Wisp: Revivalist Style With A Performance Edge

By Ben Roberts

Commissioned in the Spring of 2014, the 48 metre (156ft) Hoek / Rhoades Young designed classic sloop built by Royal Huisman left Holland for her maiden voyage to the fjords of Norway before entering the Western Mediterranean for the remainder of Summer.

Wisp, a truly classic sloop with a performance that belies her traditional lines, is a magnificent example of revivalist naval architecture from the drawing board of Hoek Design with interior architecture by Rhoades Young Design. Fulfilling the brief as a supremely comfortable cruising yacht more than capable to provide the pleasures of some ‘gentleman’s racing’ on occasion she presented an exciting challenge for the designers and shipyard alike.

The client, whilst satisfied to cruise at a leisurely pace, was looking for a decent turn of speed without sailing on the edge. Moreover, as he plans to make long passages he expected the same high level of comfort – both inside and on deck – he had enjoyed on various yachts; and with meticulous attention to detail, he was involved in every aspect of the design and construction of what has become his ‘home away from home’.

In terms of hull design, the Hoek Design team has revitalised the style and grace of the classic sailing yachts of yesteryear, whilst paying homage to the needs of today’s modern lifestyle on board. Features developed by the team, such as the owner’s aft cockpit, provide a degree of privacy and amenity. Although not typical of the original design period, they help to marry echoes from the past with a thoroughly modern list of creature comforts for today’s expectant guest.

The talented Dutch firm of naval architects was tasked with developing a yacht that would sail very well without excessive heel; hence Wisp’s added form stability, Alustar aluminium hull and spoon bow for a gentler ride.

Her cutter rig, moderate draft underbody, carbon composite spars from Rondal, EC6 and Carbo-Link hybrid rigging and efficient sail handling systems are all enhanced for performance, seaworthiness and ease of handling. The cutter-rig sailplan was designed for balance and simple while cruising and the possibility of using overlapping genoas for racing, with much thought going into the track positioning and winch sizes to handle the increased loads and speeds during regattas.

A close collaboration between the Hoek Design office and Rhoades Young Design ensured consistency between the exterior and interior styling details, which were made a reality by Royal Huisman. The deck design reveals a clean and contemporary layout that still respects the classic styling if the striking sheer, spoon bow, traditional counter stern and teak clad low-profile deckhouses.

The result is an uncluttered expanse of teak decking fore and aft with few obstacles to disturb the sense of harmony. Indeed, throughout the yacht the exterior woodwork has been rationalised by examining and simplifying every joint and detail to create calming guest areas with plenty of hidden storage and an efficient navigation cockpit.

The hull shape provided ample room for Rhoades Young Design, renowned for their sophisticated yet understated yacht interiors, to work their magic in creating grand accommodations for six guests in three en-suite cabins and a spacious owner’s suite. The brief was for a light, airy and calming ambience in which to travel the world – a style the owner summed up in the word ‘jolly’ – and this kick-started the process for Rhoades Young to define an interior design that reflected the classic grace of Wisp’s exterior.

“From an architectural point of view, we created an unusual open-plan interior layout that is designed in layers to reveal itself gradually,” says Jonathan Rhoades. “Below deck you are lead from space to space and at each destination the rooms feel resolved and complete. It is only on exploring further that you realise they open onto other spaces, until finally all the layers are peeled back to reveal salons and cabins with huge sightlines through the various deck levels linking the interior and exterior.”

This timeless sloop, which embodies the spirit of classical style under sail, is a proud addition to the global superyacht fleet and a head-turner for any experience sailor; however, more details will be emerging soon as we look past life on deck and move further into the lifestyle on board Wisp in a feature coming soon.

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By Ben Roberts
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