How about cruising in hybrid mode at 8 knots without a fill-up for 3,500 nautical miles? Meet the 76-foot Adler Suprema, a tech-filled yacht that could be a game-changer for adventuresome yachtsmen.
The builder’s Hybrid Marine System uses a pair of 1,150 hp Caterpillar diesel engines and electric generators to spin the props, achieving speeds up to 30 knots in conventional mode. At 8 knots, those engines sip just 2.1 gph, for nearly 4 nmpg. The Suprema will also run for a full hour at 8.5 knots using just the lithium polymer battery bank (see “Batteries Included,” below) for a vibration- and fume-free harbor cruise or quick island hop. The entire yacht — including air conditioning, music, galley and TVs — will run for 24 hours on batteries alone. To fully recharge the units, once a day, run the twin Caterpillar diesels for one hour.
In addition to her hybrid propulsion, the Suprema also is lightweight. An aviation company purchased Adler in 2012 and then invested five years and more than $6 million, drawing on aviation, automotive and yachting technology. The Suprema’s construction includes the use of resin-infused Kevlar and carbon fiber to keep displacement around 98,000 pounds, even with a reinforced collision bulkhead forward and side bulkheads in the engine room. One comparable 76-footer I looked at was about 10 tons heavier.
Tech-Savvy: Touch a button in the Suprema’s salon and the windows go opaque. Drink holders are electrically chilled. There are buttons to warm the sole in the salon, pilothouse, galley and lower-deck heads. Doors are keyless and operate via fob.
As Adler Chairman Alexander Vagacs put it: “We love yachting. We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. We wanted to reimagine it.”
The yacht’s sporty and stylish hull design is from Italian superyacht designers Nuvolari-Lenard. ATE and Aradex of Germany engineered all the electrical wizardry, including the 100 kW E-units (see “What’s an E-Unit?” on the opposite page). TTControl in Austria provided the interfaces, allowing an iPad to control all onboard systems. The yacht is built at Italy’s Cantiere Alto Adriatico near Trieste, with new-build technologies and Old World craftsmanship.
The security and safety system, which Adler designed, includes fire-awareness and suppression systems, closed-circuit TV, and infrared and underwater cameras. The monitoring system allows skippers to check that all portholes and doors are closed. Six LCD touchscreens from Böning (along with the iPads) provide control of the yacht’s systems, from air conditioning to lights and curtains.
But back to the hybrid propulsion system. The setup has six drive modes in all. At its most basic is pure electric, with the diesels shut down and power drawn solely from the batteries. No noise or vibration, and a no-brainer for up to one hour of operation at up to 8.5 knots. It’s a great way to exit the mooring field at first light. The hybrid mode shuts down one diesel while the other diesel uses the E-unit to generate power. This is the most efficient setting for long-range cruising and has the lowest fuel consumption while reducing maintenance intervals and increasing the Caterpillars’ life span.
Next is the traditional twin-diesel mode, using the main engines to propel the boat to her top-end potential. A fourth mode is twin diesel and generator, where the main engines not only turn the propellers but also power the E-units, which recharge the battery bank, allowing all-electric operation on arrival at your final waypoint. The fifth mode lets you switch the E-units so they become motors while using both diesels; increased power reaches the propellers with a lower load on the main engines. Last is generator mode, running the diesels with the E-units as generators for one hour to fully recharge the battery banks while using less than 7 gallons of fuel.
When it comes to accommodations, the Suprema has two standard layouts with three or five staterooms, plus crew quarters, or clients can pencil in what they want from a blank sheet of paper. The interior décor and furnishings are equally open, with our test boat combining washed oak and pale teak. It was laid out with an amidships full-beam master that had a love seat, walk-in closet and en suite head.
A VIP was forward, also with an en suite head and shower, while a third stateroom was aft with a separate stairwell from the salon, again with a settee and en suite head. The crew quarters for two were aft, with access from the salon for safety at sea. The salon is notable for a curved window aft for dining with a view. With the opaque windows activated, there’s complete privacy. Forward in the salon are a wet bar to starboard and the galley to port, with the galley separated from the main area.
Farther forward is the helm, which can be blocked off for night running. Anyone who wants to relax at the L-shaped settee and table can keep the skipper company. Deck access is through a pantograph door to port. And on the bridge are settees, a grill and a dining table, all set beneath a standard fiberglass hardtop that provides shade.
I think the Adler Suprema is a harbinger of the future of yachting, with fuel-efficient propulsion, extensive automation and a list of amenities to compete with some superyachts. Frankly, I fell in love with the yacht immediately, and I’m looking forward to seeing what new owners do with this innovative platform.
Ton Vs. Tonne
The bank of LiPo batteries aboard the Adler Suprema weigh in at 2.2 tonnes. That’s a metric weight measurement, which is different from the short ton or U.S. ton. A U.S. short ton tips the scale at exactly 2,000 pounds, while a tonne is 2,204 pounds. Thus, the vessel’s battery bank weighs in at 4,849 pounds — about 600 pounds less than a fully grown male giraffe, hence the need to use carbon fiber and Kevlar in the hull construction to keep the yacht’s weight down.
The Suprema uses lithium-polymer batteries, also called LiPo or Li-Poly batteries. Rather than using the liquid electrolyte found in car batteries, Li-Polys use a high-conductivity semisolid (gel) polymer, allowing higher energy per mass for weight-sensitive applications such as tablets, cellphones and 78-foot yachts. Car manufacturers including Hyundai and Kia use LiPo batteries, as do some light aircraft. The Suprema’s batteries have a projected 10-year life span.
What’s an E-Unit?
An E-unit is a high-efficiency electric motor that can work as a motor and a generator. On the Suprema, the units are fitted onto the prop shafts between the main engines and the gear boxes. Because the E-units are combined with Aradex inverters and TTControl automation, a skipper can manually clutch them, or the system can choose the optimum mode, with the skipper using the throttles to set the speed. The system should come in handy when docking.