2 purists, sailing back in time

SEROOSKERKE – In yacht building, classic winch makers are very thin on the ground. Which makes Hans Stürm and Ron Valent so very unique. In their Classic Winch Company, these 2 nautical purists make a stand for true craftmanship building winches that match the age and look of old yachts, but with state of the art insides.

From their hands may come a winch for a yacht built in, say, 1908. It will have that charming capstan-look and rounded top, but it won’t be self-tailing. A spanking new winch for a 1930s yacht will look more industrial, have a narrower drum and just might be self-tailing.

Classic craftmanship

There is an inescapable logic to Classic Winch Company’s location. In the Netherlands, classic yachting is neither a fad nor a niche activity. It’s a lifestyle. The country boasts world class yards making large, classic, performance sailing yachts and has a “brown fleet” of many hundreds of sail and motor-powered classics of all lengths and ages.

Valent, offshore sailor/sports journalist, and winch engineer Stürm spent 2 decades making and marketing Meissner and Holmatro winches. They make classic look winches “with a modern interior,” says Valent.

“The drums are made of a nickel-aluminum-bronze alloy, the frame of anodized aircraft-grade aluminum and the gears of high-quality stainless steel,” he says.
“The bottom plate comes in one piece for extra support. Any penetrating water drains away from under the gears. The winches are designed in a way that make all parts easily accessible.”

Coffee grinder

To Stürm, restoring or building a classic yacht winch is “a thing of passion.” But often, he adds, he sees poor compromises leading to out-of-place or badly proportioned winches. The Classic Winch Company works on recreating classic winches built from nearly 100 years ago until the 1960s. A special 2019 project was the delivery of 15 massive deck winches for a 4-masted bark.

And a particular source of pride at Classic Winch Company was an order this year from Argentine naval architect German Frers to build winches for his classic Recluta. In addition to one-offs, Classic Winch Company offers 4 standard models: Self-tailing, Masterpiece, Fairlie and Meter Class.