Berthon’s Hugh Rayner chats with Knut Heiberg-Andersen of Windy Boats
March 12th, 2021
Can you tell us where you are today, what you are planning to do, and how the current pandemic is affecting your super-active normal routine?
“Today is Friday; – starting the day with a cup of coffee at the kitchen office at 07:30 answering emails from Trevor Fenlon and planning the SKYPE meetings of the day. Beautiful weather outside and a good day to walk to my “normal” office.
Today, February 26, 2021 is also, to the day, one year since I visited our HQ and Yard in Sweden. Strange times, but it has worked out very well. Cannot see that we will be back to normal before long, but business is encouraging and I am calm.”
Congratulations on your recent appointment as a consultant for the GMBA (Global Marine Business Association). What do you see as the demands and opportunities in this new role, and are there any specifically Norwegian issues/challenges that you will be focused on?
This is a strong network of industry peers with valuable experience and knowledge of the nautical past and current.
The Norwegian boat industry has a special place in my heart and if I can contribute to the development of our industry, development of boating and use my experience and international network to strengthen our industry, I have made myself available for that.
There are so many unique qualities in the Norwegian and Scandinavian boat industry that our opportunities to succeed internationally are evident. If I can help, I am here.”
You are rightly famous for your sartorial elegance, with a penchant for exciting trouser colours and your trademark spectacles. Can you please tell us which are your favourite trousers, and (having paced the halls and docks of boat shows over 30 years) what are the best shoes to wear as an exhibitor at a boat show?
“I started my red trousers gig in the FJORD-days (mid-late 70s) and realized its success only when Gerard Wainwright of SEALINE copied me. Later I also saw David King in red trousers. I admit it is probably started with my strong wish to be seen amongst the “big boys of our trade”.
My favourite trousers were made of a rough rusty red sail canvass; very cool and looked authentic.
Expensive, but I am almost over it now.
These days I am more versatile; – I surprise my colleagues with blue trousers, green trousers; -yellow trousers. A brave man I am!
Best boat shoes: Dubarry!”
January 2021 saw you rewarded with the Judges Special Award by the panel from the UK’s Motor Boat and Yachting magazine. Not only is this a celebration of your dynamic role at Windy Boats, but seats you at a table amongst the greats of the motor-boating world – Robert and John Braithwaite who started Sunseeker, David King at Princess to name but a few. You must have experienced some epic evenings in company – do any particularly stick in your mind?
“It is probably not fair to the many greats I have met only to mention Robert, John and David, but these were the boys I met for the first time in the late 70-ties. Since then I have had the privilege to meet, work with and compete with so many #1s and they have all motivated me, encouraged me and lifted my spirit and I am all of them for ever thankful.
Just take today; I had Espen Øino on the phone discussing our new project; – I am having a brief SKYPE meeting with Malcolm McKeon on our cooperation and earlier this morning I had the pleasure of offering my advice to a newly started company entering our industry with an attractive electric power-train. And to finish off this Friday and this week, I SKYPE with our CEO, Trevor Fenlon for whom I have the greatest respect and expectations.
What particularly sticks to my mind? Everything sticks to my mind and I am very aware that I have been very lucky.”
You guided Windy Boats through the 1990’s, and have overseen the company’s emergence into the globally-respected boat-building team we see today, with humour, passion and understanding. What do you put your success down to, and if you were to change any decision that you have made in your marine business career, what would that be?
“Please do not ask me to make a judgement of myself. Others can do that!
The success of WINDY is more than a charming smile and red trousers. It is hard work – every day – a bit of smartness – a fair portion of passion ( but not too much as this is a difficult business to succeed in) – being loyal to our heritage yet open to adapt – putting quality first and working with people who share the values of WINDY.
It goes without saying that there are several decisions I should not have made. They seemed right at the time, but were definitely wrong for reasons which I should have seen. One side of me which only few have understood, is that I am a far better boss in difficult times than when everything flows smoothly.
But all in all; – on victory day, lost battles are not counted.”