Heesen YachtTalk Specials, Season 3, Episode 1
The first episode in Season 3 of Heesen’s YachtTalk Specials took place at the shipyard in Oss inside Shed 6 where its renowned aluminium welding takes place. Presenter Charlotte Kan was joined by long-time Heesen collaborator Frank Laupman, exterior designer of Project Jade, and Heesen’s senior naval architect, Sjoerd van Herk, to discuss all things aluminium.
Since the shipyard was founded more than 40 years ago, Heesen has used aluminium to build its ultra-fast and efficient yachts and Shed 6 is where the magic happens. The shed has the capacity to build two 50-metre hulls simultaneously, or one 80-metre hull.
The latest all-aluminium yacht under construction is Project Jade, the third in Heesen’s 50-metre Aluminium series following Aquamarine and Sapphire. “This platform is so successful because it combines sporty exterior lines with a top speed of 23 knots,” explains Van Herk. “Because she’s the third hull in a series, she benefits from the fact we have already overcome any challenges with the first two hulls.”
Exterior by Frank Laupman
Focusing on Project Jade’s exterior features, Laupman describes how his design process delivered on Heesen’s request for a “distinctive yacht” below 500GT. “My idea was to revive Galactica Star’s design heritage from 2013, and use the sweeping arch to cover two decks,” he explained, while sketching the outline of the boat. “The arches sweep all the way down to the stern, creating a protected and shaded area on the aft decks.”
The second element was the elevated beach club. “We wanted to make sure that when the transom folds down, the beach club is at one level, so that the owners have the sense that the beach club continues seamlessly onto the swim platform,” he says.
Project Jade’s bow with a reverse sheer gives the yacht a sporty and rugged character, while the use of floor-to-ceiling glass in the sky lounge and public spaces provides uninterrupted views. On the bridge, three flat windowpanes provide non-distorted views for the captain.
Interior by Cristiano Gatto
In a pre-recorded video, Project Jade’s interior designer, Cristiano Gatto, spoke of his hope that the yacht’s design endures for many years to come. His aim was to create a fresh, contemporary and inviting yacht that lives in harmony with its exterior.
“The main deck is a key area, where the large windows create a continuous flow between exterior and interior,” he says. “The main salon and dining area has been optimised to focus on entertaining, while the large volume master stateroom divided into four separate area brings space and light.”
Gatto also highlights Project Jade’s large flybridge as an area that has all the features guests could wish for, from a large seating and entertaining area to the wet bar, dining area, Jacuzzi and sun beds. “All al fresco activities can be enjoyed on the flybridge without it ever feeling overcrowded,” he adds.
When reflecting on the many Heesen projects that Van Herk has worked on, he highlights the most challenging as being also the most satisfying. These include 60-metre Skyfall, which he singles out for its high speed, and 80-metre Cosmos for its industry-defining Backbone technology. “I also like the Series yachts,” he adds. “For the 50-metre Aluminium platform, it was a real challenge to find areas for improvement.”
The traditional shipbuilding material of choice is steel and relatively few shipyards around the world elect to use aluminium due to its complex construction. Heesen has long pioneered the use of aluminium, leveraging the benefits that come from its lightweight construction. Aluminium yachts have only 30% of the density of steel, which makes them fast but also more fuel efficient. “Water resistance is determined by the weight of the boat, so a lighter yacht will deliver a better performance and less fuel,” explains Van Herk.
These savings can be made even with smaller engines, which Heesen has begun using in a bid to increase its sustainable construction practices. “Our 50-metre Nova series is full-aluminium, but instead of high speed its built for efficient cruising,” says Van Herk. “Therefore we use smaller engines, which makes the boat even lighter and even more efficient. You end up in a positive spiral.”
On a yacht like Project Jade, it takes around nine months and 40 people to construct the hull. “Building in aluminium requires different techniques and skills, which are hard to find among the boatbuilding workforce,” says Van Herk. “But Heesen has its own school to teach aluminium welding.”
According to Carlos Vrolijk, Heesen’s head of welding production, safety is the number one requirement. “When welding aluminium, you are working with around 6000 degrees Celsius, so proper clothing, gloves and a helmet are paramount to protect the welder’s skin and eyes,” he explains, while walking Kan through her first attempt at aluminium welding. “It’s hard work,” she confirms. “It requires sustained concentration, and I can see how you really have to be mindful of your safety at all times.”
The next instalment of YachtTalk Specials will focus on Project Serena, the newest fast delivery 55-metre Steel superyacht from Heesen.
Tune in next time to find out more!