As Royal Huisman innovations tend to be well ahead of the curve, it is easy to see how the 58m (190ft) sailing yacht Ethereal project might be overlooked just a few years later. The prominent Dutch shipyard launched the Ron Holland/Pieter Beeldsnijder-designed, ketch-rigged superyacht Ethereal as the world’s first hybrid superyacht some six years ago.
Noted for her pioneering hybrid propulsion system and incorporating 500kW/h of stored energy in her Li-ion battery bank, luxury yacht Ethereal has now logged over 100,000 miles traversing the world’s oceans propelled either by sail, or by mechanical propulsion, or via her stored energy source. Furthermore, her entire domestic load – in addition to sailing systems and anchoring functions – can source its power from this same set of Li-ion batteries, enabling true stealth mode operation.
Setting aside Ethereal superyacht’s six-year lead, eight months have also passed since Royal Huisman launched the 46m (152ft) Andre Hoek-designed NextGEN ketch Elfje, incorporating the latest iteration of the hybrid technology that informed the Ethereal project. Whereas Ethereal’s ground-breaking hybrid system focuses on propulsion and power management, Elfje interprets ‘hybrid’ by supplying power via variable speed, variable output, variable fuelconsuming generators backed up by a Li-ion ‘peak shaving’ power storage bank and energy management system.
Since Ethereal yacht was launched in 2008 and superyacht Elfje in 2014, what remains of Feadship’s claim can only be their definition of the word ‘superyacht’, which is commonly taken to mean any yacht over 30m (100ft). Ethereal is 58m (190ft), Elfje 46m (152ft), and both have been successfully operating in hybrid mode for quite some time.