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Review: Royal Huisman's Athena!

Discussion in 'Royal Huisman Yacht' started by YachtForums, Sep 24, 2005.

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  1. "ATHENA"
    Goddess of the Sea and Zeus of the Sail!

    Review by YF Publisher Carl Camper​

    She stands tall and proud; a testament to today’s technology and yesterday's splendor. She’s Athena; goddess of the sea… and the most significant splash since the Gemini orbiter fell to earth. She's not only the world's largest privately owned sailing yacht, but she has single handedly resurrected the golden age of sail, while capturing the imagination of mariners worldwide. The brainchild of software developer Jim Clark, who previously commissioned another yacht that stood mast and shoulders above the rest… the 47-meter “Hyperion”, Athena has struck a remarkable balance of hi-tech materials and old-world craftsmanship with a 3-masted schooner of mythical proportions.

    Software and sailing are two worlds’ that could not be further apart. One is an art and the other a science (you decide which applies). As an art form, Athena embodies all that we know to be classic beauty in the yachting world, from her clipper bow to her fantail transom. As a science, it’s no surprise that Clark would have the highest level of computer automation onboard. You name it… and there’s a microchip behind it! Just about every mechanical and electronic system is sequenced by software. The power of Zeus at the touch of a button!

    Athena's Alustar-aluminum hull and superstructure, adorned with teak and mahogany, give rise to three soaring 61-meter gaff-rigged masts. Athena spans some 289 feet in length, over 36 feet in beam, displacing over 1000 tons and stretches four years of spirited teamwork. Combining the unique talents of Pieter Beeldsnijder (exterior and interior design) with the naval architectural skills of Gerard Dijkstra & Partners, Athena is the culmination of their talents and the artistically endowed at Royal Huisman. A virtual dream-team of sorts, that has shaped the sails of yachting history.

    Photo Caption: With only 20 knots of wind filling her sails, Athena heels at 10 degrees and cruises leisurely at 14.5 knots. With the topsails unfurled, she will gain another 1.5 knots. When the wind reaches Force 5, she's capable of 18.9 knots.
  2. THE BUILD...

    Athena was a repeat performance for Royal Huisman, having built the Frers designed Hyperion with Beeldsnijder styling in 1998 for Clark. As an experienced yachtsman, Clark wanted a classic sailing yacht that would inspire the senses. By combining old world charm with the luxury and amenities of a new-age motor yacht, Athena bestows a magical aura to all that behold her.

    The entire team worked closely to complete the interior and exterior styling, leaving Dijkstra to refine the hull, keel and rudder… an important element in optimizing the schooner’s sail rig plan. On deck, Dijkstra and Beeldsnijder joined forces to put form to function with a myriad of deck details that lend their origins to the golden age of sailing, from the lovely bow ornament that graces Athena's bowsprit to the classic, open-air Dutch wheel that guides her.

    Decorating the main decks is a plethora of custom Rondal equipment, which is set against an expanse of varnished teak cabin tops, seating areas and teak soles. The infinite deck areas are proportioned for intimate gatherings, but balanced with the equipment necessary to sustain sail. Dijkstra’s sail plan, deck lay-out, and classically inspired design influences all lend themselves to Athena’s character.

    Athena’s three masts harness some 2500 square meters of wind. Powering down, the uprights are complete with in-mast furling for the topsails, as well as in-boom furling for the skyscraping swing-arms. Over 50 Rondal hydraulic winches hold the sheets captive and permit speedy tacks under full sail. The sails can be set or stowed at the press of a button!

    Photo Caption: Athena has 25 Rondal reel winches and 25 Rondal drum winches, allowing automatic sail trimming for each of her 3 tapered Alustar masts. Each mast is equipped with in-boom furling, including the carbon fiber gaffs.

    Using Alustar plate mast construction, the tallest of Athena’s three masts is 62 meters in height. To give a sense of scale, the view from the Athena’s crow’s nest is much the same as peering over the top of a 20-story hi-rise. And similar to a building… Athena’s mast is equipped with a hydraulically operated elevator to transport those with a sense of adventure to the birds-eye view.

    Athena benefits from the use new alloys, such as Alustar, which is roughly 25% lighter than conventional aluminum. This is the basis for Athena’s hull and superstructure. When it comes to sailing, weight is crucial. Reducing the same is of fundamental importance, especially when building regatta-type boats, where a lighter boat means increased performance. One example of weight saving measures is Huisman’s innovation in lightweight, watertight door development, which is certain to be seen on future generations of their yachts.

    It took four years to build Athena and she was delivered three days ahead of schedule, demonstrating Royal Huisman’s complete understanding of the time involved in bringing a project of this scale to fruition. Huisman feels strongly responsible for every aspect of their builds. They prefer to do all manufacturing in-house, where they can control the entire production process, thus guaranteeing maximum quality for every level of detail. Everything necessary for the construction of their yachts is made under one roof, including aluminum and carbon masts, which they also build for other boatyards like Nautor Swan and Baltic.

    Photo Caption: Cruising speed is a by-product of sail area. There are three main masts; Fore, Main and Mizzen, with topsails filling out the upper masts. In addition, there are three jibs; Outer, Inner and Staysail. All together, they account for over 2600 square meters of sail power.
  4. THE AWARDS...

    The Royal Dutch Corporation of Shipping Technicians recognized Athena in many categories. The receipt of this prestigious award is the first time that Royal Huisman Shipyard has been acknowledged by an organization that typically monitors the commercial shipping industry for innovation and technical achievement. Among a short list of specialty vessels that have achieved this recognition are the RORO carrier; a special espionage vessel for the French Nayy and purpose built carrier to transport modules of the Airbus A380 airplane.

    Athena was presented with the unusual designation of “pioneering”. The judging panel felt that Athena pioneered the following…

    1. Sectional Large vessel construction in Alustar aluminum.
    2. A high level of automation for sail handling.
    3. Use of carbon fiber materials in conjunction with Alustar.
    4. Sailing characteristics under large heeling angles for machinery (exhaust)
    5. The development of the hull in conjunction with the Technical University in Delft, for the attention to hull speed, sea keeping ability and roll period.
    6. Attention to noise and vibration.

    Taking into account the very high loads exerted through the hull by the three 61 meter masts, the execution of the construction and the fore/aft strength of the vessel were noted as well, in addition to build execution and innovation. The award also recognized the overall design and the level of finish for both exterior and interior workmanship. Because various Dutch contractors were utilized to develop and manufacture many of Athena’s components, the award also acknowledged the impact that Athena had on the entire Dutch yacht construction industry.

    Photo Caption: At 36 feet wide, she measures 89 meters from the bowsprit to the aft deck, but her waterline is only 61 meters in length. The overhangs of her bowsprit and fantail transom add significantly to the overall length of 289 feet.
  5. THE YARD…

    Founded in 1884 and bestowed the Royal title in 1984 the shipyard has continued to remain at the forefront of modern yacht construction. Complete with both alloy and composite fabrication facilities, the combined companies of Royal Huisman Shipyard and Rondal provide a complete “under one roof” approach to custom yacht construction.

    Under fourth generation management, the shipyards Managing Director; Alice Huisman, remains committed to utilizing recent investments in machinery and work facilities for the 340 strong workforce. It was the personal goal of Wolter Huisman to ensure that each one of his employees was furnished the tools and machinery to allow them to further hone their skills and bring about the very best quality attainable.

    With much of the physical machinery and facilities now in place, Wolter's desire has become a reality and Royal Huisman is poised to increase their quality, while reducing the man hours needed to complete a vessel.

    Photo Caption: The face of Athena under the bowsprit? If this IS her face, then look at for that body! Athena’s gross weight (half-tank) is 1068 tons with a draft of 5.5 meters. This is relatively shallow for a sail boat of this magnitude, but 221 tons of ballast counter the leverage.

    Royal Huisman’s “under one roof” approach to yacht construction is evident at their 30,000 square meter facility. From the furniture hall to the adjoining Rondal factory for masts, hatches and deck equipment, the shipyard’s most recent investments are clearly present. In addition, substantial investments in software and machinery are in place, such as the Auto-Cad Inventor design software in parallel with the well established Ship-constructor fabrication software, which has been in use for some time.

    With an eye on expanding their advanced composites division, they have implemented a robotic 6 axis-milling machine has proven that the computer milling at a 1:1 scale of superstructures, steering stations, hatches, keels and other complex shapes has been a great step forward. Such accurate molding will allow the naval and styling architects from which the yard works with to be able to express their design ideas with greater freedom.

    Because the yachts that Royal Huisman produces are becoming increasingly larger and more complex, the company must continually refine their manufacturing skills by investing heavily in research and keeping up to date on the latest materials and techniques so their yachts remain on the cutting edge of today’s construction standards. In fact they have become so proficient at manufacturing such a diverse range of components, that if a particular part is not available from suppliers, they often produce it themselves

    Photo Caption: Although there is plenty of wind for this photo shoot, when the breeze brings you to your knees, twin Cat 3516B's, rated at 2000 horsepower (at 1600 rpm) take up the slack. Athena's top speed, under sail or power, is faster than most motoryachts! Suffice to say, her gas mileage is a bit better too.

    Royal Huisman's innovative ideas and top-notch engineering teams have resulted in the world's top designers and clients beholding Huisman’s slogan… "If you can dream it, we can build it". When the family started building wood work boats in Vollenhove, Holland, in 1884, the prime requirements were strength and seaworthiness to cope with the uncompromising conditions of northern Europe waters. That tradition has not been forgotten... however the building materials used today are quite different. The Royal Huisman Shipyard has brought lightweight components such as interiors made from foam-cored structures to an art form. Large yachts are complex. The highest levels of quality, craftsmanship and construction are meaningless if the operational systems do not match up. This is where Royal Huisman's fully integrated approach and in house disciplines strengthen the yard's reputation as one of the world's foremost yacht builders.

    The yard builds custom sailing and motor yachts with a length of 20-90 meters, as well as repair and refit work. Working with major suppliers and subcontractors, the yachts are built by a dedicated and well-trained permanent work force of over 330 employees. To maintain a competitive edge, modern construction facilities are constantly being updated. The shipyard's essential components are set in an ideal pattern: the offices and computer-aided design rooms, the main metalworking hall, the woodworking, machine and plasma shops, the assembly and staging areas and the 142,000 cubic meter paint hall, all center on the computer managed stock room for proper flow of work, materials and ideas.

    The new millennium has ushered in the completion of Royal Huisman's most ambitious expansion program that has seen a capital injection of some 10 million Euros. Bestowed the Royal title in 1984, the shipyards 7500 square meter expansion has provided a state of the art furniture factory and an 80 meter long construction hall. Equipping the personnel with new machinery and work facilities had always been the long-term personnel goal of Wolter Huisman.

    Photo Caption: Athena has an aft deck with some serious square footage. There are sun & shade lounges for both the main deck and top deck. If her overhangs and awnings don't supply enough shade, then her sails will supply the rest.

    With the passing of Wolter Huisman, the yard is now under the direction of Alice Huisman, who has worked in the yard along with her two sisters since she was 13 years old. And so the tradition and family lineage continues, just as Alice's great-grandfather passed the yard along to her father. Royal Huisman made wood boats when her father joined the yard, but by the 1950s, they were building steel boats. By the '70s the yard was building exclusively in aluminum, the perfect material for racing sailboats. And they built lots of them. Many would become famous yachts that sailed in round-the-world races and won.

    In the 1980s they began constructing cruisers with racing hulls that provided interior accommodations. In 1986, two years after the yard celebrated its 100th birthday and was given the designation "Royal" by the Netherlands' Queen Beatrix, in acknowledgment of Huisman’s contribution to the Dutch yacht building industry. This “Royal” Seal of Quality has only been given to 130 companies in Holland, which recognizes their importance and contribution to their country.

    Royal Huisman has produced a long series of the most notable sailing yachts in the world, including yachts such as Surama, Hyperion, Borkumriff IV, Maria Cattiva and the new Antares. These are among the many boats that continue to amaze for their technical accomplishments and their aesthetic appeal. Sailboats represent the majority of Royal Huisman’s builds, but they have also produced motoryachts. This is a sector they have recently begun to place more focus on. For example, the upcoming “Arcadia”, a 117’ Tony Castro designed long range motoryacht with a Dick Young interior, which is scheduled for delivery in April 2006

    Photo Caption: THE NAME - Athena - the god of moral philosophy suggests that those on the right were moral and correct in their theories. Born from the head of Zeus, she was the Greek goddess of wisdom, battle, and craft.

    The remainder of this feature are deck and interior pictures with narratives only...

    Photo Caption: The Bridge Deck features a Portuguese-style pilothouse, which serves as a refuge from the open air navigation of the exterior ships wheel. Six wiper blades ensure ill-weather visibility along scalloped windows that match the swing of the wiper arms. Guests are treated to unlimited ocean air scents via split bench seating to port and starboard.
  10. Photo Caption: Sheltered by stainless tube-frame with stretched and sewn canvass, the Dutch style wheel and compass pedestal stand prominently at center stage. What is unusual about this arrangement is… most sailing yachts have their wheels located aft. But of course, Athena IS an unusual yacht!
  11. Photo Caption: The ship’s wheel embodies the spirit of the Athena and represents ALL that is traditional and much of what is right. Like so many of Athena’s components, it is engraved with her name and stands as a symbol to the era.
  12. Photo Caption: Reflecting her level of detail in wood and metal, the compass is also engraved with her name. It’s ironic that a ship with so much digital automation would have something… so analogue!
  13. Photo Caption: As the sun goes down and Athena's lights go up, the backlit display of the her compass glows with an amber warmth. Likewise, most of the ship's lighting systems are computer controlled to set a desired ambiance.
  14. Photo Caption: A rising storage pedestal located on the aft upper deck gives way to this shade lounge. It also serves as a divider from one of three main propulsion systems… the aft mast. Most of Athena's lounges and seating double as a storage lockers, for stowing cushion and deck equipment. When guests tire of lounging, they can take a ride up the aft-mast elevator to the crow’s nest.
  15. Photo Caption: The main deck strikes a balance of hard covered and canvas covered areas. In-deck drains mark the entrance to the bridge deck's aft covered area. If the side deck looks expansive, it's because one of the RIB's that normally occupy this deck position is MIA. Same for the port side too.
  16. Photo Caption: Looking aft from the Bridge Deck conversation area, sofa seating and ottomans reside under protected cover. To the outboard edges of this picture, you can see the aft tender davits waiting to retrieve.
  17. Photo Caption: Just aft of the hard covered conversation area is the exterior, al-fresco dining table. The table remains a permanent fixture of the aft deck, while folding chairs are utilized for easy stowage. The dining area is flanked by two staircases leading to the main deck, while Athena's Mizzen mast towers through the awning opening behind.
  18. Photo Caption: Looking aft from the port navigation station, stainless stansions and varnished wood rails line the perimeter decks and every walkway. A symphony of support struts and wires create a vertical maze that boggles the mind.
  19. Photo Caption: This is one of four main exterior staircases, two forward and two aft, that grant access between the bridge deck and the main deck. There is also a crew access ladder centrally located on the bow. Again, notice the rail-lined tables on deck. While they are certainly beautiful, those details will need lots of attention in the years to come.
  20. Photo Caption: The depth of detail becomes more evident upon closer examination of the staircase hand rail. The Dutch are known for their excellent woodwork and Royal Huisman takes this legacy to another level.
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