YachtTalk Special 4: Sparta design special with Winch Design

At 67 metres with an internal volume of approximately 1,200 gross tons, Project Sparta is Heesen’s largest steel-hulled displacement motor yacht to date. In the fourth episode of Heesen’s YachtTalk Specials, host Charlotte Kan heads to Barnes in London to catch up with Winch Design duo Jim Dixon, Director of Yachts and James Russell, Associate, Yacht Exteriors. They reveal how Sparta’s sleek exterior lines immediately impressed her owner when the concept was first unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show in 2018.

Sculpture on the sea
Project Sparta is the latest in a long line of collaborations between Heesen and Winch Design, but it’s also one of the most complex designs. Sparta began life as yacht concept Avanti, aside from a few personalised touches, the high-performance sporty design remains true to the original drawings penned by Russell.

“Project Sparta is alive,” says Dixon. “It’s a very lithe and athletic looking boat. It’s a sculpture on the sea and will look very nice on the water. I think one of the factors that attracted the owner from the beginning was how immediately recognisable the design is, and the emotional connection that resulted from that.”

Russell, part of the Yacht Exteriors team at Winch, describes how Heesen requested a yacht concept that would retain the Heesen DNA with a low profile, sporty and elegant lines: “We spent time developing concepts together with Mark Cavendish in 2017, and the Avanti concept was born out of that collaboration. We then took that forward to a fully complete, advanced concept which was released at Monaco in 2018. And the end result of all that work is Project Sparta.

The lifestyle factor
A central theme to Project Sparta’s design is how it centres around the lifestyle of the owners and their family. “It’s very much a family boat with the interior and exterior oriented around their lifestyle,” explains Dixon. “A key signature is the transom beach, which is low to the water and perfect for enjoying life in and next to the sea.”

Inside, the general arrangement has two separate owner’s suites contained on a private owner’s deck, while two VIP cabins forward on the main deck are dedicated to the children.

“We’ve included a sliding partition that separates the two cabins from each other, but when drawn back also allows for a huge play area,” adds Dixon.

Informed input
Project Sparta is the longest steel yacht undertaken by Heesen to date. Arno de Wit, Project Coordinator at Heesen, joined the conversation by video link to discuss the yacht’s main features.

“Sparta has been specially designed with the owners in mind, and this has resulted in some interesting elements,” he says. “The lower deck, which is typically reserved for guest cabins, is fully occupied by an onboard spa, with a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and gym. It’s a very nice feature indeed.”

Choosing to have the spa, gym and galley grouped together on the lower deck did create some technical obstacles, he adds. “All the pipe work and electrical routings that lead out of the engine room need to pass through this guest-oriented area. So, that was a challenging hurdle for the engineering department to navigate.”

Another unique feature is Sparta’s inverted bow. During tank testing, discussions were had about whether to add a spray rail to mitigate any water spray when the yacht is underway. “It turned out that with a spray rail, water actually travelled further, reaching as far as the wheelhouse windows. So the decision was made to keep the bow design clean and minimal.”

Sparta is soon to celebrate the landmark joining of her hull and superstructure, due to take place in Oss later this year. She will be delivered to her owners mid-2023.

Nature inside and out
Russell highlights the main deck aft as one of the key features of the yacht: “Incorporating a flush swimming pool with a beach terrace, it affords unobstructed views from the back of the yacht.”

He also spotlights the second living area afforded on the sundeck and the raised pilothouse design, which helps to again achieve unobstructed views while maintaining a low and elegant profile.

“The sundeck is magnificent,” adds Dixon. “It can be completely open when the weather is sunny or protected by a closed roof and sides when the weather is inclement. It makes it a very usable space.

An evolution of design is present in the interior, too, exemplified by the staircase that uses elements from fire and water. “The staircase will tell a story in carved timber as it runs down all three decks, so that will be a wonderful centrepiece when complete,” says Dixon.

Winch has elected to use a variety of materials sourced specifically for Sparta to complement the calm and softened colour scheme. “The aim is to inject elements of nature inside and out, such as the use of banana leaf in the dining room,” says Dixon.

Click here to watch the full episode

Pressing question
In the previous episode of YachtTalk Specials, Ben Harrison of Harrison Eidsgaard asked Dixon and Russell the following question: “In today’s age, what do you find the most challenging aspect of the yacht design process?”

Dixon replies: “I think the challenge is the same now as it was when we used to draw things by hand, and that is gaining the trust of the client. As everything is done today using computer renderings, it’s so realistic that we’re not expecting the client to really use their imagination as they needed to do when presented with pencil-drawn visuals. But I think we manage to gain their trust very well.”

The next instalment of YachtTalk Specials will be at the British brokerage house Fraser Yachts and see Charlotte Kan in conversation with sales broker Andrew Bond.

When invited to ask Bond one pressing question, Dixon responded: “Fraser and Heesen have enjoyed a long and productive relationship together. What do you think Fraser buyers would expect now from Heesen and its future collaborators?”

Tune in to find out!




Sara Gioanola   PR & Press Office Manager
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