NauticExpo e-Magazine - #21 - Top Naval Architects - NauticExpo e-Magazine

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Top Naval Architects

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the world of top naval architects. NauticExpo e-magazine talked to some of the most interesting ones at the moment, such as Marc Van Peteghem from VPLP and Martin Fischer with Luna Rossa, to get to know their thoughts on design work and their future projects. Discover the amazing interior and exterior design of the Sanlorenzo SX88 and read the insights of Italian interior designer Piero Lissoni who took part in the project.

In this issue, you’ll also read about Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup project five years after its startup and a new unmanned, remotely-controlled fire-fighting vessel. Last but not least, as usual we tested an interesting boat for you: climb board the Palm Beach 65.

Happy reading!


Celia Sampol, Editor-in-Chief


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When a boat can go fast in light winds, you can deploy the foils early enough for maximum effect.
Marc Van Peteghem (Courtesy of TEDx)

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The French naval architecture firm VPLP is one of the world’s most highly regarded in offshore racing. Their latest triumph—designing the foiling monohull sailed to victory by Armel Le Cléac’h in the latest Vendée Globe. We spoke to VPLP co-founder Marc Van Peteghem about foils, Sea Bubbles and the company’s upcoming...

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I always try to look at design work as a scientific thing. Not as an artistic thing.
Martin Fischer (Photo caption, courtesy of Groupama Team France)


German Martin Fischer was deeply involved in the design of the AC-75, the foiling monohull for the next America’s Cup. Recently, he was part of the team behind the class rule. This puts him in the front row of interesting naval architects right now.


NauticExpo e-magazine: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Martin Fischer: I live in New Caledonia, a group of Pacific Islands, where my wife is from. Soon we will move to Italy though, because I need to be close to the Luna Rossa team base, where I am head of design.

Actually, I was not trained as a naval architect. I’m a physicist, specializing in fluid dynamics. I worked for many years in research and statistical analysis. But on the side, I have always worked with boats. I sailed A-class for about 15 years on an international level. In 2002, I met Franck Cammas from France, and started working for him. But it was actually not until 2010 that I switched completely to boat design, and gave up my previous career.

I have worked on several big trimarans in France – Groupama, Banque Populaire and Sodebo. I also worked with A-class cats, Formula 18 and several other smaller cats, and was also involved in Groupama’s Volvo Ocean Race campaign 2012/13 – which we won.

Luna Rossa team (Courtesy of Prada)

NE e-mag: How did you get to work with the new America’s Cup boat?

Martin Fischer: My speciality has always been fast, high-performance boats. Mainly on the hydrodynamic side, a bit less on the aerodynamic side, although that is also very interesting. Mostly it’s been hull shape and appendixes.

In 2013 I worked on a C-class project, also for Groupama. We won the Little America’s Cup, and right after that I received a call from Luna Rossa. They wanted me to work for them. This was the America’s Cup in San Francisco. Unfortunately, they pulled out after the rules were changed, and the project stopped.

So, I worked for another team during the cup in Bermuda. But now I’m back with Luna Rossa for the next cup. Luna Rossa is the official challenger and closely linked to Emirates Team New Zealand, the defenders.

With the new AC-75 class rule, an important aspect is that the control of the boat will be done by humans, not machines.

NE e-mag: What does it take to do a good job in your field?

Martin Fischer: I always try to look at design work as a scientific thing. Not as an artistic thing. I try to base my design work on numbers. On mathematics, physics, not on feelings or vague ideas. I find this important in all design work, and in the America’s Cup even more so. I have always done this, and I think that it makes a big difference.

NE e-mag: The class rule document for the AC-75 is publicly available, but it’s a long and hard read. Could you break down and explain the headlines?

Martin Fischer: On deck there will be more or less normal, manual maneuvers, but everything under water will be powered by batteries. Another big change is that most of the rules are open. Each team has to design their own hull, their own sail shape and so on. So, this time it will be an open development class. Another important aspect is that the control of the boat will be done by humans, not machines.

Luna Rossa (Courtesy of Carlo Borlenghi)

NE e-mag: Do you expect some trickle-down effect from this development?

Martin Fischer: The power pack technology will be very interesting. Efficient systems to obtain, store and use power will be crucial to run control systems for foils. I don’t know what kind of configuration it will be, but I’m pretty sure the concept of foiling for monohulls – not only foil assisted, but really flying – somehow will find its way into normal sailing.

NE e-mag: How do you see your own professional future?

Martin Fischer: Until 2021 I will be involved with Luna Rossa. Hopefully, we will win the cup – that’s why we’re all working on this project. If that happens, I will be very keen to defend it. So I mainly see my future in that domain. But besides that, I’m also very interested in big trimarans, the so-called Ultime Class, the 100 footers. So I hope to be able to work in that direction too.

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  • The Palm Beach 65 (Courtesy of Kevin Green)

    The American-inspired and formerly Australian-built Palm Beach is a premium brand for the seriously discerning owner. The company—now based in Malaysia—is run by the champion skipper of the supermaxi Wild Oats XI and this degree of competitiveness and precision is inherent in the latest Palm Beach 65, as we found out during a sea trial in Sydney.


    Its navy blue hull is low-slung with sheer down to the tumblehome near the elegant transom which looked understated yet distinctive amid the towering box-like fiberglass boats around it.

    Available in express or flybridge models with a highly customized layout, our review boat was hull #9 in the flybridge style. The range goes from the 42 to this flagship (plus an upcoming 70) and includes some popular selling models such as the 55 which sold over 30 hulls. All have the distinctive sheer lines and wide transoms that ensure these boats not only look good but also plane well, while the flybridge models have carbon topsides for weight-saving and increased stability.

    Aft deck of the Palm Beach 65 (Courtesy of Palm Beach)

    The layout of our review boat had the owner’s suite in the forepeak with guest cabins midship— two singles that combine to a double—while the galley was down here as well plus a small crew quarter. This left the saloon for lounging. The open plan saloon was classically styled with gleaming brightwork—varnished Burmese teak and chromed metal on the portside dinette table with lounge opposite; which were comfortable double settees.


    On deck, thick teak cladding gave good grip underfoot as we moved to the flybridge; the climb up ladder was steep but the effort was worth it once there. Without being towering and avoiding too much windage, it blended in nicely with the low slung hull while giving the steerer commanding views on the centralized console.

    At Sea

    At sea, with the throaty roar of the 1,000 HP Volvo shaft drives resounding we accelerated past the Sydney Opera House, with a tad over 30 knots showing on the Furuno GPS yet requiring only 30% tabs which showed the natural trim of this sleek 70 footer. After maximum speed was reached, we slowed to an economical cruising speed of 22 knots with fuel burn on the Volvo gauges showing 160 liters per hour in total; giving a large range of 800 miles.

    Comfort and style (Courtesy of Palm Beach)

    For slow handling, the EJS joystick was used to control the fore and aft thrusters to ease us astern and then sideways, something that owners will appreciate when coming to the fuel dock and at those far flung anchorages that this Palm Beach 65 is eminently suited for. But see for yourself in Cannes in 2019 when the Palm Beach will have some vessels there.

    Palm Beach 65 Specifications

    • Price: AUD $4.2million (as reviewed)
    • Length overall: 21.3m 70 ft
    • Beam: 5.85 m
    • Draft: 1.3 m
    • Displacement: (dry): 30,000 kg
    • Fuel: 6,000 l
    • Water: 1,100 l
    • Holding tank: 400 l
    • Engine (standard): twin Volvo D13 1,000 HP shaft drives. (Rated to 2,400 RPM,12.8 liter in-line 6-cylinder D13, combines fuel injection with twin-entry turbo charging, 1,635 kg weight), Gearbox MGX 5126 A, Gear Ratio: 2.04:1
    • Design: Palm Beach/Andy Dovell

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    RALamander Artist's impression of the vessel (Courtesy of Robert Allan)

    Toxic smoke or explosion risks have always been a hazard to marine fire-fighting crews. Vancouver-based naval architects Robert Allan and global technology giant Kongsberg Maritime plan to help eliminate that by developing unmanned, remotely-controlled fire-fighting vessels.


    The vessels—with the project name RALamander—are specifically designed to address the security and safety needs of modern ports. Robert Allan (RA) specializes in response vessels, particularly fire-fighting ships (fireboats), which it has built for major ports in North America and Asia.

    Speaking to NauticExpo e-magazine, RA European customer relations manager, Sami Uotinen, explained: “Our collaboration with Kongsberg is to develop a radically new, remotely-operated fireboat that will allow first responders to attack dangerous port fires more aggressively and safer than ever before.”

    “We plan a range of automatic functions, including dynamic positioning, water spray target holding, and line protection.”

    “Fires involving containers, petrochemicals, shore-side structures, or vessels with an explosion risk or emitting toxic smoke, are hugely dangerous in ports. They may delay, or even prevent, manned assets from responding effectively. The un-crewed RALamander will offer in-close fire-fighting and an ‘eye in the fire’ capability that keeps marine fire-fighting professionals out of harm’s way. RALamander can be deployed on its own or serve as a force multiplier with conventional fire-fighting assets.”

    Kongsberg’s control & communications system will feature a high-bandwidth, low latency wireless link to a semi-portable operator console that can be located on a manned fireboat, or a vessel of opportunity. Like other Kongsberg autonomous control systems, the one being developed for RALamander will allow for a range of configurable, future-upgradable autonomy levels to suit an operator’s or a port’s evolving needs.

    Personnel Less Exposed to Risks

    Uotinen stated that RA and Kongsberg expect to see the first vessel launched and commissioned within the next four years. “The first in the series will be the 20 m-long RALamander 2000, equipped with fire-fighting (FiFi) grade 1 capability, with a total pumping capacity of 2,400 m3/hr with optional foam.

    “Though it’s designed to work close up to fires, RALamander is not built with any special material, but it will be equipped with a spray system to protect the hull and components,” Uotinen added. “We are also working on a higher speed, a 15-16 m-long variant.”


    “RALamander 2000 will have a retractable mast that can bring one of the three monitors to a high point of attack for shipboard or dock fires. We plan a range of automatic fire-fighting functions, including dynamic positioning, water spray target holding, and ‘line protection’. With the latter, RALamander automatically moves back and forth along a line while directing protective spray cover on shore structures or vessels threatened by a fire.”

    A low-profile design also makes it possible to attack under-wharf and marina fires remotely. “If a burning vessel poses a threat to its surroundings,” Uotinen continued, “RALamander can be used to tow it a safe distance by means of its ‘grapnel emergency towing’ system.”

    Finally, the vessel’s versatility may also offer new ways to obtain, maintain and operate port fire-fighting assets. “Since RALamander can be operated from a safe stand-off distance during an incident, and personnel are less exposed to risks,” Uotinen concluded, “commercial entities such as tug or pilot vessel operators could be in a position to offer fire protection services to a port.”


    Read more about fire-fighting ships on NauticExpo website.


    Monica Hutchings

    Monica Hutchings is a Canadian writer and translator who has worked on everything from technical descriptions to academic journals. She is also our in-house English translator.

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    Abigail Saltmarsh

    Abigail Saltmarsh is a freelance journalist with 25 years’ experience for national magazines (The New York Times, International Herald Tribune).

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    Øyvind Bordal

    Øyvind Bordal is a norwegian writer and sailor, based in Denmark and Caribbean.


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    Kevin Green

    Kevin Green is a Sydney-based yachting journalist who contributes to international boating publications.


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    Celia Sampol

    Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She’s the editor-in-chief of NauticExpo e-magazine and MedicalExpo e-magazine.

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    Tony Slinn

    Formerly editor-in-chief of IHS Maritime, Tony Slinn is an independent maritime journalist.

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