As the industry continues to grow, so naturally do its stakeholders. One company that already has a head start is Hydro Tec, a design studio with a lot of team spirit and more than 25 superyacht projects in the works that, in total, are more than 1,000 meters long and 10 000GT.
Celebrating its 27th year in business this year, Hydro Tec has achieved several milestones, including the design of the award-winning RSY 38M Emooceanthe Columbus 40 Sport Hybrid Mrs D and Leudin I and the 80 meter Columbus Classic Dragon. Looking back, one project in particular that cemented the studio’s impressive range of services is the Flexplorer range. With one already at sea, Aurelia, and three others in the shed, the studio’s founder, Sergio Cutolo, recalls how the Flexplorer concept was brought to life by the Hydro Tec team, how it evolved and became the popular form of flexible exploration that it is today. .
The concept was already developed
“Many years ago a client requested a design for a ghost ship which also had the typical characteristics of a cruising yacht. This ship would support the mother ship by 60 meters and have enough space to carry large tenders, an optional touchpad for a small helicopter, and luxurious accommodation for several guests, including the owner and his family when the mothership was chartered.
This project has been shelved. However, some time later, Vasco Buonpensiere, co-founder and sales manager of Cantiere delle Marche (CdM), contacted on behalf of a regular client who wanted an exploration yacht that could accommodate a large tender. It was only natural to adapt the 38-meter ghost ship project to the needs of the client, who at the time was the proud owner of the CdM Darwin 102, Hvalross.”
Naval architecture optimized for all-weather comfort and efficiency
“The first Flexplorer has a unique bulbous bow design with a bulb that does not extend beyond the overall length of the hull, resulting in improved penetration and reduced forward wave formation.
The addition of a flared bow was for aesthetic and functional reasons to meet the owner’s request for a classic looking vessel designed to tackle all kinds of weather conditions in safety and comfort. In addition, Aurelia is the first CdM yacht to receive two pairs of stabilizing fins, further maximizing comfort on board. This was proven during sea trials, where she was able to reach a top speed of 15 knots with very low fuel consumption. At a cruising speed of 10 knots, the recorded fuel consumption was around 70 l/h for both engines, far exceeding the customer’s efficiency demands (range and consumption), and allowed a range of 8,000 nautical miles – enough for nearly three Atlantic Ocean crossings without any stopovers.”
The entire interior fittings have been revamped
“Then we increased the interior space so as to retain space on the aft deck for an 8.5 meter tender. To achieve this, we have shortened the length of the main hall, kitchen and living/dining room and widened the width to almost nine metres. By doing so, we reclaimed a lot of deck space and were able to resize the master cabin to match what could be found on a much larger yacht.
Another benefit of the wider beam was that the central area, consisting of the kitchen, stairs and hallway hall, could be kept in a widebody configuration to gain wasted space lengthways.
The living room was inspired by Paolo Caliari
“Our design for the main saloon was inspired by the work of architect Paolo Caliari, who had already been built aboard two yachts by Turquoise Yachts in the early 2000s. These two yachts, 40 and 42.5 meters in long, feature wide lounges to starboard with a traditional hallway connecting the crew area to port.This solution completely reversed the typical lounge layout as normally after entering through the aft door one would encounter the lounge and saloon forward, in this case the classic layout is turned 90°, bringing the dining room to port and the saloon to starboard.
This arrangement has proven effective for several reasons. First of all, the passage from the sliding door from the stern to the bow is via a direct corridor which does not cross either the conversation area or the dining room. Secondly, the conversation area faces outwards and offers excellent views, also thanks to the large 3 meter side window.
Teamwork helped create solutions
“The layout and handling of the large 8.5 meter tender was an unresolved challenge. However, by working together, just as we have done for the other 30 yachts we have created together to date, Hydro Tec and CdM have found a solution.
To maximize space for the client, we chose not to have a crane on board, as the preference was for the aft deck to remain completely clear when the tender was in the water. More importantly, the owner wanted to be able to launch the tender without the boat heeling during the maneuver.
Ennio Cecchini, the co-founder of CdM, suggested the idea of adding an A-frame, an idea we had always harbored but never managed to put into practice. The A-frame chosen was one that is perfectly compatible with the concept of a pleasure boat.
The yard’s usual supplier, Advanced Mechanical Solutions (AMS), took a year to fine-tune and integrate a hydraulically controlled all-carbon structure on board. This device can lift a three-ton tender and throw it aft without heeling the yacht. The frame is housed entirely under the teak deck to keep the space free when the dinghy has been unloaded.
The exterior appearance has been perfected
“The first 39.37 meter Flexplorer, Aureliawas launched in 2020. And for the first time, the world saw how its design was inspired by supply ships and modernized through extraordinary technology with elegance and balanced proportions.
Some highlights of her exterior design are the way the ventilation ducts and the companionway to the engine room have been moved to the side to house the stairs leading to the upper deck. This part of the design allows perfect circulation on board, but also gives the possibility of being able to hide the asymmetry of the superstructure when observing the boat from the quay.
Desirable amenities have been added
“As its name suggests, the Flexplorer concept was designed to be flexible and adapt to customization. The hull design can be extended to around 45 meters, and there is the option of adding an infinity pool that can serve as a toy rack.
Inside, the layout is fairly conventional with four adjoining guest cabins on the lower deck and the owner’s cabin on the main foredeck. Other key interior areas are the gym, which benefits from skylights set into the floor of the upper deck, and the large beach club of over 100 square meters with two collapsible bulwarks. There is also the possibility of rigging a cinema screen between the two carrying arms of the crane.
The Flexplorer is a proven success
“The Flexplorer has become a new design path for Hydro Tec. Its success, I believe, is due to the studio’s ability to expand the design and provide some of the best and most efficient cases on the market. Hydro Tec has become a specialist in all sectors of industry.
To find out how Hydro Tec can help you with your superyacht project in any way, contact the studio directly here.
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