When did you become a boat designer and what was your first real design?
I guess it all began back in 1990 when I bought a rotten old yacht to restore and I discovered I had an ability and a natural understanding of boats. My first real design was the Fliptail, previous to that my designs had been modernised and improved versions of pre-existing designs.
Which designer(s) had the greatest influence on you?
Strangely enough I would have to say Colin Chapman, the designer of Lotus cars. His was a wonderful philosophy. Add lightness and simplify was his mantra and frankly I couldn’t agree more as weight costs, even on boats. That said when it comes to yacht designers then I was always a fan of Fred Shepherd.
How many boat designs have you drawn in total?
Quite a few but only five have seen the light of day although some of these come in different sizes too.
Which of your designs is your best seller, and which is your personal favorite?
If you’re talking Woodenwidget designs then the all new Slidavan is the best seller – it seems to have struck a chord with people. The Foldavan is also extremely popular but if you’re talking boats then it’s the Fliptail 7 without a doubt, it far outsells all the other boat designs. My favorite is the Stasha as it so easy to move about and rows and sails beautifully. Plus, it looks lovely when the sun shines through the hull. It’s the design that looks most like a real boat.
Do you have a design philosophy – certain themes or principles your adhere to?
Oh yes. No one buys anything these days and Woodenwidget wish to encourage people to step outside of their comfort zone and have a go at making something useful because it’s fun! The theme we stick to is one of practicality, lightness and easy use and storage.
What key tips would you give to builders of your designs?
Read the instructions carefully. Believe you can succeed because you can. Our instructions may seem complicated at first but as you become familiar with them it all gets easier.
What do you have on the drawing board now?
A bicycle drawn carriage. Horses are too much hassle so replace them with a pair of electric bicycles allied to a lightweight fully insulated bow top type gypsy caravan using bicycle wheels and suspension. Recapture the romance of slow eco travel.
Foldavan and Slidavan