The Superyacht Platform Providing Answers for the Future

By George Bains

The evolving standards of modern superyachts provide an increasingly complex challenge for designers and architects. Demands such as higher performance, larger deck spaces and more comfortable cruising must all be met whilst adhering to the need for efficient ‘green’ platforms. Steve Quigley, Managing Director of One2Three Naval Architects, speaks to about an under-tapped resource which has proven to achieve all of this ‘straight out of the box’. The paradox of building bigger yet more efficiently may well have a solution…

As the name suggests, One2Three Naval Architects specialise in all hull configurations, working across a variety of marine industries to take on both monohull and multihull projects. The debate between monohull and catamaran yachts has been well documented, both having their own distinct advantages for different yacht purposes. However, it is the trimaran hull form that could well provide the answer to future efficient superyacht designs.

One2Three Naval Architects were behind the world’s first trimaran superyacht in 2005, a project that took off following an out-of-the-blue 1-line email that Steve Quigley received enquiring about trimarans. “I don’t know why but I was so intrigued,” recalls Steve, “so I wrote 10 lines back on why trimarans would be different and have advantages on a monohull.” In 2018, One2Three teamed up with Echo Yachts to build their second trimaran superyacht, the award-winning 84m White Rabbit Golf. She remains the world’s largest trimaran, and the remarkable engineering feat that she represents should inspire others to consider the possibilities of trimaran superyachts in terms of performance, luxury and efficiency.  

Natural speed and intelligent efficiency

Trimaran platforms have a natural advantage when it comes to hydrodynamic efficiency. “You’ve got three long slender hulls, two of which are miniscule, so the resistance drag up to displacement speeds is 30 to 40% less than a monohull,” explains Quigley. The tunnels between the three hulls provide opportunity for large foil areas under the yacht which create a drag reducing motion to bolster speed and performance. “Monohulls can be impressive if they have 4 sqm of ride control surfaces, we have 44sqm! Trimarans have the benefit of being able to support that, if you tried to do that on a monohull it would be like adding a jumbo wing!

Such a significant reduction in drag means that the yacht requires much less power when cruising, so the owner is saving the environment and their own pocket right from the very beginning. There are many more sources of efficiency integrated into the design of White Rabbit that, when all working together, yield remarkable results.

The fuel efficiency has come because the six generators coupled to electric drive motors run at their optimum speed the whole time. It is a stepped speed and resistance curve which works really well. It is a very cool and clever intelligent power sharing arrangement. The yacht is super-efficient not because of one thing, but four or five things. Primarily, we get an increment in efficiency from the generator step function, from the power sharing and also from the highly efficient hull form. The combination of all those aspects makes the boat world class.”

‘You can hear your feet on the carpet’

When it came to White Rabbit Golf, the client asked, ‘what can you do to reduce the noise?’

That was the question that sparked an ingenious move to make the most of the trimaran platform for guest comfort. On the 61m White Rabbit Echo, the first trimaran designed by One2Three, the engines were stored underneath the main accommodation in the centre hull, meaning the yacht had similar challenges to reduce noise vibrations as would be common on a monohull.

“It became a natural question of why not move the main propulsors into the side hulls where the noise can escape overboard, instead of in the centre hull below the accommodation spaces. White Rabbit Golf is the quietest boat I have ever been on. The ambient noise is about 50 decibels, you can hear your feet on the carpet. Moving the machinery to the side hulls and having the generators in their own sound boxes made a massive difference.

If monohull owners could take their partners and gin & tonic onboard this boat in the same ocean as their monohulls, they would never go back.”

Greater interior possibilities

Superyachts are often described as floating palaces, offering five-star luxury in even the most remote areas of the world. The wide beam made possible with a trimaran design has significant advantage for onboard guest spaces, making the idea of a palace all the more real.

Primarily you get large open deck spaces. You’re not restricted to monohull length-to-beam ratios which often make interior spaces small and pokey. The big advantage of a trimaran platform is that you’re not really beam restricted. The spaces on White Rabbit are enormous. They are conference-style spaces. Sam [Sorgiovanni] had trouble filling up the space because his monohull mindset has always been out of necessity ‘make it small and compact’, then all of a sudden he has the luxury of this incredible space. It gives new opportunities to make living spaces much more habitable but still produce the world’s best seakeeping due to the long slender hulls and the roll motion that mimics a monohull.”

Generally speaking, the wider monohull superyachts tend to be slower and have worse seakeeping. From Steve’s experiences with trimarans, greater width has no consequences for the seakeeping since the roll motion can be tapered with the side hull volumes, ensuring stability and comfort. The benefit for onboard space is evident. 61m White Rabbit Echo has a beam of 15.4m, while 84m White Rabbit Golf offers more volume with a beam of 19.11m.

The bigger, the better

Given the evident benefits of trimaran platforms, it would be organic to question why there aren’t more gracing our seas. However, Steve is pragmatic in his assessment that everything comes down to individual preference.

I don’t think everyone would like or appreciate the aesthetics. Some people like riding motor bikes and some like driving cars. Cars, like trimarans, have wider platforms and more stability, but that doesn’t make motorbike riders wrong, it’s just a different experience with different features.”

White Rabbit’s platform has made arguments against trimarans on the basis of comfort and seakeeping redundant. As far as the aesthetic appeal goes, as trimaran superyachts enter the larger categories, their profile can become a lot sleeker to the point that they resemble classic monohull designs. “It’s one of the benefits of getting longer. As you get longer you don’t need to be as wide because you’re not necessarily getting any higher in proportion. The smaller length trimarans are proportionally wide to get the same features, so they do look more multihull. The longer you go, your length to beam ratio can be reduced so they do look sleeker.”

Some of the One2Three, Echo Yachts and SSD groups' recent work, including TSY105 – a 105m trimaran superyacht concept shaped by Sam Sorgiovanni, confirms that larger trimarans can fit the often sporty look that appeals to modern owners. Trimarans have proven that they can be exquisite structures in their own right, and for those looking for efficient designs who appreciate the aesthetic and style, then a trimaran platform has incredible advantages. With many owners now placing a greater emphasis on explorer capabilities, low noise levels and large living spaces, we can expect to see more innovative owners looking to the potential of trimaran designs.  

"If monohull owners could take their partners and gin & tonic onboard this boat in the same ocean as their monohulls, they would never go back"

Steve Quigley, Managing Director of One2Three Naval Architects


"If monohull owners could take their partners and gin & tonic onboard this boat in the same ocean as their monohulls, they would never go back"

Steve Quigley, Managing Director of One2Three Naval Architects
By George Bains
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