It was in the dying weeks of 2014 that we found ourselves putting Wisp, the 156-foot (48-meter) sloop launched by Royal Huisman, through her paces. Heeling to starboard with 18 knots of winter wind whipping across our port bow, Wisp danced across the surface, trailing a frothing white wake. At the helm we feel instinctively that by using Andre Hoek for design and Royal Huisman as the builder, the owner of Wisp got exactly what he asked for: a comfortable, classic-looking sloop that sails like a witch.
From a distance, Wisp looks well balanced. Her sweeping sheerline, proportional overhangs on bow and stern, and a nicely shaped transom make her a pleasure to study. Close up, the exterior joinery shows great attention to detail. Waterfall margins have been cut out of massive teak pieces—highlight detailing seldom seen except in yachts like this. The deckhouses and cockpits blend with the lines of the deck and sheer, and are all with nicely curved lines instead of the cigar-box-style, square deckhouses you so often see.
The interior design for Wisp is from the British-based team Rhoades Young Design. It suggests a relaxed atmosphere that is calm, light, and “jolly,” to use the owner’s term. It’s also far removed from the heavy, dark interior normally related to classic yachts. The style extends to the three en suite guest staterooms and captain’s cabin. For flexibility when the owner’s grandchildren are aboard, the double guest to starboard has a sofa that can convert to a single.
The natural grains in the honey-stained oak are aligned to ensure a serene setting. Similarly, the deckheads feature simple frames inset with linen; no leather or paneling as would typically be seen. Wenge inlays highlight certain pieces of furniture, with Shoji screens diffusing light and layering the rooms.
Everything in the interior of Wisp was custom made for her. The carpets were handmade in Nepal and dyed to match the tone of the paneling. Both the owner and designers visited Italy to select the marble. They further visited the glass works in Murano near Venice to design the brightly colored lamps, converted from hand-crafted Italian glass vases. They even had the Chinese chests made in China.
An Italian artist was provided with samples of fabrics for each room, to use those same colors to paint beautiful wall hangings. The colors, which range from leafy greens to duck-egg blues and burnt oranges, contrast nicely with the neutral cabinetry.
Rhoades Young Design has collaborated with Royal Huisman before, but Wisp is the first occasion on which the studio has worked with Hoek. Together all three have created a masterpiece. Wisp is modern-day classic that would receive approval from the late Nathanael Herreshoff.
BONUS IMAGES: See our Photo Gallery of Wisp.