Silver Wind, a semi-custom yacht, represents the future of the superyacht industry. If you’ve been watching the semi-custom megayacht market in recent years, you may have noticed an interesting development. Increasingly, shipyards are giving owners more input. They’re realizing that some of today’s buyers aren’t satisfied with only having a choice of wood veneers, or whether the master suite will go on the main deck versus the upper deck. Indeed, these buyers are voicing concerns about fuel efficiency, for example, and some want to be as actively involved as their captains and engineers in selecting systems and equipment. As a result, a handful of builders have undertaken studies on leading-edge solutions and put forth proposals to attract these buyers.
Even then, however, builders with semi-custom projects are finding that buyers can bring more good ideas to the table. Silver Wind, delivered by ISA Yachts last summer, is a prime example. Created as part of the all-fiberglass ISA 140 series, the 143-footer has a hybrid propulsion system that the Italian yard first revealed to potential clients five years prior. Add the owner’s ideas for noise-canceling technology in staterooms and a wheelhouse that presents data via augmented reality, and Silver Wind raises the bar even higher on what can be expected of semi-custom construction.
ISA Yachts has earned a reputation for delivering yachts with good turns of speed. It wanted to preserve that idea while offering buyers options for how they cruise. That led to ISA Yachts unveiling the diesel-electric system at the Genoa boat show in 2009.
To be clear, diesel-electric is not new technology, having been used in commercial craft for quite some time. Despite its proven fuel-consumption benefits, it has rarely been employed in yachting. The reasons for this are up for debate — owners aren’t educated enough about it or builders aren’t comfortable proposing it because it’s not traditional — but the owner of Silver Wind saw the benefits when he signed the contract in 2013. On his must-have list for his yacht were speed and fuel economy.
Silver Wind‘s propulsion package includes twin MTU 16V 4000 M93L diesels coupled to Kamewa water jets. Two 125 kW shaft generators are part of the system too. They take care of the air conditioning, lighting and other “hotel load” systems when the MTUs are running. In traditional diesel-only mode, Silver Wind can achieve a reported 32-knot maximum speed and a 26-knot cruise speed. The shaft generators save the 135 and 275 kW gensets from otherwise being under heavy draw from the everyday comfort amenities.
For times when the yacht is cruising long distances between destinations, she can further operate in full electric mode. For this, the electric motors connected to the gear box, not the MTUs, power the water jets. The gensets become responsible for the hotel load. ISA Yachts says Silver Wind is capable of 8 knots in electric mode, consuming just 23.8 gph. Range is an impressive 2,600 nautical miles. The gallon-per-nautical-mile fuel burn works out to be 2.9, versus 14.5 with the MTUs running.
Technology plays an important role aboard Silver Wind outside of the engine room too — this time thanks to the owner. A sensitive sleeper, he wanted to eliminate as many bothersome sounds as possible. Small, round microphones mounted overhead to each side of the bed in the master suite serve as noise-canceling devices, detecting sounds, analyzing the sound waves and playing back the sounds, out of phase. When the two groups of sound waves interact, they cancel each other out.
ISA Yachts measured sound levels here and in the VIP stateroom, where the noise-canceling devices are also installed. The yard says the readings are about 7 to 9 decibels lower than usual; hearing experts state that a 5-decibel difference is a clearly noticeable change, and a 10-decibel difference can translate to something being doubly loud (or doubly soft, as the case may be).
The owner had ideas for the wheelhouse as well. This is arguably the most interesting aspect of his input aboard Silver Wind. After all, how many owners get involved in specific instrument selection, and the selection of the specialists providing them?
To collaborate with ISA’s technical office, the owner brought in Team Italia, which focuses on megayachts and maxis, and Transas, which offers a variety of products for the marine industry. Team Italia created a version of its touch-screen-solution I-Bridge for Silver Wind. I-Bridge integrates the Transas T-Bridge, which pulls data from radar, sonar, digital charts and more into one of five large displays at the helm. The T-Bridge setup further presents the data via augmented reality, meaning real-world data enhanced with computer-generated data. The idea is to make navigating in poor visibility or congested harbors easier and safer, since the captain can see the true surroundings with the related data on one screen. All of this isn’t to say that Silver Wind‘s captain lacked input into the wheelhouse’s configuration, of course. He requested that yet another large helm display be reserved for monitoring the Kamewa water jets.
The owner of Silver Wind also paid attention to the interior. Between a multilevel master suite and eye-catching details from the salon to the guest staterooms, Silver Wind has a level of serene sophistication that even casual cruisers can appreciate. Nuvolari-Lenard fashioned both the general arrangement and the interior design with the owner. Together, they selected stingray leather for wrapping around handrails, walnut and ebony woods, and backlit, handmade glass insets for the salon bar and additional furnishings. Yet another highlight: formal dining positioned at the afterdeck doors. Reversing the typical locations for the salon and dining room is something more buyers may want to consider, since table guests benefit from vistas out over the transom.
Not every yard with semi-custom offerings would welcome the amount of input the owner of Silver Wind requested. Then again, not every owner is content with just picking out couch cushions. Even with the hybrid propulsion system being a first for ISA Yachts and the special requests made by the owner, Silver Wind was delivered on time. All told, she’s a study in how to exceed expectations.