Ron Valent sails this spectacular yacht from Royal Huisman and Hoek Design, with interior by Rhoades Young
In October Palma de Mallorca is filled to the brim with over 100 overwintering superyachts, including some of the most beautiful classics, such as the schooner Ashanti IV and the Thornycroft-built 213ft motor yacht, Shemara, from 1938. Lying nearby, the classic-looking Wisp seems to belong to the era of those exquisite craft rather than to that of the gold and silver-coloured, modern superyachts.
But the superyacht Wisp is a modern creation. No less than three superyachts – of 121ft, 150ft and 156ft – were launched from the Royal Huisman Shipyard in 2014. Two, including this 156-footer, were from the board of Hoek Design, the first time that these two market leaders had worked together on a project. We headed out for a sail on her with André Hoek and interior designer Jonathan Rhoades on board to give an insight into the creation of this spectacular yacht.
Stepping aboard the superyacht Wisp, the first thing that strikes you is the feeling of space. From the passerelle you have an uninterrupted view over nearly 50m of teak deck. The deckhouses are low and the fixed biminis over the main central and aft owner’s cockpits, which have become a Hoek Design trademark, are high enough to be able to look beneath them.
Also notable is the relatively small boom, about which Huisman’s Mike Koppstein immediately launched into an explanation as he followed my gaze upward. “Together with Hoek Design, Rondal spent months designing and tinkering with its shape to minimise its visual impact,” he explained. “Normally, a Park Avenue boom like this, housing the furling 580m2 mainsail, is huge.” In comparison Wisp’s elegant boom looks as if the mainsail hasn’t yet been fitted.
Before Wisp the owner only had experience with motor-yachts and the design brief was to create a stable yacht on which he could cruise in comfort and occasionally indulge in some ‘gentleman’s racing’. Hoek and Huisman have enough experience to realise that owners who can afford a yacht like this often have a competitive spirit that manifests itself on the very first outing. So the naval architects at Hoek translated gentleman’s racing into ‘design a really fast boat’.
Hoek explained: “With Wisp we used the relatively wide beam of 9.50m to create a stiff and stable yacht.” Wisp is just long enough to carry this width gracefully. “Owing to her classic lines and long overhangs, Wisp is only 110ft on the waterline, but she has enormous volume, which gave us the possibility of creating the interior the owner desired.”
Her hull shape owes something to the Herreshoff schooners Eleonora and Mariette. Herreshoff was noted for the fact that, in a period when the consensus was that a narrow boat was a fast boat, his designs were much beamier. Despite this they won practically every race they entered.
I asked André Hoek how he manages to combine the need for comfort and speed expected of a modern superyacht with a hull shape that is undeniably classic. “We introduced the concept of two deckhouses and a separate owner’s cockpit a few years ago in the 55m (180ft) Spirit of Tradition ketch, Adele. That classic hull shape with long overhangs actually isn’t a choice dictated only by aesthetic feelings. Practical factors also play a role.”
Owners increasingly realise the benefits of a private aft cockpit and entrance to their cabin, and a large central cockpit protected by two deckhouses, an option only available with a classic hull form.
Jonathan Rhoades elaborated: “The deck space with its multiple cockpits creates a social area on this yacht that easily takes up 40 per cent of the deck without compromising her sailing functions at all.”
With the interior of Wisp Rhoades Young and Huisman have succeeded in creating an inviting, home away from home atmosphere where the private cabins and social areas flow into one another seamlessly. The light oak panelling was carefully stained to create a soft honey colour, inspired by the owner’s favourite room in his house.
Jonathan Rhoades explained the lengths he went to to ensure that everything in the interior blends harmoniously. “I defined all the colours and the motifs of the flowers in every painting before the artists started and I designed all the vases myself so they would match the interior.” The quality of the woodworking and furnishings is sumptuous.
Wisp’s performance under sail is just as impressive. Under reefed main and partly furled jib she simply picked up her skirts and took off at a constant 16 knots reaching as well as upwind with bursts of over 17. All the time heel was minimal and the wine glasses remained on the table. With her mechanical steering, helming is very direct and responsive – she is a real helmsman’s boat.
With her 250 tons displacement she tracked like a long-keeled classic, but reacted to every touch of the helm. Wisp has fulfilled her owner’s expectations, and you can see exactly why.
LOA 47.65m/156ft 4in
LWL 33.62m/110ft 4in
Beam 9.50m/31ft 2in
Draught 4.45m/14ft 7in