Panamax sloop Nilaya, a 46.8m / 154-foot sailing machine, departed from the builder’s Vollenhove facility in preparation for the installation of her towering rig in Amsterdam. This high performance cruiser is the first to utilize Royal Huisman’s new Featherlight™ design and production method. The Dutch builder sliced some 11% of the weight of its typical advanced aluminum cruising yachts without sacrificing stiffness or cutting corners on quality. 

The Featherlight™ process makes use of Finite Element Analysis (FEA), a design methodology rooted in spacecraft technology. FEA modeling enabled selecting various construction materials and varied Alustar aluminum plate thicknesses and frame spacing to maximize hull stiffness while minimizing total displacement. With engineering and weight management brought in-house, the approach was comprehensive, extending to lighting, insulation, and all mechanical systems. All interior structural members utilize lightweight foam coring. Comfortable, robust characteristics of an aluminum yacht are now a viable option for owners seeking true sailing performance.

Capturing the carbon fiber expertise of its sister company Rondal, Royal Huisman’s engineering team used this synergy to analyze and predict which structural components would be best made of composites or aluminum. For example, the entire 17.5m / 57-foot curvaceous coachroof and guest cockpit structure are carbon composite. Likewise, the recessed tender well on the foredeck (that transforms to a seating area for cruising or a flush deck for racing) is also carbon composite as are a watertight bulkhead, crew entrance, twin rudders, the keel trunk and a cockpit bimini hardtop.

Project 405 is also the first yacht of this size range designed to take advantage of structured luff sail design pioneered by Doyle Sails, a choice that allowed the entire Rondal mast, rig, and components to be lighter — a key point considering her Panamax air draft.

Nilaya’s racy, low profile with its straight bow, wide transom, and twin rudders, is from the boards of naval architecture and design firms, Reichel / Pugh and Nauta, both firms with impressive reputations for high-performance sailing yachts.

Nilaya will be delivered to her owners in the coming months.