Crafting a modern classic without falling prey to cliché is a challenge but not one that proved any great problem to Royal Huisman which, in the 56-metre Aquarius, has created a sleekly contemporary craft with a beautifully vintage allure.
“The owner wanted an elegant, muscular sailing yacht with a classic profile for family enjoyment,” explains Thys Nikkels, CEO of Dykstra Naval Architects which designed Aquarius’s exteriors.
A classy yet easy-to-handle yacht, in other words, with comfort was a priority as the owner also plans some serious world cruising combined with occasional racing in the likes of the St. Barths Bucket Regatta.
The main challenge was to create just the right alchemy between the modern and classic that incorporated the very best tried-and-tested solutions available. Aquarius’s forms are a complete departure from other yachts of a similar size built in recent years.
She is slender of line with a high stern, exuding a subtle retro beauty. That said, her many features and amenities ate into the onboard volumes which meant that the designers had to focus on creating a very efficient layout to guarantee the superb comfort required for all that extended passage-making.
A leading-edge ketch rig was deemed most suitable for this particularly high-sterned hull and to deliver the requisite versatility and reliability.
Aquarius’s underwater profile features a fixed keel and a balanced spade rudder to make her agile and easy to handle even in light breezes on long passages. In short, she is fast, nimble and great fun to sail.
Her 62.5-metre mast and boom are, like the rest of her rig, by Rondal and made from carbon-fibre with sail surface maximised given the fact she sports a Panamax rig.
Downwind, she spreads 3,000 sqm of sail and 1,390 sqm upwind. Because of this, her owners, who are expert sailors, insisted that the most advanced technologies be used to ensure that simplicity was the byword in handling that huge amount of sail.
Aquarius has twin helms amidships just behind the main deckhouse which melds effortlessly with the clean, uncluttered teak deck. The owner has exclusive use of the second deckhouse immediately aft of the mizzen mast.
The 56-metre’s interiors were styled by Mark Whiteley Design, producing a contemporary take on the signature New England relaxed informality and understated quality. Dark Cuban mahogany, selected for its warmth, glows alongside a subtle palette of ivories and creams.
The large rectangular windows are very much in step with the times, flooding the dinette with natural light and replacing the classic portholes of old. The classic maritime look of the interior is mixed in with plenty of modern flourishes, such as sliding bathroom doors to optimise space and improve lighting.
In addition to the master, there are two double guest cabins forward plus a twin to starboard which can convert to a four-berth. Needless to say, most of the attention was focused on the master suite which features at it centre a joinery-trimmed column which is actually actually the mizzen mast.
Where the latter breaks through the deck, the designers have created a stunning skylight that draws natural light into the interior. Aside from the master cabin proper, there is also a large en suite bathroom and a study. A private balcony affords gorgeous sea views too. Subtle oval portholes in the black topsides brighten the interior.
Once Aquarius is at anchor, she also reveals a variety of water toys that include a Laser, various kayaks and wind surfboards in addition to three tenders. A fold-out sea platform amidships means that owners and guests alike will board with ease. Wherever they are in the world.