Superyacht Smack Talk

The team behind the 154-foot Nilaya from Royal Huisman throws down with news that the yacht has arrived in Antigua ready to race.
Royal Huisman Nilaya
The 154-foot Royal Huisman Nilaya is an aluminum-carbon hybrid design. Courtesy Royal Huisman

“This yacht is going to turn some heads wherever she is, but particularly at the Bucket.”

So says Jim Pugh, co-founder of Reichel/Pugh Yacht Design in San Diego, one of the driving forces behind the 154-foot Nilaya that Royal Huisman built in the Netherlands. The yacht was delivered to its owners in June. It spent the summer in the Mediterranean “tuning up for racing,” according to the shipyard, and has now crossed the Atlantic. Nilaya arrived in Antigua in December—with about three months to prepare for the March 2024 St. Barths Bucket Regatta.

The fast Atlantic crossing, according to Royal Huisman, “gave her owner and pro race team captain Bouwe Bekking and skipper Romke Loopik plenty of all-conditions experience at the helm.” There are already 10,000 nautical miles under the yacht’s keel.

The owner says his previous yacht, a 112-foot Baltic, won many regattas during the 12 years he owned it, but for this Nilaya, he instructed the yard and designers to create “a fast yacht that can win in a superyacht regatta.”

Royal Huisman Nilaya
Nilaya is definitely built for racing, but it’s also designed for comfort. Courtesy Royal Huisman

To that end, Royal Huisman says it built Nilaya using European Space Agency methodology. Nilaya is an aluminum-carbon hybrid designed with finite element analysis to direct the right material, or combination of materials, and the right thicknesses of those materials to handle the exact stresses in every part of the hull and deck.

For its part, Reichel/Pugh analyzed 10 years of historical wave data from the Eastern Caribbean and Greece, ultimately testing 12 models before developing the final hull shape.

Royal Huisman’s sister company Rondal was brought in for carbon-fiber expertise. As just one example of Rondal’s contributions, it supplied a runner arrangement that reportedly saves 2,646 pounds of weight, keeping the yacht lighter for racing.

Royal Huisman Nilaya
The sailing superyacht’s team is currently in Antigua preparing for the 2024 St. Barths Bucket Regatta in March. Courtesy Royal Huisman

Racing pedigree aside, this yacht also has plenty of luxurious creature comforts, with Italian studio Nauta Design collaborating on the project ( Nilaya is the largest sailing yacht Nauta has completed). And yet, even with the interior, light weight for racing was top of mind. Some of the bulkheads and door frames are carbon. Instead of heavy insulation to reduce noise and vibration, Royal Huisman developed composite panels made of cork, foam, honeycomb and other materials.

According to Royal Huisman, Nilaya is “arguably the most advanced sailing yacht” the shipyard has ever delivered.

Royal Huisman Nilaya
After a summer sailing in the Med, Nilaya crossed the Atlantic to Antigua in December. Courtesy Royal Huisman

“Royal Huisman was not afraid to invest in research to explore and develop all manner of innovative weight-saving possibilities,” said the owners’ project manager, Nigel Ingram of MCM Newport. “They really chased the details.”

And now, we all shall see if Nilaya leaves other yachts chasing its transom on the regatta circuit.

How long did it take to create Nilaya? Three years, including one year of preparation and two years under construction.

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