Best of both worlds: performance and comfort


Best of both worlds: performance and comfort

From Seahorse International Sailing magazine, February 2022:

So what exactly is Featherlight? Project 405 is being built behind firmly closed doors and Royal Huisman is keeping its cards close to its chest. ‘Featherlight is a design and engineering methodology aimed at providing a lightweight aluminium construction from the outset,’ a spokesman for the shipyard says. ‘Its result isn’t a conventional superyacht relying on compromises to achieve a degree of weight reduction, but a purpose-driven effort to make the yacht truly as light as possible, and recapture any advantage that composite hulls might have, whilst benefiting from using aluminium. Featherlight comprises the leadingedge weight reduction knowledge that Royal Huisman has accumulated over recent projects, and adds the very latest intelligence and resourcefulness.’

State-of-the-art milling machinery plays a significant part in Featherlight construction. ‘The machine-milled bow deck section of Project 405 features the exact curves of camber and sheerline (so no adjustments required), precise penetrations, and also meets the exact required strength based on FEM calculations including a predefined safety margin,’ Royal Huisman’s spokesman says. ‘All surplus material is removed: highest quality, reduced weight and optimal efficiency.’

But the key difference between Featherlight and regular aluminium construction is what goes on inside the metal skin: ‘The hull of project 405 is a high-grade mix of aluminium and carbon composite, using a semi-automated parametric structural optimisation process. During 16 iterations that are part of our new Featherlight method, the structural weight is reduced by a remarkable 11 per cent compared with conventional methods, whilst maintaining the stiffness of the hull and ensuring structural integrity.’

That’s all Royal Huisman wants to make public about Featherlight, but readers who would like to know more about it can contact the shipyard for a tailor-made presentation.


SEAHORSE International Sailing featuring “What is featherlight construction?” was published as sidebar within the article “Optimized aluminium, February 2022: click here to open the pdf-file featuring “What is featherlight construction?” (opens in a new tab)

FEATHERLIGHTTM is applied onboard Royal Huisman project 405


The construction of Nilaya, Royal Huisman Project 405 aka Reichel / Pugh – Nauta 154, is based on the FEATHERLIGHTTM method developed by the shipyard, to make her extremely lightweight due to the optimal use of the materials that the Royal Huisman team knows so well, complemented with extensive Finite Element Analyses to ensure the very best blend of “proven” and “cutting-edge”, and with target performance, excellent racing properties, and sound ocean worthiness all thrown into the mix as well, she is on course for greatness.


“To combine comfort and safety to explore the world with an extremely lightweight yacht to be competitive to carbon composite superyachts in regattas wasn’t an easy task.”

Mario Pedol, Nauta Design


Mario Pedol continues: “Our early intuition was that an aluminium construction sailing yacht could be much lighter than the existing aluminium fleet. Royal Huisman supported this vision with enthusiasm and accepted the challenge. Extensive research work and calculations, confirmed our initial thought.”

A PERFECT FIT: installing the deckhouse and guest cockpit onboard Royal Huisman’s Featherlight project 405. The 17.5m / 57ft carbon composite structure as well as the carbon trunk for the retractable keel have been manufactured “next door” at Rondal, the shipyard’s sister company. Note the carbon keel trunk: ultra-light and very slim and therefore appealing for both the naval and interior architects. The carbon composite bimini hardop by Rondal can be removed for racing mode. 


Summer 2022 update by owners’ representative Nigel Ingram of MCM Newport: ”From the outset of the project the owner made it clear that achieving the weight goals was of paramount importance. ‘Lightweight’ became the keyword. Not just for the hull, but for all on-board systems, the interior, the rig and even the deck equipment challenging the shipyard’s engineers in all fields to employ even more ingenuity than their already high standards require.

This project is the perfect candidate for the new FEATHERLIGHTTM program, combining the comfort of a structurally optimized aluminum yacht with the performance gains of the best carbon composite build techniques.”


“It is impressive to see how far the shipyard has come with this new know-how and it will be exciting to see future developments. Royal Huisman’s highest level of quality is already evident in the project so far, fully meeting expectations.”

Nigel Ingram, MCM Newport


“Now in the final fit out stage, the launching of Nilaya is keenly anticipated by all involved, particularly the owner and his team.” If you would like  to know more about FEATHERLIGHTTM, please contact the team of Royal Huisman for a tailor-made presentation.

Above: SEAHORSE International Sailing, February 2022: click here to open the pdf-file featuring “What is featherlight construction?” (opens in a new tab)

FEATHERLIGHTTM  –  Best of both worlds: performance and comfort

Bouwe Bekking, professional race captain and 8x Ocean Race competitor, explains: “Royal Huisman’s FEATHERLIGHTTM is a tailor made program, which combines the best of both worlds: performance and luxury. Weight and performance are undeniably linked in yachts – more of the first means less of the other. Excess weight impacts on the speed and handling of a yacht.

So why is “lightweight” not at the top of every yacht owner’s wish list? That is because materials used to achieve weight reductions are widely associated with a lack of comfort, noisiness and vibrations, added expense and the absence of sustainable qualities when building a new yacht.”

Turning the feather

The lightweight construction of the 46.82m performance cruiser Nilaya, Royal Huisman’s project 405 aka Reichel / Pugh – Nauta 154, employs the shipyard’s new “Featherlight” method which combines the best of both worlds: performance and comfort. Read more about “Turning the feather” on this website: follow the links to News > Announcements [click here]

Project 405 is NOT JUST A LIGHTWEIGHT HULL constructed in compliance with Class requirements: lightweight materials and components are equally used throughout the yacht’s interior and various board systems.