Henry Hawkins

CEO, Baltic Yachts

UK national, Henry Hawkins, has had a varied upbringing. He was born in Nassau, Bahamas, but says, “I grew up all over the place following my parents which saw us live in some amazing places including Bermuda, Cyprus, Seychelles and latterly within Southern Africa.” He was educated in the UK and completed university there before setting off to enjoy a year out…which never ended. He received his first commercial tickets in South Africa while working for a sailing school. Then after delivering a catamaran to the Caribbean, he fell in to the superyacht sailing world in the mid 90s. His first captain’s job was on an Ocean 80 called Yanneke. Thereafter, he met Prof. Näder and became his captain on the Baltic 97 Pink Gin IV. He considers himself hugely fortunate to have arrived in yachting world when it was still very much an unregulated adventure. “Still…I have benefited as the industry has grown rapidly requiring not only greater regulation, but also offering career paths that did not exist,” Hawkins has stayed within the Baltic, community, but instead of being a captain, he is now CEO of the company.


How did you get your start in the yachting industry?
After finishing university in the UK, I had an invitation to join a small motoryacht as crew from Cape Town to the Seychelles. The delivery fell through but by then I was already in Botswana. I took a Greyhound bus to Durban and ended up working for a small sail training school.  A year later, I made a crossing to the Caribbean where I discovered you could get paid to sail!


Which project or accomplishment do you consider to be the most significant in your career?
The most significant accomplishment would have to be the construction and launch of Pink Gin VI —it was the culmination of many years of planning, and more importantly, learning and understanding what the client wanted.


What is your biggest challenge?
Encouraging the younger generations to come sailing.


If you could choose one location for your next travel adventure, where would you go?
I would love to go to Alaska, because of its sheer scale and the wildlife.  Alaska has been on my bucket list as long as I can remember.


What is your favorite part of your job? Why?
I love when clients visit the yard in Finland. I enjoy seeing the interaction between our boat builders, engineers and our clients—challenges made, challenges met and always growing respect.


Who has influenced you the most?
Professor Nader has influenced me the most.  ( Prof. Hans Georg Nader is the majority shareholder of Baltic Yachts). I have learned a lot from him from—from my early days of sailing for him as his captain to now, working within Baltic Yachts. With him, the next challenge is always just around the corner.


What is the most effective daily habit you possess?
I find having a plan before reading e-mails allows me to focus on important tasks of the day.


Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration on the shop floor when it comes to boat building. But then again, some of the best ideas come from the unlikeliest places.


What advice do you have for the next generation?

Talk to people. The answers are not all on the Internet.

What do you see are upcoming trends in the industry?
Battery technology is changing the way we operate boats.


How do you manage life’s balance?
Not well, if you ask my family!

Where are you the happiest? Why?
At home with the family. I spend a lot of time on the road and going home never fails to excite me.


What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve gotten? If you decide to do something, do it properly. What does it mean to you to be an ISS judge? It’s an honour to be invited to join the panel.