Dating back to 1884, Royal Huisman has a longstanding, strong focus on sailing yachts. From regatta racers like Hanuman and “the Beast” Ngoni to the three-masted schooner Athena and more, it’s synonymous with some of the world’s most famous sailing superyachts. Therefore, its decision to build motoryachts has surprised some industry watchers—and simultaneously delighted owners and designers. In an interview during September’s Monaco Yacht Show, Jan Timmerman, Royal Huisman’s CEO, shared the shipyard’s power vision. Furthermore, he shared some previously-undisclosed facts about its motoryacht projects.
Diane M. Byrne: When people think of Royal Huisman, the first thing that comes to mind is the glory of sailing. How do you see these motoryacht customers fitting into your big story?
Jan Timmerman: After 135 years of sailing yachts, making a move into the motoryacht world is a big thing. We started doing that because we noticed there was a real need and demand from the market and from clients for a different kind of motoryacht. Let me start by saying, we will remain a sailing-yacht shipyard. But we noticed that some clients say, ‘I don’t like the more standardized yachts.’ They would like to have something really unique. Now the question is, what is unique, and what we can offer is the knowledge and the competencies from the sailing yachts.
One of the things that sets us apart, for instance, is that we are looking for owners to look at every square inch or cubic inch. Because in the sail world, when you look at the hull, you don’t have a lot of space. So, we are used to really using every space possible onboard. The second part is, if you really want to go sailing, you need lightweight and stiff construction. We can also apply that to the motoryachts. So if you combine those two, all of a sudden, we are able to engineer and build for an audience that typically would not have been possible.
We’re not going massive in the motoryachts, but it’s something that we want to explore further. So we’ve set our future; it will be like 50-50. Of course, it’s never exactly 50-50. But that’s roughly where we will be.
Diane M. Byrne: The two motoryacht projects you have are so different. I think it’s fair to say they’re radically different than what you see in the marketplace. Is this what Royal Huisman is striving for—the projects that everybody else thinks are impossible?
Jan Timmerman: You are absolutely right. And that’s why we love them, because it also applies to every sailing yacht that we do. The first response of many shipyards is, ‘We don’t know that we can do this,’ but our initial response is, ‘Alright, let’s go. Where are the challenges? Let’s solve it. If you can dream it, we can build it.’
We already have in the water the longest 500-GT motoryacht under today’s classification (above). If you go inside, you’ll be surprised to see the height of the ceilings. And that’s because we were able to apply all the knowledge from the sailing yachts.
The sportfisher is 499 GT. When the architects who designed it started asking for quotations from shipyards, they never thought about sailing yachts until all of a sudden somebody said, ‘Hold on, this yacht is the longest sportfisher in the world, it has to go very fast.’ So, what do you need for speed? You need light weight and stiff construction. So at a certain point, they said, ‘Maybe we should go to Royal Huisman.’ So they came to us, and our engineers said, ‘We think we should do the engineering and construction slightly different than a regular motoryacht builder would do.’ They came up with technologies that we applied, and at a certain point we said, ‘We think we can do this with less engine power, far less engine power, and reach the same speed.’ You can imagine what this does to usage of fuel for range, but also space.
Diane M. Byrne: Are these two motoryacht projects driving more inquiries? Are people sitting up and saying, ‘Oh, maybe we should be talking to Royal Huisman?’
Jan Timmerman: Yes, absolutely. To a degree, we’re like, ‘Hold on; can we handle all of this?’(laughs) We get so many phone calls and emails and customer visits. Also here at this show, we get architects with clients, and they put their drawings out on the table. Especially architects, because they can dream now a bit further. We don’t stick to a platform; they have much more flexibility. And that’s what architects like—they like freedom, right? Freedom. We’re trying to offer them more freedom.
Diane M. Byrne: And the better architects like to continue to push boundaries. So in terms of that, what can you tell me new about the sportfish (above)? There’s the belief that once you get to a certain size, you lose the functionality, because fishermen are so accustomed to backing down on fish quickly. The laws of physics say that a larger boat is not going to react as quickly.
Jan Timmerman: First of all, you’re right, this is a big step. But if one company can do this, then it’s us, because it’s all about weight, it’s mass, it’s inertia. So if you build the lightest possible fishing yacht, and you combine that with one of the most powerful engines, the engines and science are really innovative. It’s the next-generation MAN engines. And we will be the first ones to use that next generation. And that works for us, because whatever we do, we do it always for the first time. That combination will make the yacht go at speeds of around 30 knots.
The other thing that is important is it’s also a family yacht. So instead of going with a bunch of guys, and catching a couple of big fish, you now can take your family and your friends, and you can go fishing and in the evenings or whatever, you can enjoy family time. So it’s fishing as an activity with the whole family, with a lot of comfort.
Diane Byrne: What’s next? You’re not at capacity, but you must have pretty full order books. So are you happy with your space, or are you looking to expand more?
Jan Timmerman: Last night, I did not sleep very well, and that’s because of this question. You grow until you reach your capacity, right? We’re building faster, so with your capacity you can do more if you build faster. But, also there is a limit, and we’re about to reach that limit. So we need to have several meetings with our shareholders and decide, are we going to expand? That means, you know, really big-time expansion? So it’s on the table.
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