Royal Huisman 81m

by Royal Huisman with Dykstra N A and Mark Whiteley Design

At the Monaco Yacht Show last year Royal Huisman gave a world preview of “Project 400”, a contemporary three-masted schooner with an overall length of 81 metres (equivalent to 266 feet). Later, at the Monaco Yacht Show this year, Royal Huisman presented, as its latest world premiere, a detailed small-scale model of the boat to give visitors to their exhibition stand a good idea of what the real sailing yacht will look like when work on it is completed. Last June the construction of the new Royal Huisman 81m began in the facilities of the Dutch shipyard in Vollenhove, where both the hull and the superstructure were built in the shipbuilding hall that was recently upgraded in preparation for this great new project.

Now, in conjunction with the Monaco Yacht Show in 2020, Royal Huisman will probably launch the boat in the waters of Port Hercules, thereby marking yet another world premiere before delivery to its Owner. But not only does this unusual series of three world premieres represent a well-deserved tribute to “Project 400”, it also reflects the hat-trick of awards that will be set by the new Royal Huisman 81m when it enters the water to start crossing the world’s oceans. At that moment in fact, it will be the largest yacht built in the Royal Huisman yard and, at the same time, the world’s largest yacht built entirely of light aluminium alloy. It will also be included in the top ten rankings of large sailing boats in the world. Not only the length but also other technical and aesthetic features will help make the Royal Huisman 81m a really iconic sailing yacht in the annals of international naval history. This fabulous new vessel sprang from the vision of a customer from Asia who launched this extraordinary story with his own, almost magically prophetic words, when he asked the team of Royal Huisman, Dykstra Naval Architects, Mark Whiteley Design and  Northrop & Johnson to “build me my dream”. These professional studios briefly expressed how they felt about their involvement in this commission to turn that dream into reality, by making the majestic three-masted schooner in a modern and contemporary style. Very briefly, as in the case of Bart Kimman of Northrop & Johnson Asia, who soberly commented: “It is a great pleasure and honour to have contributed significantly in realising this trendsetting 81-metre project for a client in Asia.” For his part, Thys Nikkels of Dykstra Naval Architects enthusiastically revealed: “At Dykstra Naval Architects we are extremely excited and proud to be part of the creative team for this new 81-metre, three-masted performance schooner. Using our long experience and inventive minds to create an innovative contemporary schooner yacht, for fast passage making, is one to tick off our Bucket List.” Finally, Mark Whiteley of Mark Whiteley Design expressed his joy:“Building a project with Royal Huisman is a very special experience for a designer, jointly designing an 81-metre new build is an opportunity of a career lifetime, so I am thrilled to be collaborating with Dykstra Naval Architects and the shipyard on this fast, contemporary schooner.” This great enthusiasm and commitment led to close and constantly active interaction between the latter and the Owner. The Dutch shipyard and the professional studios completed the design and engineering phases within about a year as well as planning the various stages of construction. As for the naval architecture of the new Royal Huisman 81m, developed by Dykstra Naval Architects, the boat is designed to achieve sailing quality with good seakeeping and maximum stability. Royal Huisman built the hull and superstructure using light aluminium alloy while Rondal used carbon fibre composite for the masts and booms. The standing rigging is also made of advanced carbon material. For a clear explanation of the technical choices made in the design, Thys Nikkels of Dykstra Naval Architects, summarises: “the plumb bow, very long waterline, sleek hull and large sail area will give the yacht the required high speed and good performance.” During the design phase, by comparing the alternatives and optimising the solutions, to assess the sail balance with the keel position and the rudder angles when under sail, in addition to performing towing tests and wind tunnel tests, detailed simulations were carried out using the latest sophisticated software for Velocity Prediction and Computational Fluid Dynamics.


An element of absolute priority is the maximum height of the masts which, without penalising the performance of its ideal sail plan, still had to allow the boat a safe and smooth passage when sailing under the Panama Bridge. The exterior design of the new Royal Huisman 81m was conceived by Dykstra Naval Architects in collaboration with the Mark Whiteley Design studio who have masterfully fulfilled the Owner’s precise request for a sailing yacht with an unmistakable look, fast and safe at sea, welcoming and comfortable on board and able to handle long-distance cruises.

The hull is slender with clean flanks which, from the transom, flow smoothly along to the vertical prow in a light but nevertheless dynamic contrast with the superstructure, which is completely surrounded by large windows and topped by the mezzanine deck. Behind the raised pilothouse, the flybridge offers a panoramic outdoor lounge with comfortable seating for guests who wish to follow navigation from close up, while there is also an outdoor dining area shaded with a canopy and a solarium equipped with sunpads. Well protected by the jutting part of the flybridge above, the cockpit has a living area but can also be used as a dining area, served by a well-equipped bar with cosy seating and a generously sized table. The aft deck is a spacious terrace overlooking the water and totally open to the surrounding marine environment, laid out as a relaxing lounge area with sofas, or alternatively, as a sunbathing area with sunbeds. Below the vast aft deck area, a large garage is provided, featuring a hatch in the transom that opens up to form the swimming platform, where the guest tender and water scooters are stored in addition to numerous water sports gear and diving equipment. The fore deck, on the other hand, has a storage space for the crew tender, located outdoors and recessed into the deck surface; there is also a small deckhouse, designed to close off and protect the stairway leading to the crew quarters, which has the same aesthetic features as the large main deckhouse. Numerous innovative details have been extensively incorporated into the technical equipment to make every aspect of onboard life even more attractive and enjoyable. For example, the newly developed sliding door by Rondal with individually operated moving glass panels provides a seamless transition from the aft cockpit space into the interior. Also, for instance, the flybridge steering stations give access to the hydraulically operated crow’s nest for a very exhilarating ride up the main mast with breath-taking views. As for the interior design and interior decoration of the new Royal Huisman 81m, these have been designed by the Mark Whiteley Design studio which has created settings in a modern and contemporary style, totally exclusive and visibly luxurious, in perfect harmony with the outdoor living spaces. As per the Owner’s explicit and essential requirement, all the decoration and fittings are designed to provide a warm atmosphere and to be very comfortable, but above all to be perfectly adapted to intimate family life and at the same time to suit both parties with friends and business meetings with partners or clients. A fully adequate and completely customisable scenario for each of these needs is surely the great combined saloon, extremely spacious and flooded by the natural light flowing in from the side and front windows, which includes a living area furnished with armchairs and large sofas arranged around a low table and also a dining area with a huge table suitable for seating up to sixteen people. Careful selection and a sophisticated choice of materials to be used for onboard trim finishes are geared towards technological solutions and have focused on natural yet environmentally sustainable alternatives. For instance, walnut will be used for the wall cladding, while the flooring will be in oak, using manufacturing systems that meet the highest standards and ensure the highest level of quality in every single detail.


Flaviano Perelli

Royal Huisman project 400
Length overall81 m / 266’ ft
Owners / guests accommodation 11
Crew accommodation13
Mast & boomsRondal carbon fibre
Height of mastsPanamax
Year of delivery 2020
Classification Lloyd’s MCA (LY-3)
Exterior stylingDykstra Naval Architects and Mark Whiteley Design
Naval Architecture Dykstra Naval Architects
Interior DesignMark Whiteley Design
BuilderRoyal Huisman Shipyard B.V.
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