In various areas

Over the years, the shipyard team developed many smart solutions and several of these became industry-trendsetters. Research and development re-shaped industry practice and has always been the backbone of the company’s success, such as the pioneering use of aluminium in the 1960s and 1970s for yachts and race boats. Project 384, Ethereal, the world’s first hybrid superyacht was launched by Royal Huisman in 2008. Recent pioneering work in “FeatherlightTM” hull construction and in hybrid energy generation and management systems have re-shaped industry practice.


Innovation timeline videos: 90 seconds intro or 8 minute overview (links open a new tab). Left: project 384, Ethereal aka the world’s first hybrid superyacht. Below, left: Dr. Jim Clark’s driving vision and continuous energy led, in 1995, to the placing of an order to build an extraordinarily advanced sloop: project 368, Hyperion. Following two additional, impressive newbuild orders in recent decades (project 378, Athena, and project 385, Hanuman) and a successful refit, he and his wife Kristy Clark decided the same craftsmen and women are best suited to take on rebuilding Atlantide with the finest materials and most advanced board systems. Below, center: another milestone, the hull turning of project 400 in 2018, the shipyard’s largest hull ever. This contemporary schooner became the world’s largest aluminium sailing yacht upon her delivery. Below, right: project 403, PHI, the world’s longest sub 500GT motor yacht, is full of innovative features such as her laser powered exterior lighting. At the start of the project, the shipyard team was well aware that the fresh challenges posed by PHI’s ambition and creativity – not least the constant quest to keep her displacement below 500GT – would need to be addressed within a highly robust and efficient organizational framework.

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Research at the shipyard is always ongoing: inhouse design and engineering skills ensure that there is the potential to improve efficiency, reliability and performance, to save energy, cost or weight and increase user experience and comfort. The Royal Huisman Group invests substantially by having a dedicated team in research and development, and has made the commitment to dedicate itself to the following five innovation themes:

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

Read on below and explore the various examples in the captions…

Royal Huisman project 405 - photo by Tom van Oossanen DSC_9942_resize
Yacht Wisp cruising the Geirangerfjord, a 156 foot (48 meter) sailing yacht built by Royal Huisman and designed by Hoek Design.

1. Sustainability

Applying smart energy concepts and using sustainable materials on new and existing yachts, in order to minimize the impact on the environment and climate. Currently, fuels of the future and sustainable materials are being researched.


Left and below: Ethereal’s owner Bill Joy launched his project 384 by holding a “charrette” – a three-day symposium at the shipyard’s facilities attended by the world’s leading academics in all the disciplines that might have any conceivable 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 incorporating 500kWh of stored energy in her Li-ion battery bank. Below, left: project 392, Elfje (2014), incorporates an iteration of the hybrid technology that was inspired by the Ethereal project. Whereas Ethereal’s ground-breaking hybrid system focuses on propulsion and power management, Elfje interprets ‘hybrid’ by supplying power via variable speed, variable output generators backed up by a Li-ion ‘peak shaving’ power storage bank and energy management system. Ethereal has now logged several hundred thousand miles traversing the oceans propelled either by sail, or by mechanical propulsion, or via her stored energy source. Furthermore, her entire domestic load – in addition to sailing systems and anchoring functions – can source its power from this same set of Li-ion batteries, enabling true silent ‘stealth mode’ operation. Click here to learn more about Ethereal and Elfje. Via this link you can find the article “On board with Bill Joy”.

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SY Ethereal @ Hans Westerink-DSC_2706C_resize

Left: secretive visual of the 85m / 280ft New World Sloop. The sustainability objective of project 410 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 and 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, center: project 404’s twin, fixed pitch, pulling propellers for optimized efficiency directly connected to permanent magnet motors as part of the swing retractable, redundant electric azimuthing propulsion units. “The yacht can motor in true silent ‘stealth mode’ operation using only the batteries, so an early morning silent departure from a peaceful anchorage is possible”: click here to learn more. Below, left and right: smart energy concepts for Foftein and Juliet. Both yachts are modernized via a conversion from conventional to hybrid power generation by Royal Huisman’s Huisfit: the ultimate systems upgrade with leading-edge propulsion and power generation.

The onboard experiences of the new hybrid propulsion and energy system following the conversion by Huisfit can be found 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].

Below, right: project 403, Phi, offers the exciting combination of both high performance and exceptional fuel efficiency. Her installed main engine power is capable of achieving over 22 knots. In theory she could go much faster, but the client’s brief has always been focused on energy efficiency and therefore the propulsion power is by no means maximized. Her naval architect, Perry van Oossanen, adds: “Phi is 30% more efficient than a traditional 500GT motor yacht.”

Royal Huisman 403 PHI trials - photo by Tom van OossanenDJI_0932c_resize

2. FeatherlightTM

A holistic, multi-disciplinary approach aimed at saving weight and contributing to improved performance and lower fuel consumption. The FeatherlightTM program, which was cleverly developed by the shipyard’s inhouse R&D team backed up with over 55 years of experience with aluminum construction, combines 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.


The lightweight construction of the 46.82m / 154ft performance cruiser, project 405, is based on the optimal use of the materials that the shipyard team knows so well. For example, the “Featherlight” hull is a high-grade mix of aluminum and carbon composite, utilizing a semi-automated parametric structural optimization process. During sixteen iterations that are part of the shipyard’s new construction method, the structural weight is reduced with an admirable 11% compared to conventional methods, whilst maintaining stiffness of the hull and ensuring structural integrity. Left and below: “Turning the feather”. Note the installed carbon keel trunk of project 405 on the right: an ultra-light and slim, and therefore an appealing feature to work with, for both the naval and interior architects. Click here to learn more about Featherlight.

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

3. User experience

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


Left: the ” Client App”: this mobile tool has been developed to enhance the owner’s experience. Below: this unique App provides regular updates on the progress of the client’s yacht under construction, keeping client and team fully involved.

Video (left) and below: perhaps the most eye-catching of project 403’s many innovative features – and one that accentuates the magnificent sculptural quality of Phi herself – is her breakthrough laser fiber-optic exterior lighting system, jointly developed by Royal Huisman and 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 to complement the visual impact. No unsightly gaps (as often arise with more common LEDs, which have a tendency to fail) and maintenance friendly, too. The energy consumption is minimal. The whole, highly programmable system control unit is housed in a small, easily accessible casing. Below, center: exterior laser lighting is set to be the next trend in lighting and is already scheduled to be installed onboard project 406 too.

Below, right: another innovative feature onboard project 403, Phi, is the swimming pool located on the aft deck. Employing the patented DEPP system for ultimate flexibility, the 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 getting ready for passage the pool is topped up to avoid any surface effect and the inflatable seal is activated.


Left: 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: comfortably executed without sill to step over and therefore “typical Royal Huisman”…

The innovative flush sliding glass doors of project 400 and 403 are exclusively made by the shipyard’s sister company, Rondal: the individual sliding panels don’t have to open in the center like a conventional sliding door so providing a wealth of comfort and flexibility. Also, the glass panels slide from view into their garage, or perfectly sealed within the salon when the weather demands it. See below, right: topview of project 403, Phi’s main aft deck.

Left and below: how quiet is quiet? While silent cruising is the most immediate advantage of an electric boat in terms of onboard comfort, the shipyard has been building extremely quiet yachts based on conventional diesel engines and generators for decades. Sound-proofing measures such as ‘floating’ floors mounted on rubber bushes, are common practice in the yacht building industry. But inhouse R&D is directed at minimising sound and vibration at its source and how that affects the construction process.

The result: incredibly low sound levels when a generator and household services, including air-conditioning, are in operation. Think of a closed library at night and you have a sense of what 30dB represents. The team is always focussed to sound and vibration and to removing noise at the source, rather than just adding more insulation. Project 405’s construction will present formidable competition to existing carbon yachts, whilst at the same time combining comfort with the low sound levels of aluminum yachts. Below, right: project 403, PHI. Guy Booth, owner’s representative of project 403: “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

Delivering new types of rigs that improve performance, simplicity and functionality, to enable a more sustainable use of yachts. One example is the investigation of solid wing sails, currently being researched extensively by the shipyard, sister company Rondal, and the former America’s Cup team Artemis Technologies. Still in its early stages, the advantages of this revolutionary sail development appear promising. Owners who value effortless, sustainable exploration as well as those who enjoy performance sailing, all stand to benefit, making this development extremely accessible for future sailing superyachts.


Left: extensive testing of an inhouse-built solid wing sail prototype. The advantages of this new development (such as improved comfort) are promising for both motor yacht and sailing yacht owners. Below, left: the fast and efficient sail management systems of project 400, Sea Eagle II, impress everyone onboard: ready to go sailing in less time than the majority of sailing superyachts. Project 410 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 that long waterline – better equipped to explore the world. She will be exciting to sail, even in light airs, with an impressive ability to build and increase apparent wind speed. She should provide all the safety features, comforts, and luxury of a mega yacht. Below, center and right: the square-top and its supporting diagonal batten to detach automatically and furl neatly into the boom of project 398, Ngoni.

Right and below: project 405. Right: her innovative carbon rig by the shipyard’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. The jib’s sail area will be maximized, introducing newly designed, curved spreaders, which will have a significantly slimmer profile design: aesthetically pleasing and decreased windage.

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

5. Tools & methods

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


Left: the long, low superstructure of project 400, Sea Eagle II, 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.