History of Flying Eagle
Xiong Zhangyou was a carpenter for a boat building company in Southern China. He was ambitious but at age 38 he realised it was now or never to fulfil his dream of owning his own company.
The year was 1985 and racing boats were no longer made from wood but from composite materials. A meeting of the family was called and with their backing he started his own boat building company, Hangzhou Flying Eagle Boat Company, building racing boats under the brand name Wudi, (Invincible).
Zhangyou, (Western name John), set out to build a high-tech boat and he looked for workers with the required skill levels and desire to build the best boats in China. Their first boat was completed in March 1986 and one month later won a National event beating five foreign imported boats.
Over the next three years Wudi boats built a reputation in China and showed the Chinese people you did not have to look abroad for a quality racing boat.
In 1989, John embarked on a 2-year joint R&D venture with The Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials. During this time, object-oriented analysis and design technologies in material composition and production techniques were refined and developed. The progressive evolvement of this technology is the basis of some of the best manufactured and performing rowing shells today.
The first breakthrough into the International market happened in 1990 when Wudi were appointed official boat supplier for the Asian Games.
Several years passed and the Wudi Brand went from Strength to strength and in 1994 John decided to step onto the World stage and exhibited his boats at the FISA World Championship in the USA. Here, John met Klaus Filter, then the Material Commission Chairman at FISA. The two men become friends and Klaus Filter agreed to assist in developing a new boat for Flying Eagle. In return, Flying Eagle supported FISA to supply affordable boats to developing countries. Working in partnership with Flying Eagle, Klaus Filter helped the company establish a long-term strategy with the aim to become the leading rowing boat manufacturer. A Research & Development centre was established within the company and US $ 3.8 million was invested in proprietary moulding technologies.
The workshop under the guidance of Klaus refined both production and the quality of the product until in 1998 at the FISA World Championships in Cologne, the Ukraine women won a gold medal in a Wudi coxless four.
Interest in the Wudi boats was spreading and a network of distributors was set up in different countries, including the United States. In 2003 Howard Winklevoss who had bought the Quantum Boat company approached John with a proposition. Quantum were building boats using the latest high-tech processes and materials. However, they were a small company and it would take years and massive investment to become a major boat supplier. Howard proposed that he brought his high-tech processes to China where there was scope to produce high volume. The Wintech brand was established for the international market to sit alongside Wudi.
Also, in 2003 Flying Eagle won the contract to Supply boat for the Olympics in Athens, a contract they won for four consecutive Olympics, Beijing, London and Rio.
Wintech acquired King Racing shells in 2009. This hull shape was specifically designed for the US college market under the design and engineering leadership of Graeme King. The King 8 became the boat of choice for the ivy league.
Sino Eagle Yacht was founded in 2008 as a Joint Venture with Robinson & Caine, a boat manufacturer from South Africa. Due to the world economy crisis in 2009. the SA company had to pull back and focus on their manufacturing plant in Cape Town.
John decided to carry on alone having acquired the shares of Robinson and Caine. In 2012 the Aquila brand was launched building power catamarans. Sino Eagle Yacht is currently building 130units per year in their state of the art, 150,000 sq m factory.
In 2009 John launched Stellar kayaks and Surf Skis completing a portfolio of high-tech, high quality products.
In response to growing concerns over the environment, Flying Eagle took the decision to make the whole process of boat production environmentally friendly. A multimillion-dollar investment was made to install closed circuit air and water filtration systems. In addition, 49,000sq,m of solar panels have been installed, making the factory totally self-sustainable. This resulted in Flying Eagle being the only boat builder in the world to be nominated by FISA for a sustainability award.
Development continues at a pace and following changes observed at the Rio Olympics, Wintech have brought out their FLX range which are the fastest racing boats ever produced. In addition, Wintech have successfully completed the development of their bladder moulded boat which combines reduced waste and higher performance.