Royal Huisman’s innovative knack yields an impressive line-up of projects

VOLLENHOVE – Next to the hulking outline of Royal Huisman Project 404 stands a big cylindrical tank full of water, pipes and valves. “With this,” says Jurjen van ‘t Verlaat, the yard’s spokesman, “we expose onboard systems to similar water pressures like those in open waters. That’s how we monitor generators and onboard systems before launching. Adjustments are more easily made in the build hall than when the boat is already sailing.”

That tank is but one example of the roles that innovation and efficiency play at Royal Huisman, the venerable Dutch maker of complex luxury yachts. The yard identifies five innovation themes: Sustainability, Featherlight, User Experience, Sailing Systems and Tools  & Methods.

“Sometimes our innovations are project-driven, sometimes customer-driven,” says van ‘t  Verlaat. “Or even site-driven, in the case of new production methods.”

Ethereal – photo Franco Pace

The yard’s sustainability drive has long been in evidence. In 2008, the yard built Ethereal, the world’s first hybrid superyacht. It converted other yachts from diesel to hybrid propulsion. Motor yacht Phi, launched last year, is another energy-efficient project designed by Cor de Rover, with a sophisticated hull by Van  Oossanen Naval Architects.

The term ‘Featherlight’ covers light structures and low noise levels. Weight is saved if honeycomb is used as the core of paneling. Aluminum hulls and carbon bulkheads are used where possible. Or a superstructure is built in carbon. Featherlight is a design and engineering method that includes a purpose-driven effort to make the yacht as light as possible.

Royal Huisman doles out ‘user experience’ when it hands the client an app so he can follow the build project remotely.

Wing 100
Wing 100

At Royal Huisman, sailing systems are an area of active innovation. With Artemis Technologies and its sister company Rondal, Royal Huisman has been experimenting with a wing sail to see how such a sale system can work on super sailing and motor yachts.

For one of its current projects, Rondal has developed carbon electric winches that have a faster response time than hydraulic ones and are lighter. Rondal works on innovative solutions elsewhere. It built sliding doors for motor yacht Phi that open individually, preventing loss of cooled inside air. There is no raised water barrier but a grate and drip tray that traps water washing over the deck.

Royal Huisman also pursues innovation through concurrent engineering, a method of developing products in which different stages run simultaneously, not consecutively. Engineers from other disciplines jointly look at a technical challenge from different angles. Construction is divided into stages and cannot start the next stage until all parties have signed off the previous one.

Royal Huisman injects its innovations into all of its build or refit projects. It is currently working on the following:

Number 404: a sloop-rigged, high-performance Alustra aluminum sailing yacht. The 59.7-meter (196-ft) design is by Malcolm McKeon Yacht Design. The French Studio Liaigre does interior design. The hull features a receding bow and a wide stern. There is also a beach club. An eye-catching detail: the midship lazaret and doors in the flanks for storing water toys. The superstructure is built of carbon. The underwater ship features a lifting keel, double rudders and two electric pods with thrusters.

Project 405: a 46.82m (154ft) is an aluminum cruiser sloop. Reichel/Pugh did the naval architecture, and Nauta Design the exterior and interior.  The yacht is an appealing example of the Featherlight principle. The calculation of the design yielded a weight reduction of 11%. Important because the owner wants to race and also circumnavigate the world. Aluminum is less vulnerable and has a lower noise level.

52m sport fisher
52m sport fisher

Project 406: a 52m (171ft) mega sport fishing yacht, designed by Vripack Yacht Design. Such a significant weight reduction was realized. Two engines sufficed where three were planned.  Some constructions are glued to help reduce weight.


Project 407: the restoration of the Atlantide, a 37m (122ft) 1930 motor yacht. The work is done with archaeological precision, using original materials.

Project 408: The 56m (212ft) Aquarius owners asked Royal Huisman to add sleeping accommodation. That means lengthening the sailing yacht. Aquarius II will feature a state-of-the-art carbon rig, integrated sail handling from Rondal, structured luff sails, and a retractable keel for optimal stability under racing conditions.

Project 409: Nothing can be said about this project.

Royal Huisman’s 56m Aquarius

Project 410: The 85m (280ft) Frers  Design, with interior design by Wetzels Brown, will be the world’s longest sloop-rigged yacht, ready to sail in a matter of minutes. An Eco-friendly project, too, aiming for structural recyclability and incorporating green energy, quiet operation, and silent mode sailing.

WING 100 is a 100m (330ft) pioneering design. A new category of a superyacht. Equipped with two unstayed, carbon wing masts. Van ’t Verlaat: “It’s a concept … to show we can build a 100m yacht at our yard.”