4YOU, the third in a series of 154-foot motoryachts from Heesen Yachts, recently joined sisterships Sirocco and Celestial Hope. Like the other triplets, and like many other Heesen yachts before her, 4YOU rides on a semi-displacement hullform, has an all-aluminum structure for light weight, and is fitted with enough power to boost her top speed well above displacement speeds. In this case, 4YOU tops out at 24 knots.
Designing and building large yachts to achieve such speeds is not uncommon these days, but it was fairly unheard of when the Dutch builder pioneered the niche more than 30 years ago. In fact, the persistence of a single yachtsman drove the development of such yachts at the beginning. Florida yachtsman Blas Casares approached several companies in America and Europe for a yacht that would offer him a blend of the comfort and fuel economy of his current displacement yacht, combined with the speed, handling — and exhilaration — of a smaller runabout. After being rejected by some of the foremost designers and builders in the business, Casares found a sympathetic ear in Frans Heesen, and a new type of yacht was developed.
Heesen’s design was not the heavy steel-hull displacement yacht that was the standard of the day, nor was it a stripped-out shell of a boat meant purely for speed. Rather, the yachts developed for Casares, and later for many others, enabled a considerably higher top speed coupled with the ability to undertake long cruises with reasonable efficiency at displacement speeds. As always, creature comforts and good seakeeping remained priorities. Heesen has evolved and mastered this niche in the intervening decades, but the demands of speed and comfort often conflict with one another, sometimes making an acceptable middle ground seem impossible to find. That’s why Casares first met a stone wall, but Heesen, with its naval architecture developed in-house, works very closely with outside designers to assure that both the engineering package and the styling and interiors are completed with a minimum of compromise.
Heesen started by testing the hull design of 4YOU at the Wolfson Unit, a part of the Southampton University in England that specializes in small-craft research. Then they carefully spec’d the propulsion system, choosing Schaffran five-blade propellers to utilize all the horsepower delivered by the powerful MTU 16V4000 engines. In essence, it’s the classic one-two punch: first, minimize the power needed, then maximize usage of the power installed. It’s a simple, basic idea, but one that builders too often overlook.