Andrew Lechte’s name is deservedly familiar to many in the sailing industry. Over his long career he has worked as a sail designer and logistics lead on some of the world’s highest profile yacht racing campaigns including several America’s Cups, Olympics and Volvo Ocean Races, just to name a few.
Raised in Melbourne, Andrew’s passion for sailing started at a young age, sailing alongside his father in the Mirror class on Albert Park Lake. Andrew’s father, an office worker by day, enjoyed tinkering with their boat in his downtime to make it go faster.
Although Andrew cherished the weekends sailing in the Mirror class alongside his father, he had dreams of the pair sailing a variety of boats and classes. That is when the father son duo decided to buy a Minnow class kit boat (a local Australian junior class) which they built and rigged together, progressing to a Sabre (another local ply-construction class) which resulted in Andrew winning the national and state championships at the tender age of 16.
It was during his time competing in the Sabre class that Andrew started dabbling in sail design and sail-making “I re-cut the luff curve a few times and did work experience in the local sail loft in Melbourne, progressing to skiff moths (pre-foiling) and 14-foot skiffs”. By this stage, Andrew was working in his local sail loft full-time, designing and building his own sails.
When Andrew was 22, he travelled to Japan on a working holiday visa, with his skiff moth in tow. He spent a year working and sailing with Bethwaite dinghy importer Taka Otani before joining the team at Diamond Sails Japan. It was during his time at Diamond Sails that Andrew got his first taste working on high level yacht racing campaigns like the America’s Cup. “Diamond Sails secured the tender for building sails for the Japanese America's Cup Challenger 'Nippon Challenge' where I worked as a sailmaker in 1992, assistant designer in 1995 and as a sail designer in 2000.”
From here, Andrew’s international career went from strength to strength, working on a range of international campaigns including the 470 race campaign with Melbourne dinghy sailor Gary McLennan before a European warm-up then on to the World Championships in Japan. This opened the door for Andrew to work in Europe in the Diamond Denmark loft where he worked on the sail designs alongside the Swedish ASSA ABLOY team for the 2002 Volvo Ocean Race campaign and the 2003 Swedish America’s Cup team. From there, he joined the 2007 French America’s Cup team 'AREVA', followed by the Spanish Telefonica Volvo Ocean Race team. By this stage, Andrew’s skills were being out to good use not only as a sail designer but also in more technical roles within race campaigns, particularly in the one-design arena.
Andrew’s last Volvo Ocean Race campaign as co-designer for New Zealand’s 2012 ‘CAMPER ETNZ’ was a particular career highlight “It was a really fun project and the most professional syndicate that I had been involved with. I learned more about the big picture of performance during this campaign than any previously.”
Fast forward to 2019, back on Australian soil, Andrew found himself particularly enjoying working on smaller boats in the One Design space where he could be a part of the entire process from customer brief, design to build and performance refinement “I love working with a client to understand their needs, designing a sail, building it and then assessing its performance.”
A shared passion for sail design and software development along with wanting to work on the end-to-end design process is what attracted him to Doyle Sails, joining the world-renowned team in 2019 “I have been involved in some amazing and exciting sail design projects over the years and had been watching the Doyle Sails business grow in profile and technical excellence. One of my core skills is rig and sail modelling and with my previous work, the software simply could not model some critical features of both modern and traditional rigs. Doyle Sails has been at the leading edge of sail technology for some time now and the company is full of innovative people in every area of the business whether it is on the floor, in the design room or working the STRATIS sail tech machinery which is constantly evolving. Doyle has some great partnerships with other innovators in the marine industry and I get to work with them which is satisfying my thirst for knowledge and shaping my skills for the future.”
Our new Doyle Sails 2020 International Moth range is an iteration of the very successful Doyle sails used at the Moth World Championships in 2019. Our team remains consistent with world-class Doyle One Design Sail Designer Andrew Lechte and class leaders Kyle Langford and Tom Johnson leading the charge on innovation.