140 YEARS

Whether industry aficionado, or enthusiastic bystander, the name Royal Huisman needs no introduction...

140 YEARS

Whether industry aficionado, or enthusiastic bystander, the name Royal Huisman needs no introduction...

5 MIN READ

Article from Super Yacht Times – newspaper issue 48, 2024: 

World renowned for the construction of record breaking super sailing and motor yachts, Royal Huisman has built an international reputation on the quality of its vessels. But such excellence doesn’t happen overnight. Founded in 1884 and born from a family heritage of wooden boat building, the story of Royal Huisman’s evolution to award-winning superyacht builder is an extraordinary one. Now celebrating its 140th anniversary, we took a look at some of the shipyard’s most notable milestones, to understand how this historic business has become a symbol of the international perception of Dutch quality, and its vision for the future.

Sea Eagle, launched in 2020. 

A historic legacy
Royal Huisman officially dates its history back to the foundation of a boatyard in Ronduite, the Netherlands in 1884, beginning the familial legacy of boat building, initially with the construction of small wooden work and fishing boats. Situated close to the turbulent Zuiderzee (the inland sea to the north east of Amsterdam which is now the freshwater IJsselmeer), the Huisman’s boat building business was a key part of local life, but as the local fishing industry dwindled, so did the need for the Huisman boats. It was Jan Huisman, alongside his brother Jacob, that eventually made the decision to focus the yard’s energy’s on wooden sailing yachts and by the 1950s, the shipyard had begun to build its reputation on the construction of steel and aluminium vessels.

A pioneer from its earliest origins, the advent of aluminium in the 1960s was a turning point for the yard which innovated with the bending and welding of aluminium for hull construction. By the 1970s, Huisman had moved to its current location in Vollenhove where deeper water access and space heralded the growth of both the company and its yachts. In 1984, on its 100th anniversary, the shipyard was awarded its Royal warrant in recognition of good behaviour including tax paying and the quality of its work, recognising its now international track record for the construction of both large racing yachts and performance cruising yachts.

Now credited with the construction of nearly 200 unique vessels from eight to 90-metres, Royal Huisman has become one of the most productive bespoke builders in the world, and its existing fleet of more than 45 superyachts represents 140 years of knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Today the historic legacy of the shipyard is deeply embedded within its daily operations and is felt by members of the team, many of whom have remained with the company for decades, even generations.

 

“This year the company

has once again evolved

so that its image reflects

both the innovation

that takes place

under its roof,

and its historic lineage.”

Innovation at its heart

With a deeply ingrained ethos of innovation baked into its roots, Royal Huisman has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to developments in yacht construction. The yachts currently in-build alone represent the diversity of the shipyard’s capabilities; the 85-metre New World Sloop that will be the largest single masted yacht in the world when launched in 2026; the 52-metre Project 406, the world’s largest sportfisher motor yacht; and the 65-metre Aquarius II.

A forerunner with the use of aluminium and an early adopter of carbon composite components as early as 1997, the shipyard continues to pioneer today with the development of new construction methods. Most recently, the shipyard developed Featherlight, which utilises a high-grade mix between aluminium and carbon within its hulls and offers weight reductions of up-to 15 percent. Pioneered aboard the recently delivered Nilaya and used within the construction of Project 408, Featherlight rethinks and reduces the use of materials combining the low noise levels offered by aluminium.

Nilaya is the first yacht to feature the patented Featherlight construction method.

 

Not only is the Featherlight method a unique offering within the sector, it has also produced a result that is competitive with carbon composite racing yachts, an unparalleled result for aluminium construction. Regatta performance, though often an aim, is not the only motivator behind the shipyard’s innovation efforts. Today the superyacht sector is under increasing scrutiny and owners are more conscious than ever of their environment, not only its protection, but also their enjoyment of it.

Developed for the 47-metre Nilaya, the benefits of the Featherlight method are tenfold. With less power needed for motoring, the team was able to develop a new ‘tribrid’ propulsion system providing three power options with a battery bank allowing for silent operation. This system, smaller than conventional engines, had the additional benefit of leaving more space for interior accommodation.

While Featherlight has been a step into the future, Project 410, New World Sloop, is set to break the wheel when it comes to her green technology. A project driven by passionate owners that recognised Royal Huisman’s ability to champion radical projects, the sloop is set to be powered completely with self-generated propulsion, using both a huge 2-megawatt battery bank and a yacht’s most readily available natural powersource: the wind.

While the shipyard’s current and ongoing innovations are revolutionary, like all of Royal Huisman’s developments, they are based on a deep technical understanding that has been honed over decades. Launching its first hybrid yacht Ethereal in 2009, today the shipyard is able to retrofit the existing worldwide superyacht fleet with its hybrid system, future-proofing its vessels and upgrading them with cutting-edge technology. Both Foftein, built by Royal Huisman in 1999, and Juliet, built in 1993, have undergone this transformation at the company’s refit facility Huisfit in Amsterdam.

 

“With a deeply

ingrained ethos

of innovation

baked into its roots,

Royal Huisman has

long been ahead

of the curve

when it comes

to developments

in yacht construction.”

Looking to the future

While technological innovations within the shipyard’s projects are a staple of the ethos of Royal Huisman, in 2023 the company began to look at its global image from a different perspective. Over the past few years, the motivation for individuals to own yachts has evolved, with a deeper focus on the surrounding environment and the goal to spend more time autonomously onboard. Royal Huisman has aimed to future proof its brand, just as it is future proofing its vessels, to ensure that the prestige that the brand represents today continues into the future.

Launching its new website, branding and house style this year, the company has once again evolved so that its image reflects both the innovation that takes place under its roof, and its historic lineage. With four brands under its umbrella, Royal Huisman, Huisfit, the superyacht components manufacturer Rondal, and the Palma-based refit facility P&G Yachting the company is equipped to assist with every aspect of superyacht construction and refit. Unlike many other industry peers, the company also employs upward of 350 specialists, making it highly agile, with a broad range of skill sets in-house.

The 100m superyacht concept Wing 100 is a true sailing yacht.

 

Demonstrating its commitment to the future of the sector and the continuation of the sailing tradition, in 2022 the shipyard unveiled Wing 100, a 100-metre super sailing yacht with rotating airfoil shaped wing masts. Developed in-house in collaboration with Dykstra Naval Architects and Mark Whiteley, Wing 100 represents the potential future of the sailing yacht experience and for Royal Huisman is representative of the continuous process of forward-thinking design and innovation.

With its unparalleled historic legacy, passion for technology and track record of world class expertise, Royal Huisman is in prime position to lead the superyacht sector into a more sustainable future.

Left photo: Jan Huisman, founder of Royal Huisman, photographed in the 1920s in the Ronduite shipyard.

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