interest how the Sea Axe Fast Yacht Support yachts slice through the water, and my own shaped bow has that same endearing quality. She is certainly one of the most economical in terms of fuel consumption.
MYN: What makes a design fun to work on?
TH: I love working for an owner who knows what he wants. I do not mind if an owner changes his mind so long as he does so because he knows the reasons behind his decision. Clearly owners who want a yacht to use are more fun to work for than those who just want because their neighbor has one.
MYN: Have any of your clients pushed you to go beyond anything you have done before?
TH: It is not so much that they might push me, it is that they might hold me back. But I don’t push beyond what they like. I try and awaken their minds to fresh ideas, and that often gets them to try something more out of the usual. In this studio, usual is not something we do a lot of. Every design is different, and even the Limited Editions designs get varied here and there.
MYN: Do you find working on the super-size megayachts (say, 80 meters and up) easier or harder when compared to “smaller” megayachts?
TH: It can at times be easier to work on a really large yacht because there’s more room literally to be creative. The downside to that is that it can be harder because there is indeed so much more room and space that needs to be filled, remembering always to keep things in proportion. Large yachts the likes of which are built to the new Passenger Yacht Code can become complex because of the more stringent regulations that apply to that class of yacht.
MYN: What are the most exciting developments you have witnessed in yachts in recent times?
TH: The advances in shipbuilding over the last 10 years has been incredible. Retractable balconies, discreet lateral exterior stowage for the yacht’s tenders that owe so much to the cruise ship of today. It means that I am able to draw a sleeker, more stylish system of incorporating a tender, for example, because the shipyard can now tackle that sort of engineering challenge, but it falls away to nothing if a shipyard cannot build what I envisage.