Updated: Nov 19
Michael Köhler: a long-lasting naval knowledge pushed him to change the course of yachting towards innovative sustainable high-tech solutions.
Bert Houtman: designing submersibles is a matter of advanced know-how and sensitivity to the beauty of the oceans.
The Monaco Yacht Show, under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, has been the cradle of relevant innovation in super yachting industry since its establishment in 1991. Set in the natural gulf of Port Hercules, the event showcases the most prestigious vessels and the latest technical innovation applied to sailing and yachting together with all related devices and advanced toys.
MONACŒCOART® attended the event to collect the latest trends for avantgarde technology.
We had the pleasure to meet Michael Köhler, founder of Silent-Yachts a new line of comfortable luxury yachts largely fuelled by solar energy thanks to a wide arrangement along the entire length of the vessel. Backed by forty years of naval knowledge travelling oceans on board conventional motorboats and sailboats, with his wife Heike, he became persuaded of the need to change the course in order to reduce human impact on the marine environment. After extensive research and testing stages supported by a skilled work team, he conceived a functional yachting limited series able to balance comfort, glamour and sustainability.
We were pleased to meet Bert Houtman, director of U-Boat Worx and successful software-industry entrepreneur, who shared some preliminary insights about an incoming project that will revolutionise the use of submarines with a focus on sustainable energy production. Founded in 2005 by him, the leading Dutch company has acquired a specific expertise in designing submersibles for individuals, commercial, research and scientific survey as well as underwater film productions. All vessels result from a well-established in-house engineering capability to reach the highest standards.
TOPICS Michael Köhler= ECO-FRIENDLY TECHNOLOGIES >> FULLY-ELECTRIC IN YACHTING INDUSTRY, IS IT FEASIBLE? >> YACHTING MARKET AFTER THE PANDEMIC
Interview with Michael Köhler (M.K.), founder of Silent-Yachts - VisionF Yachts.
MONACŒCOART® : Michael Köhler, which environmentally friendly technologies are you using?
M.K.: On the new Silent Vision F 82 we conceived a bigger roof to best comply with solar panels within a fully customisable cabin and layout. The hybrid propulsion system allows you to choose sailing with diesel engines or electric motors plus batteries refilled by solar panels power. We use also aluminium to prevent the hull getting too hot under the sun even if painted black since it is a very good heat conductor, perfect for solar-panel crafts. The 80 series, then, was meant to be purely electric powered with 26Kw – 40kw peak (according to the model) through solar panels, positioned on the roof, the best solution to get sun during the hottest hours up to about 150kw/h – 250 Kw/h per day, which is a lot for each size. You can run most of the on-board appliances and even sail for a few miles daily without any generator needed. However, we still use generator but in a completely different way just to refill the batteries. In other words, we start designing the solar roof to achieve the best clean-energy performance, then we deal with what is under. So, our yachts are really ‘green’ boats, we are not talking about greenwashing.
Photos >> Silent VisionF 82 (left side) and Silent 120 (Right Side) © Silent-Yachts VisionF Yachts
MONACŒCOART® : In the automotive sector there is a debate about how to reach the ambitious goals to push full electric by mid-century, do you think that it is practical for the yachting industry as well?
M.K.: What was considered a niche product few years ago it is not anymore. Everybody understood that the car industry should change. The shipping industry will follow the same trail. I do believe that in a few years we will have many brands offering hybrid or electric propulsion systems. We have anticipated the times optimizing the photovoltaic systems. For me, function is more important than design which is of course fundamental in the end. Many people who can afford super yachts have already electric cars. Being sensitive to high quality of life, they therefore do not understand why they cannot use an electric or hybrid marine vessel as well. I am absolutely sure that an increasing number of people will choose electric boats. It cannot be stopped anymore.
MONACŒCOART® : How is the market going after the pandemic?
M.K.: It has been a whirlwind during twelve months. Three great trends have converged to make our boats enormously successful. The rebound in yacht sales since Covid-19 has been already well documented. But in addition to that the growth of environmental sensibilities and the recognition that two hulls provide a far more luxurious platform for life at sea, and you have a recipe for unprecedented demand. This is the age of the super catamaran and about twelve of them are now under construction. A recent partnership with Coşkun Bayraktar, founder of the Viaport Group – VisionF set in Turkey, together with the existing production in Italy, has opened up more opportunities, having more than five hundred dedicated staff in the Turkish department.
Interview with Bert Houtman (B.H.), director of U-Boat Worx.
MONACŒCOART® : Bert Houtman, what makes your submarines special?
B.H.: We have been working to give more and more spaces in our submersed hulls creating the NEXUS series, besides the existing NEMO’s production which gave us much visibility and it is now more economically accessible. It allows users having a truly immersive aquatic experience down to a depth of 200 meters through the fully transparent elliptical pressure hull. Passenger comfort, ease of embarkation and field-of-view are taken to a next level. The C-Researcher versatile series is offering high standards as well to perform at best while being used by scientists, researchers, documentary makers and explorers. Winning the Red Dot Product Design Award for the second consecutive year as for ‘C-Researcher 3’ in a row is a crowning achievement for our company.
MONACŒCOART® : What is the next level represented by ?
B.H.: The 37.5-meters submarine yacht Nautilus we have just unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show 2022 is definitely our latest challenge, currently work in progress. This revolutionary submersible diesel-hybrid super yacht can plunge down to 200 meters depth, which is something surprising and it will offer a truly comfortable interior design with a wide range of facilities onboard. The wide inner spaces (from 50 m2 up to 150m2) allow different uses, including both sailing on the water surface and leisure underwater cruises equipped with restaurants, bars, casinos, freshwater pools etc. In other words, we aim at creating a true Under Water Entertainment Platform (UWEP) with the largest vessel we have ever designed. The idea also is to make all visitors to safely contemplate the beauty of the underwater world, reducing the impact on the marine ecosystem as much as possible. That makes the achievement unbelievable in my perspective but it makes a dream come true. Hopefully, it will become a successful boat pretty soon. ***
Photos >> The Under Water Entertainment Platform - UWEP: the upper-deck glamorous use and the underwater restaurant and leisure space, rendering by © U-Boat Worx
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