The Design Approach: Humphreys Yacht Design

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“Fusing performance and functionality with aesthetic appeal, while never loosing sight of safety as the overarching consideration, is the design ethos that has driven all our work for Arksen”. Rob and Tom Humphreys, chief designers, Humphreys Yacht Design

HYD is a multidisciplinary design office. So when it comes to unifying the occasionally divergent demands of functionality, performance, safety and good looks, it benefits from being able to draw upon the knowledge accumulated from a remarkably diverse range of powerboat and sailboat designs.

HYD’s design diversity is the key to the success of the Arksen project. Given enough time, extreme specialisation in a singular type of vessel can produce an impressive depth of knowledge, but it does not generate the enormous breadth of knowledge nor the more open minded approach to design that comes from working across projects as disparate as a Volvo Ocean 70 race boat, a 37 metre powerboat capable of 50+ knots, and a galaxy of modern and traditionally styled motoryachts and sailboats from 20 to 120 foot. That breadth also encourages innovation and a healthy cross fertilisation of ideas; HYD has found that concepts small and large often flow between seemingly unrelated designs, and surprisingly often between sail and power.

If there is one aspect that permeates all of HYD’s designs, it is a focus on optimising performance. And the Arksen project is no different. Every increment of performance gain lowers fuel consumption, extends the cruising range, lessens pollution and reduces environmental impact, shortens potential passage times, and minimises running costs. Paradoxically, improvements in performance are actually more impactive on fast displacement vessels like the Arksen vessels than they are on high speed planing craft. Displacement motorboats are normally confined to single figure cruising speeds, but the Arksen vessels are designed to break through this archetypal displacement threshold and cruise happily in the low teens, and in the right conditions to surf downwind at far higher speeds.

HYD achieves these performance targets for Arksen in the following way. First, Rob and Tom analyse seakeeping behaviour and performance data from their back catalogue of powerboat and fast displacement sailboat hull designs. A preliminary Arksen hull form is then developed and run through HYD’s in-house CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) programmes to assess potential speed and powering requirements. After further refinement of the hull form, to complete the investigative process the penultimate hull shape is submitted to a comprehensive tank-test programme, where a large scale Arksen model is subjected to a battery of tests which include measuring performance relative to power, and analysing the vessel’s seakeeping behaviour – in waves and in calm conditions – in head seas, downwind, and in a beam sea. The behavioural findings and the quantitative data then feed back into the computer model to produce the final hull shape.

Several factors maximise safety at sea, amongst the more important are robust construction, excellent seakeeping, ergonomically sound design, and exemplary systems engineering. The ultimate aspect is the one which few powerboats are able to achieve without assistance; the ability to recover from a 180 degree rollover. HYD has designed the Arksen vessels with this almost unique ability, and it is meant to give their more intrepid owners the ultimate peace of mind when they are transiting the more tempestuous regions of the globe. However big a vessel, superyachts included, all design involves compromise – don’t let anybody try and tell you otherwise – but HYD’s aim has been to make owners feel that there are none on the Arksen vessels.

Mike Jones