Panamax sloop Nilaya reached another milestone with her departure from her...


31 January 2023
Panamax sloop Nilaya reached another milestone with her departure from her...

construction hall at the builder’s Vollenhove facility in preparation for the installation of her towering rig in Amsterdam.

This highly anticipated superyacht is the first to utilize Royal Huisman’s new Featherlight™ design and production method. Continuous weight monitoring throughout the build of Project 405 aka Reichel / Pugh – Nauta 154, confirms the Dutch builder has achieved its goal of slicing 11% of the weight of its typical advanced aluminum cruising yachts. Most importantly, it has reduced weight without sacrificing stiffness or cutting corners on quality for this high-performance cruiser.

The shipyard’s revolutionary Featherlight™ method for this 46.8m / 154-foot sailing machine is not a single process or construction technique, but a holistic light weight approach combining various weight-saving solutions.

The Featherlight™ process makes use of Finite Element Analysis (FEA), a design methodology rooted in spacecraft technology. FEA modeling enabled selecting various construction materials and varied Alustar aluminum plate thicknesses and frame spacing to maximize hull stiffness while minimizing total displacement. With engineering and weight management brought in-house, the approach was comprehensive, extending to lighting, insulation, and all mechanical systems. The interior, too, benefited from careful weight analysis. All interior structural members utilize lightweight foam coring. This innovative approach narrows the displacement gap between aluminum and carbon composite yachts. Comfortable, robust characteristics of an aluminum yacht are now a viable option for owners seeking true sailing performance.

Capturing the carbon fiber expertise of its sister company Rondal, Royal Huisman’s engineering team used this synergy to analyze and predict which structural components would be best made of composites or aluminum. For example, the entire 17.5m / 57-foot curvaceous coachroof and guest cockpit structure are carbon composite. Likewise, the recessed tender well on the foredeck (that transforms to a seating area for cruising or a flush deck for racing) is also carbon composite as are a watertight bulkhead, crew entrance, twin rudders, the keel trunk and a cockpit bimini hardtop.

For any high-performance cruiser, a carbon fiber mast, boom, and standing rigging are critical to keeping weight as low and as centered as possible for optimal balance. While Rondal has considerable carbon spar expertise, bringing the design of this component — and the sailmaker – into the process during the larger hull design phase is a page out of a maxi-racer’s playbook.

Project 405 is also the first yacht of this size range designed to take advantage of structured luff sail design pioneered by Doyle Sails, a choice that allowed the entire Rondal mast, rig, and components to be lighter — a key point considering her Panamax air draft. To take advantage of the very narrow headsail sheeting angles possible, Rondal created a radical new curved carbon fiber spreader design that is both shorter and more aerodynamic than anything previously available. Rondal also supplied new generation hybrid (carbon and aluminum) captive winches, hatches and various sail handling gear. Most deck hardware is titanium.

Nilaya’s racy, low profile with its straight bow, wide transom, and twin rudders, echoes the look of her owners’ previous highly successful maxi-racer of the same name. Not surprisingly, she is from the boards of the same naval architecture and design firms, Reichel / Pugh and Nauta, both firms with impressive reputations for high-performance sailing yachts. Exploring all the options for a luxurious performance cruiser also capable of podium finishes at superyacht regattas, the team made full design studies for the yacht in both carbon and aluminum using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to optimize hull shape and balance. Royal Huisman’s Featherlight™ method, an evolution of nearly 60 years of aluminum yacht-building experience melded with the latest carbon technology, provides her owners the best of both materials for a no-compromise yacht.

Nigel Ingram of MCM Newport serves as the owners’ project manager on the build. “While the new Nilaya is meant to take the owners world cruising, he also asked for a boat with all the ‘good habits’ of their previous racer, meaning responsiveness and excellent handling. Alustar aluminum is the right material for an advanced, quality superyacht for global cruising. It deals with noise better and is a better choice for cruising in comfort to remote locations. However, we also thought it was possible to build a lighter aluminum high-performance superyacht. Royal Huisman was not afraid to invest in research to explore and develop all manner of innovative weight-saving possibilities. They really chased the details.”

Nauta Design’s Mario Pedol noted that the choice of primary hull material did not fundamentally change the yacht’s layout or total weight. “With Reichel / Pugh, we set the target weight. Royal Huisman really embraced the concept. It was a very good process, good collaboration.”

Royal Huisman CEO Jan Timmerman used the occasion to highlight both the innovative construction methodology and the latest milestone for Project 405: “The success of the innovations with Project 405 paves the way to use this bold new approach for future builds. I am proud of the investment we have made in advanced engineering and of the way teams from Royal Huisman and Rondal advanced new solutions to meet the brief from very knowledgeable clients and designers. The owners as well deserve congratulations for pushing everyone to achieve just a little bit more and for encouraging innovation at every step. Nilaya will be the world’s lightest aluminum sailing superyacht for her length: she rewrites the script for high-performance superyachts.”

Royal Huisman Project 405 Nilaya will be delivered to her owners in the coming months.



Editor’s notes featuring: 

  • An Investment in our DNA
  • A new course for sailing superyachts
  • Challenging a myth
  • Building a blissful home on the sea
  • About Finite Element Analysis
  • Main specifications

The editor’s notes – and additional images of Royal Huisman project 405, Nilaya – can be found in the article “An Investment in our DNA” at this website > news > inhuis stories & updates [link]. For the full press release: click here (opens new tab).

Update, 6 Febuary 2023:
Nilaya is launched at Royal Huisman Amsterdam

Update, 1 April 2023:
Nilaya at Het Scheepvaartmuseum (Martime Museum) in Amsterdam.

See more at this website: news > inhuis stories & updates > the art of yacht building [link]

“Nilaya is possibly the first truly composite superyacht of the modern era.”

An Investment in our DNA

While many aluminum vessels have some composite parts, Nilaya is much more a hybrid. The revolutionary element of the Featherlight™ method for this 46.8m / 154-foot sloop is not a single process or construction material, but a holistic light-weight method for delivering a global cruising yacht that will be completely at home competing in superyacht racing events.

Featherlight™ is an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach focusing on weight reduction through advanced construction technology as employed by the European Space Agency… Read on at this website > news > inhuis stories & updates [link]

A new course for sailing superyachts

Following an agreed overall weight target, every department was given a weight budget. With integrated teams exploring all the elements of the boat concurrently, everyone was aware of how each decision impacted others. Suggestions for improvements could be shared and analyzed real-time.

Beyond sailing performance, another positive result of Featherlight™ means that the yacht needs less power for motoring, a factor that leaves more space to the interior accommodation. In Nilaya’s case, the Royal Huisman team developed a ”tribrid” propulsion system… Read on at this website > news > inhuis stories & updates [link]

Challenging a myth

For exterior and interior designers Nauta Design, Nilaya represents the largest sailing yacht yet in its portfolio. While she may share some handsome profile characteristics with her 34m / 112ft Maxi Class racing predecessor, this 12m / 42ft longer yacht is designed for luxurious cruising, albeit with a good turn of speed.

“To combine the comfort and robustness to explore the world with the [owner’s] request for a lightweight yacht that would be responsive at the helm and competitive in superyacht regattas wasn’t an easy task,” noted Nauta’s co-founder Mario Pedol. “One option was to build in carbon fiber… Read on at this website > news > inhuis stories & updates [link]

Building a blissful home on the sea

Nigel Ingram of MCM Newport is the owners’ representative for Project 405 as well as the owners’ previous Nilaya, which he describes as “a really happy boat.” That yacht won nearly every regatta she entered. “The owners wanted a powerful performer with easy-to-helm responsiveness; basically, all the good habits of the last boat, but with more comfort and less noise.” Nilaya, after all, means “blissful home” in Sanskrit.

Traditionally, reducing noise and vibration required the addition of weight — strictly the opposite of this desired outcome. To stay within the interior weight budget, Royal Huisman made extensive sound attenuation studies and developed sophisticated composite panels… Read on at this website > news > inhuis stories & updates [link]

About Finite Element Analysis

Finite element analysis (FEA) is a complex mathematical geometric computation used for predicting how a part or an entire product will react under stresses such as load, force, heat, vibration, etc. Being able to look at a part in three dimensions also predicts how the part will react as the same stresses are being applied in its neighboring parts, thus identifying potential weak or vulnerable points that can be corrected in design. Think of it as a kind of digital prototyping but far more accurate and much faster. Solutions can be applied without having to build and test new physical models.

Royal Huisman used Finite Element Analysis (FEA) of Nilaya’s 3D model to fine-tune the engineering to “a much higher level,” according to naval architect Jim Pugh, adjusting plate thickness in the computer and predicting longitudinal stiffness or deflection without so much as touching that first piece of material. But it wasn’t just the engineering teams for carbon and aluminum structure that were involved. Royal Huisman created a new method of operation for Nilaya that kept all parties in the loop and working together from the outset.

“Bringing in the mast and sail designers early in the process has significant advantages,” said Jim Pugh. “From the aero CFD side, Rondal and the sail designers shared high quality data… Read on at this website > news > inhuis stories & updates [link]

About FeatherlightTM 

Learn more on this website: follow the links to Discover > Innovation > FeatherlightTM [click here]