The Classic Winch Company isn't just another factory producing standard, off-the-rack gear for yachts. We are passionate lovers of classic boats who are dedicated to designing and producing custom-made winches that fit the design period of a yacht. A winch on a yacht from 1908 will have a certain elegant capstan-look with a rounded top and will certainly not be self-tailing. A winch for a yacht from the 1930's will have a more industrial look with a narrower drum and preferably not, but possibly, self-tailing.
In my eyes the winches on a well maintained or properly restored classic yacht are the finishing touch of the project. Paint and varnish may catch your eye at a first glance but modern or badly proportioned winches will nullify the effect in an instant. Getting it right is our aim.
Restoring or building a classic yacht is a thing of passion. The final result is a combination of many factors that all have to blend together harmoniously. All too often I see compromises being made in a restoration, in the creation of a replica or even simply during the ongoing process of maintenance and so-called upgrading of a classic boat.
After years of research and sparing no expense in carefully following all possible aspects of bringing a yacht back to her original form the project is finally nearly done and then, in many cases as an afterthought, the winches are ordered. Sometimes not even as an afterthought but a conscious, totally incorrect choice.
On one occasion I remember having followed the restoration of a beautiful 6mR over a period of 2 years. When she was nearly ready for her launch, I stood by the yacht with the owner admiring her magnificent finish and pure clean decks. Two workers from the yard arrived with a pallet load of small, labelled boxes. Using cordless drills and stainless-steel screws they then proceeded to stick a mass of modern, red and black deck-fittings, self-tailing winches with black plastic tops, roller-bearinged blocks and sheaves and a battery a jam-cleats around the cockpit. In one foul sweep the beautiful result of a painstaking restoration was destroyed.
The owner was pleased with the result as the boat was intended to be raced competitively and once more the argument was incorrectly and inappropriately used: “If Herreshoff had carbon he would have used it.” Yes, he would have but then boats would have looked completely different as well and would we have loved their shape as much as we do now?
At the Classic Winch Company, we would like to be able to make it possible for discerning owners to get it right. Although as a business model we would love to sell hundreds of winches, that is not our aim. Our sole wish is to produce winches that look beautiful and function even better.
A quality product that costs more than the mainstream winches available but that hopefully will win its place in the market thanks to our engineering expertise, thoroughly researched historical knowledge and experience.
Initially when I restarted the winch production in 2017 the winches were made at a CNC facility in Germany. Sadly due to production and quality issues that did not work out.
In the course of 2018 though I had the extreme luck of chancing on Hans Sturm, the engineer who originally designed the winches when Meissner started in Hellevoetsluis and later in Middelburg. At the time Meissner pioneered lightweight, aluminium racing winches which met with immediate success on a number of offshore racing yachts as well as many cruising yachts. In 1996 Hans started his own CNC facility and, besides his continued design work, from then on, he was also responsible for the production of thousands of winches until Meissner was sold to the multi-national Holmatro in 2004. Most of the production moved to Holmatro’s own factory although Hans continued to do CNC work for Holmatro as well. He then proceeded to expand his company into a booming business with a staff of 15 experienced engineers and among others, 14 state of the art CNC machines. (www.sturmmach.nl). The factory is located in Serooskerke in the south of Holland near the city of Middelburg.
This chance meeting between Hans and Ron Valent meant the renewed cooperation between these two innovative thinkers who had worked together so successfully between 1999 and 2004 at Meissner. The range of classic winches for which Meissner became so well-known and which today can still be found on many of the largest and most beautiful yachts sailing the classic circuit was in part thanks to this cooperation.
With this facility we now have the resources to cater for a much wider range of products and also increase volume without compromising on quality. We use the latest technology available to this industry. Individual parts are precision cut from the highest possible grade steel, aluminium or nickel aluminium bronze. Our own 5-axial CNC machines can machine the most complicated forms with the greatest possible precision.
The Classic Winch Factory. De Padwei 16, 4353RV Serooskerke. www.sturmmach.nl