Where luxury is timeless, where décor is discerningly balanced, attention to natural materials is a matter of taste, and all this is combined with state-of-the-art technological novelties and modern instruments, where care and attention is dedicated to a yacht’s environmental impact, there you have this 50 metre Royal Huisman designed to sail the world.
Elfje’s owner wanted a boat that could cope with any and every latitude, from the equator to the Antarctic. This is why the design team have rebranded it “NextGEN”, or future generation yacht, also to underline the immense commitment to innovation, environmental sustainability and efficiency in terms of energy consumption. For the purpose of sailing all manner of seas, the first thing to do was design a balanced hull that can cope with all conditions, then to add suitably sized fuel tanks and enough space for provisions and operative resources. Lastly, all systems needed to be relatively simple and above all totally trustworthy, so as to be able to use the yacht in places without any kind of assistance to hand. All this without forgetting performance under sail, another of the owner’s explicit requests, and brilliantly confirmed during this year’s Barths Bucket, where at its debut Elfje already made the podium.
“We did six months research on hull design alone,” says naval architect André Hoek, “and it’s not often that one has this kind of opportunity before you start to actually design a yacht. Using Computational Fluid Dynamics software (CFD), we developed five different shapes, with different prismatic coefficients and volumes distributed in various ways, but all based on the same waterline length, so as to understand differences in terms of performance and resistance. On the basis of the results we then built 20 foot models of the best designs, which we then tank tested in Holland.” The shape we finally chose is relatively deep, with a V shaped bow section so as to avoid the boat burying its nose in a head sea. So as to improve stability and performance, the yacht has been fitted with a T shaped hydraulically managed lifting keel, with bulb and trim tab. The trim tab was specifically chosen so as to be able to increase the keel blade’s efficiency and balance to best effect the ketch rig. “Given the yard’s competence and experience, we knew we could do just about anything”, explains project director Jeremy Pochman.
This Royal Huisman built 50 metre is designed to traditional canons of beauty, based on the owner’s none too banal request, whose mind was set on the idea of a traditional pilot cutter. The well-proportioned lines, the hull’s soft contours and pastel grey colour, that acquires nuances of blue when it reflects the sea, underline the yacht’s elegance. The sense of freedom one has when walking around the deck is fantastic. The designers have paid special attention to containing deck structures so as not to obstruct the view of the sea. The deckhouse is designed so as to confer an overall sensation of lightness. There are no fixed biminis, so as not to detract from the sense of classical simplicity and clean deck layout. The main cockpit has a large central table the ends of which fold down, suitable for up to eight people, surrounded by four L shaped divans. A second cockpit further aft gives access to the owner’s cabin, so as to provide a secluded dining facility and sunbathing area.
A carbon fibre hatch at the bow conceals the main tender, a 5.8 metre Novurania with deep V hull. The cavity doubles as an ample seating area with view of the bow. All hatches are flush. Worthy of note are the stainless steel fittings that are electro-polished and the teak dressed carbon fibre steering console. For access to the sea there is a lateral bathing platform inserted into the hull, where there is also a Lloyd’s certified hatch that accesses the SCUBA diving gear storage area.
Elfje’s steering gear is mechanical and free of all electric circuitry. Working together with Edson Marine, the yard has developed a sophisticated engineering approach that makes the helm feel like one on a small boat whilst managing a human’s strength so as to allow perfect control of a 234-ton hull. The yacht’s anchor tackle is hidden in the underside of the hull, and is designed in such a way as to be invisible without loosing efficiency.
The ketch rig includes a 433 m2 main, a 257 m2 mizzen and a 414 m2 jib. Very elegantly, the roller-furling systems for the headsails are hidden away in the bowsprit. For sailing off the wind the yacht carries a code 0, and asymmetric gennaker and spinnaker. The sails are by Doyle Sails NZ.
The interior design team at Redman Whiteley Dixon and Pod Interior Style was asked to pay special attention to the aspect of sustainability when choosing materials. The idea was to create an environment with a natural flavour and a dash of tradition. The choice thus fell upon European walnut to be combined with trimmings in pale oak, which has been naturally whitened and then polished with citrus scented wax. The furniture has been enhanced with wood, glass, mother of pearl and leather inserts. A combination of silk, linen, velvet and cashmere was instead used for fabrics throughout the yacht, alternating subtle differences in the weave and structure in each cabin. This look reflects the yacht’s overall style and gives a sense of precision and elegance together with a sense of naturalness.
Looking at the layout, the stern is dedicated to the owner. The private deckhouse acts as a living room area and gives access to the suite. So as to be also easily accessed from the outside the large owner’s bathroom is placed between the deckhouse and the cabin. Natural light was a priority for the owner and so all cabins have generous access to direct light. One highly special feature is also in the owner’s suite. It’s a small glass “oculus” table, placed in front a divan near the entrance, and which shows what’s going on in the sea under the yacht through an aperture in the hull. During the day it catches reflections of the sunrays that hit the sea, for a unique and ever changing effect. A slightly inclined corridor leads to the two guest cabins, one with double bed and one with twins, and then on to the main deckhouse, which is directly linked to the cockpit and includes a large living room area with view of the sea. A curved staircase links it to the main living room-dining room area below, which it partially hides. The living room and dining room are partly separated by the trunk for the lifting keel.
By carefully balancing the size of the various interior volumes the yard has been able to maximize the efficiency and ergonomics of the space below deck. For example, the layout of the galley has been designed to offer great freedom of movement thanks to the central aisle. It is linked directly to the main dining area by a decorated, opening panel, which can also act as a breakfast counter. Beyond the saloon area is a fourth cabin with a small double bed. Access to the crew’s quarters forward is through the galley. They include a dining area, one cabin with double bed for the captain and two cabins, with two bunk beds apiece, each with its own bathroom.
Plant architecture was developed by the Research and Development team at Royal Huisman together with Whisper Power. The heart of the boat combines a Whisper Power HyGen 50 generator, variable speed generators, fast and flexible hydraulic and electric power systems, and ‘intelligent’ lithium battery banks. Such a system offers both efficiency and ample capacity. The variable speed generators are also quieter, but above all burn up to 10% less fuel because they can work at lower revs and still supply the effective power needed. All systems were tested for a year, simulating all possibilities, before being fitted aboard. Thanks to a careful study of the acoustics, noise levels are very low also when the air-conditioning is on and the generators are running, whilst the boat is at anchor.
For further information: Royal Huisman
Text by Roberto Neglia – Photos by Cory Silken, Ray Main