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Oct / Nov 2011
Best of Both Worlds

Writer: Salim Hanna / Photographers: Ray Main, Bugsy Gedlek

Twizzle is a high-performance, high-tech sailing yacht, able to just as easily race in a regatta as cruise the high seas in luxury and comfort. It’s a boat that ticks all the boxes.


‘The Adventures of Twizzle’ is a children’s puppet series, featuring a boy doll with the ability to extend his arms and legs to incredible lengths. It was produced in 1957, by Englishman Gerry Anderson’s production company, AP films (later renamed Century 21 Productions). At the time, AP films was on the verge of bankruptcy but this was Anderson’s breakthrough. He would later be renowned in his futuristic television programmes for high-tech ‘tricks’ such as specially modified marionettes, in a process called ‘supermarionation,’ and in particular as employed in ‘The Adventures of Twizzle’,

Fast-forward half a century later and you have the inspiration for another super-instrument, though not for television at all this time. Believe it or not, ‘The Adventures of Twizzle’ became the impetus for something else that could also go to great lengths: a superyacht. The owners of Twizzle commissioned this 57.5-metre Royal Huisman flybridge ketch as a replacement for a namesake 55-metre Feadship motoryacht that they had previously cruised the world with. Like most owners, they graduated through the boating ranks after having started out on the water with a 34-foot Sunseeker, before working their way through a series of ever-larger yachts including Andromeda La Dea, a 47-metre Perini Navisailing boat. Nevertheless, upgrading (that being the key word) from Twizzle the motoryacht to Twizzle the sailing one must have been a daunting task for the team charged with creating her. You see, marrying the speed and agility of a sailing yacht with the comfort, accoutrements and go-anywhere-ability of a motor yacht is one tall order. Then again, the main motif underpinning the creation of this yacht, according to the manufacturer’s manifesto, is to “represent the art of the only just possible.”

One of the first problems to overcome was the issue of the keel. A low draught was an absolute necessity for the owners who, through the use of their Feadship, had come to realise that some of the world’s most beautiful cruising destinations are located within shallow waters. Yet, they also wanted to be able to race Twizzle in the odd regatta, so perfect stability and agility were just as important. Ed Dubois designed the hull, the appendages and the high-performance carbon-fibre rig. The English naval architect, whose forte is fast sailing superyachts, had to tick all the boxes on the owners’ huge wish list. “An interesting challenge,” Dubois admits. His solution was devised with a 3.8-metre-draught ballast keel with an integrated, hydraulically operated swing centreboard that provides additional lift and stability, keeping her on a steady course at a maximum draught of 10.8 metres. His other breakthrough was an underwater profile design, allowing the interior to be as spacious as possible but also featuring a low-wetted surface for minimal drag, excellent close-hauled characteristics, plus the previously mentioned low draught.

Dubois’ exterior architecture design called for a Panamax ketch rig mast of over 60 metres, which is the tallest that can fit under the Panama Canal Bridge of the Americas at low tide, carrying up to 1,800 square metres of sail. Her performance was further enhanced by continuous stability and a low centre of gravity, no matter what the position of the keel, especially since there are 100 tonnes of ballast designed around the swing keel, and not the centreboard itself.

As Jurjen van ’t Verlaat of Royal Huisman explains, “If you are looking at a Huisman boat, unlike with other manufacturers, you will never be able to tell it from the outside.” That’s apparently because there isn’t a signature style, like with other shipyards, since they do not work with one particular architect for the exterior, but a different one each time. And so each one brands its own spirit of individuality that distinguishes it from the rest. “However, you will always be able experience our boats on the inside.” That is how you can discern the stamp of Royal Huisman. “It is the longstanding quality that characterises our shipyard.”

And what an interior it is. This project called upon the interior and exterior expertise of Redman Whiteley Dixon, headed by Justin Redman. “Our source of inspiration for the elegant sweeping lines of the superstructure and the huge deckhouse windows was the outstretched wings of an albatross gliding above the surface of the water,” enthused Redman. The interior décor work was executed by Emily Todhunter of Todhunter Earle. It features a clean, modern look, using predominantly European oak and mellow, earth-coloured fabrics to create a warm and architecturally chic ambience. In the direction of the bow, the main saloon is adjoined by the large central lobby, which leads to the three guest cabins and the owners’ suite to starboard; the stairs opposite lead down to the captain’s cabin. The design team converted the forward section of the main deck, which normally serves as the bridge, into a ‘theatre lounge’, reserved for the owners and their guests. From here guests can enjoy a superb view of the foredeck, the sails and the passing scenery from the comfort of the sofa that converts to an informal dining area (perfect for breakfast at sea), served by the galley that is to be found down a flight of stairs to port. Those stairs also lead to the crew’s quarters, which are designed to accommodate a maximum of 12 people.

One feature that is particularly appreciated by everyone aboard is that Twizzle enables its owners and members to control the lighting, the entertainment and climate systems on the yacht, adjust the blinds in their cabins and even summon a crew member for any orders via their iPad, iPod or iPhone. Furthermore, Twizzle features its own Alto Bridge mobile phone network, which enables guests to make calls even in areas of the yacht with no mobile phone reception.

Another technological breakthrough is a dynamic positioning system, manufactured by the U.S. firm Marine Technologies. This system basically holds Twizzle in a geographic position without the need to drop anchor. A combination of a variable-pitch propeller and the high-performance bow and stern thrusters action the positioning data, keeping the yacht perfectly positioned at all times.

The final truly standout feature would have to be the large hydraulic bathing platform at the rear. It’s in fact a two-storey affair and a “masterpiece of engineering” according to van ’t Verlaat. Without a single visible hinge, ram or cable the platform can be lowered or raised depending on the sea conditions and the upper stairs provide access to the spacious lazarette, where all the diving equipment and toys are stowed.

All in all, the final product is everything the owners must have hoped for: a spacious, fast and highly attractive sailing boat that has all the benefits of a spacious motor yacht. Not only will this highly desirable boat bring years of joy to its proud owners but she’s bound to attract a lot of attention in the charter market too.

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