Of the projects you have worked on in 2014, which was the most challenging?
The most challenging project was Elfje, a ketch that has just been launched. Half a year of research went into the development of the hull shape before we even started to design the boat – it’s a rare opportunity to be able to do so much research.
We developed six different hull shapes that we tested and ran through a CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) programme, upright and under heel. These hull shapes were then run through a VPP (Velocity Prediction Programme) with the sail plan to make an equal comparison. We then tank tested the best one using a six-metre model.
The optimisation of the hull shape is something that is occurring more often with new projects. We carry out CFD testing on almost all of our new projects and have also used it extensively for the J-Class to optimise performance – analysing 10 different J-Class hulls to see the difference between hull shapes. It shows us wave patterns and how deep the trough is at hull speed in the middle of the boat. We have been using this technology for three years and it’s really paying off.
What can you take from Elfje that will improve future projects and ultimately enhance the owner’s enjoyment of their yacht?
The research we did for that project showed us what works for this hull type, how to distribute volume (further forward or back), deeper or shallower, the bilge radius (should it be smaller or bigger) and so on. There is a general rule that has come out of this research that we can also use on smaller projects. For instance, with a 55 footer we are designing – which is different to a 140 footer but it shares a similar hull type – we already know what to do, as we’ve seen what works on bigger boats. Of course we can’t scale back that far, but you get the general idea.
It’s also becoming more important for crew to be happy on a boat and that’s why we focus on their happiness as well as the owners and their guests. A good example of this can be seen Elfje and Wisp, which have a separate crew cockpit that is separate from the owner's areas.
What developments have you seen that owner’s should be aware of?
Lifting keels are growing in popularity and are becoming much safer. The first boat we did with a lifting keel was a schooner called This is Us, and is still the only schooner afloat as far as we know with a lifting keel. This was very tricky on a schooner as the helm balance is even more complicated, but the yacht tracks extremely well, and has greatly improved performance. It also improves the ability to access shallower anchorages and we found ways to design the structure so that it’s safe. It’s definitely one of the things I would look into if I owned a big cruising yacht.
What will be the biggest challenge for you going into 2015 and how can the superyacht industry and owners help you to produce the next generation of elite superyachts?
A great challenge for us would be to find forward-thinking owners who want to develop a big motoryacht project with us and design it in a way that is different to what is on the market while remaining timeless, cost effective and very comfortable. Performance oriented but at the same time offering low fuel consumption. We would love to think outside the box, not in terms of extreme styling, but in the ways outlined above and to work with yards that are willing to co-operate in the development of new technology.