In various areas

Over the years, the shipyard team developed many smart solutions, several of which became industry-trendsetters. Research and development re-shaped industry practices and has always been the backbone of the Royal Huisman’s success.

One example is the pioneering use of aluminum for yachts and race boats in the 1960s and 70s. Another is project 384, Ethereal, the world’s first hybrid superyacht and launched by Royal Huisman in 2008. Recent pioneering work such as “FeatherlightTM” hull construction, and hybrid energy generation and management systems, is in the process of re-shaping industry practice.

Innovation is always ongoing at the shipyard: new inhouse design and engineering skills ensure that there is the potential to improve the efficiency, reliability and performance of yachts. This results in the saving of energy, cost, and/or weight, and increases user experience and comfort onboard yachts.

The Royal Huisman Group recognizes the importance of advancing the technology behind these strongpoints. The Group has therefore set up a dedicated R&D team to target the following five innovation themes:

  1. Sustainability
  2. FeatherlightTM
  3. User experience
  4. Sailing systems
  5. Tools & methods

Read on below and explore Royal Huisman’s innovation track record via the links with the captions…


Milestones start with innovation. Above: 384 (left), Ethereal aka the world’s first hybrid superyacht. Innovation timeline videos: 90 seconds intro or 8 minute overview (links open a new tab).

Royal Huisman project 405 - photo by Tom van Oossanen DSC_9942_resize
Peak shaving principle c2resp

1. Sustainability

Smart energy concepts and sustainable materials used on new and existing yachts, in order to minimize their impact on the environment and climate. Currently, fuels of the future and various sustainable materials are being researched.

“Pioneering propulsion system”

Left and below: Ethereal’s owner Bill Joy launched his project with a “charrette” – a three-day symposium at the shipyard’s facilities, attended by the world’s leading academics in all the disciplines that might conceivably have a bearing on his project. Below: Bill and Shannon Joy’s Ethereal was launched by Royal Huisman in 2008. The world’s first hybrid superyacht is noted for her pioneering propulsion system and for incorporating 500kWh of stored energy in her Li-ion battery bank (below, left).


384 p_098_2009-07-17 14-40-01c
SY Ethereal @ Hans Westerink-DSC_2706C_resize

“Ground-breaking hybrid system”

Ethereal has since logged several hundred thousand miles traversing the oceans. She can be propelled by sail, by mechanical propulsion, or be powered by her stored energy source. In addition to the sailing systems and anchoring functions, her entire domestic load can draw its power from the same set of Li-ion batteries. Click here to learn more about Ethereal and also Elfje (see also following paragraph). Or use this link to find the article “On board with Bill Joy”.

Project 392, Elfje (left and below), incorporates an iteration of the hybrid technology that was inspired by Ethereal. Whereas Ethereal’s ground-breaking hybrid system focuses on propulsion and power management, Elfje interprets “hybrid” as generating power via variable speed, variable output generators backed up by a Li-ion “peak shaving” power storage bank and energy management system. 


Sailing yacht Elfje, a 152 foot ketch built by Royal Huisman, designed by Hoek Design and Redman Whiteley Dixon.
Aerial photo of sailing yacht Elfje, a 152 foot ketch built by Royal Huisman, designed by Hoek Design and Redman Whiteley Dixon.

“Exceptional fuel efficiency”

Left: exciting high performance and exceptional fuel efficiency for project 403, PHI. At the start of this motoryacht project, the shipyard team was well aware that the fresh challenges posed by PHI’s brief – not least keeping her displacement below 500GT – would need to be addressed within a highly robust and efficient innovative framework. With success: her naval architect, Perry van Oossanen, says of her energy consumption: “PHI is 30% more efficient than a traditional 500GT motor yacht.”

Below: PHI will be followed by project 404, the next high-achiever in terms of low fuel consumption. Her twin, fixed pitch, pulling propellers for optimized efficiency are directly connected to permanent magnet motors. The units are part of the swing retractable, redundant electric azimuthing propulsion system. Project 404 will be able to motor in true silent – stealth mode – operation, using only her batteries, so that an early morning silent departure from a peaceful anchorage is possible. Click here to learn more.



Left: secretive visual of project 410, the 85m / 280ft New World Sloop that Royal Huisman is in the process of engineering. The sustainability objective of her owner will be met in a variety of ways. The innovative technology qualifies for the new Lloyd’s “Hybrid Power” certificate as the yacht will be capable of regenerating energy during sailing. A huge 2-megawatt battery bank facilitates silent and fumeless propulsion. This ensures ultimate comfort with maximum redundancy and sustainability. Wherever the technology permits – or can be adapted to permit – project 410 will be future-proofed.

Below: smart energy concepts for Foftein (1999) and Juliet (1993). Both yachts have been transformed as a result of a conversion from conventional to hybrid power generation. The work was carried out by Royal Huisman’s Huisfit.
Foftein and Juliet both received the ultimate systems upgrade with leading-edge propulsion technology and power generation. The onboard experiences with the new hybrid propulsion and energy system following the conversion by Huisfit can be accessed via this link.

Below, left and center: Foftein. The centerpiece of Foftein’s hybrid conversion is a new gearbox, aligned with a sophisticated new electric motor / generator.  Are you sailing a superyacht with 20th century technology? And keen to embrace all the latest hybrid technology benefits? Learn more at [click here].

2. FeatherlightTM

A approach aimed at saving weight and contributing to improved performance and lower fuel consumption. The FeatherlightTM program was cleverly developed by the shipyard’s inhouse R&D team, backed up by over 55 years of experience with aluminum construction. FeatherlightTM combines the best of both worlds: performance and luxury. The structural optimization tool and foam-cored interior that Royal Huisman developed for project 405 are great examples.

“Weight reduced with 11%”

Left and below: “Turning the feather”. The lightweight construction of the 46.82m / 154ft performance cruiser, project 405, is based on the optimal use of the materials that the shipyard engineers know so well. For example, her “FeatherlightTM” hull is a high-grade mix of aluminum and carbon composite, utilizing a semi-automated structural optimization process. During sixteen reviews that are part of the shipyard’s new construction method, the structural weight of this project was reduced with an admirable 11% compared to conventional methods. This did not affect the stiffness of the hull, nor her structural integrity.

Below, center: the “FeatherlightTM” concept does not just involve a lightweight hull constructed in compliance with Class requirements. Lightweight materials and components are used throughout the yacht’s interior and in various board systems. Below, right: the composite deckhouse being installed onboard project 405. Note the carbon keel trunk: an ultra-light and slim (and therefore appealing) feature to work with, for both the naval and interior architects. Click here to learn more about FeatherlightTM.

Focusing specifically on yacht owners and their enjoyment of commissioning and sailing a Royal Huisman yacht, innovative thinking is applied to:

3. User experience

Creating a great experience for clients in every phase of the yacht’s build, and time spent on the oceans.

“Enhance the owner’s experience”

Left (and below): the “Client App” for our clients is a fine example of dynamic involvement – allowing them to enjoy the yacht even before it is actually launched. This mobile tool has been developed to enhance the client’s experience. The unique app provides regular updates on the progress of the client’s yacht under construction, keeping both client and team fully involved.


Making an impression in the marina

Video (left) and below: it cannot be denied – part of the excitement of building a new yacht is anticipating the way she will be received by family and friends.

Perhaps the most eye-catching of project 403’s many innovative features – and a feature that accentuates the magnificent shape of PHI herself – is her breakthrough laser fiber-optic exterior lighting system. This futuristic system was  jointly developed by Royal Huisman and laser light specialist The continuous glowing threads of light, carefully positioned to mark out PHI’s exotic lines, create a spectacular head-turning effect wherever (and in whatever colors) PHI chooses to display them.

There are exceptional practical benefits apart from the lighting’s visual impact. The system leaves no unsightly gaps (as is often the case with the more common LEDs, which also have a tendency to fail) and is maintenance friendly, too. Its energy consumption is minimal. The whole, highly programmable system control unit is housed in a small, easily accessible casing.

Below, center and right: exterior laser lighting is set to be the next trend in lighting, and has already been selected for project 406, as well.

“Ultimate flexibility pool”

Another innovative feature catching eyes in the marina or at an anchorage, and to date only featuring onboard project 403, is an adaptable swimming pool. Situated on PHI’s aft deck and employing the patented DEPP system, this pool can be enclosed as a sealed tank, or opened for swimming, with fast-responding pushbutton transitions. This avoids the lengthy procedure of pumping water in and out of a separate dump tank.

Guests can enjoy a swim before playing a game on top of the covered pool just a few minutes later. When preparing for passage, the pool is topped up to prevent any surface effect and the inflatable seal is activated.

“Typical Royal Huisman”

Left: Royal Huisman excels in the smart use of glass, with every new project adding to the shipyard’s expertise.

Experience the experience onboard project 386 (Twizzle) and below (from left to right) 400 (SEA EAGLE II), 398 (Ngoni) and 403 (PHI). The sliding glass walls separate the interior of the deckhouse salon from the sheltered exterior guest cockpit without a sill to step over: comfortably executed and with a “typical Royal Huisman” quality finish.

The innovative flush sliding glass doors onboard projects 400 and 403 were exclusively made by the shipyard’s sister company, Rondal. The individual sliding panels do not have to open in the center like a conventional sliding door, and provide comfort and flexibility. The glass panels slide from view into their garage when opening, or are perfectly sealed within the salon when the weather demands their closure. See below, right: top view of project 403, PHI’s main aft deck.

“Think of a closed library at night”

Left and below: how quiet is quiet? While silent cruising is the most immediate advantage of an electric boat in terms of onboard comfort, Royal Huisman has been building extremely quiet yachts based on conventional diesel engine and generator technology for decades. Sound-proofing measures such as “floating” floors mounted on rubber bushes, are now common practice in the yacht building industry. But the shipyard’s inhouse R&D team is committed to minimizing sound and vibration at its source and has studied how relevant measures affect the construction process.

The result: incredibly low noise levels when the generator(s) and household services, including air-conditioning, are in operation. Think of a closed library at night to have a sense of what 30dB represents. The R&D team is always focused on noise and vibrations and on removing noise at its source, rather than just adding more insulation.

Below, right: project 403, PHI. Guy Booth, owner’s representative: “At 22 knots you can barely hear the engines anywhere inside. You wouldn’t know you were moving unless you looked out of the window.”

4. Sailing systems

New types of rigs that improve performance, simplicity and functionality, to enable a more sustainable use of yachts. One example is research into solid wing sails, currently being undertaken by Royal Huisman, sister company Rondal, former America’s Cup team Artemis Technologies and supported by Cor D. Rover Design

The advantages of this revolutionary sail development are promising. Owners who value effortless and sustainable exploration, as well as those who enjoy performance sailing, all stand to benefit. This makes this development extremely accessible for future sailing superyachts.

All the comforts, luxury,
and safety features of a mega yacht

Left and below: extensive testing of an inhouse-built solid wing sail prototype. The advantages of this new development are promising, and not just for sailing yacht owners. The owners of motor yachts can also enjoy the onboard comfort, benefit from both the “green footprint” of their yacht and the significant efficiency advantage of free propulsion power (the wind).

Second row, left: the fast and efficient sail management systems of project 400, SEA EAGLE II, impress everyone onboard: she can get ready to go sailing in less time than the majority of sailing superyachts. Project 410, too, will be a true sailor’s yacht, ready to sail in a matter of minutes and capable of sailing very fast, in comfort, to make the most of her long waterline. She will be superbly equipped to explore the world; exciting to sail, even in light airs, with an impressive ability to build and increase apparent wind speed. Center and right: the uniquely designed square-top and its supporting diagonal batten to detach automatically and furl neatly into the boom of project 398, Ngoni.

“Aesthetically pleasing
and decreased windage”

Right and below: project 405. Her innovative carbon rig by Royal Huisman’s sister company Rondal, was developed with structured luff sails in mind from the outset: reducing the load on the hardware means that the rig can be significantly lighter, as well.

Project 405 will be the first large newbuild yacht to launch with a configuration based on this method of rig design and engineering (below, left and right). The jib’s sail area will be maximized, introducing newly designed, curved spreaders, which will have a significantly slimmer profile design.

Center: Rondal’s integrated sailing system with captive winches: ultimate reliability, executed in aluminum and/or carbon and available with hydraulic or electric motors.

5. Tools & methods

The latest technology in our design & manufacturing process to improve lead time and efficiency.

“Aerospace and satellite industries”

Left and below: “The shipyard embraced a concept known as Concurrent Design & Engineering, a method of product development based on completing processes at the same time while involving all disciplines. A related process is Stage Gating, by which a project is divided into distinct stages separated by decision points known as gates.” (from Superyacht Times article about project 400, Sea Eagle II)

“Both methodologies are commonly used in the aerospace and satellite industries with the aim of increasing time and cost efficiency while maintaining quality. ‘Basically, before starting each phase of construction we discuss what we want to deliver, what the details and implications are, and make decisions together with the departments that come after,’ explains Royal Huisman’s project manager.”

“Like a flatpack from IKEA”

Left and below: “We also add a lot of details during the CNC milling, like perforations for deck winches instead of aligning and drilling them afterwards. It basically means more accurate and efficient assembly a bit like a flatpack from IKEA. Another production improvement has been the adoption of modular skid fabrication. Instead of installing engineering components individually, the systems are assembled within a frame or skid for plug-and-play installation.

‘Skids allow us to build entire systems in parallel, test them onsite and install them as complete units. With as many as 20 skids on this project – from fuel and fresh water to AC and entertainment system – it makes the whole installation process faster and more effcient.’”  (from Superyacht Times article about project 400, Sea Eagle II) 

Below, center: the XXL advanced composite rudder of project 400 was made by sister company Rondal and equipped with load sensing technology.

“The answer is glue. Not any glue…”

Left: the long, low superstructure of project 400 contributes superbly to her sleek and purposeful styling. It also raised an interesting question for the engineers. A largely rigid structure made principally from a highly rigid component – laminated glass – is not going to flex in a seaway in the same way that the hull is designed to do. In those circumstances, how do you safely and securely attach the rigid structure to the flexible one without compromising either? 

The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is glue. Not any glue, but one with highly sophisticated properties, developed by aerospace specialists and classification officials especially for this project. With the rear section of the infrastructure conventionally welded to the deck, the forward section is glued, absorbing up to 2cm / 1″ of flex between deck and structure whilst also providing a permanently secure and weathertight bond. Likewise the complete superstructures of project 404 and 405 have a flexible bonding to the hull too.

Below: various projects under construction. Exoskeletons relieve heavy overhead work.