Vripack’s 217-ft. Futura concept is a fossil-free hybrid with a glass superstructure, an electricity-generating kite and a big sense of whimsy.
Amsterdam-based Vripak believes that progress requires the occasional moon shot, a project that pushes boundaries and synthesizes existing technologies in a way that recreates expectations. The design studio has always operated under the theory that few will seek something that doesn’t seem possible.
Futura aims to show the world that a full-featured superyacht can combine elegance and sustainability. “By approaching sustainability as a design challenge, we’re not waiting for owners to request this technology, we’re presenting them with a concept based on sustainable solutions that currently exist,” Bart Bouwhuis, Vripack’s co-creative director, told Robb Report. “Owners just need to want it.”
That “wanting” starts with a curvaceous, eye-catching exterior meant to “mimic nature,” in co-creative director Marnix Hoekstra’s words. Slender and elegant overall, Futura stands about one-third as tall as other yachts in its 220-ft. size range. A narrow bow that widens amidships is reminiscent, when seen from above, of a whale’s body, and the glass superstructure has rhombus-shaped ribs that recreate the shape and stability of a cocoon. The glass also saves considerable weight while giving the upper decks a unique, see-through quality.
“You can see everything on the boat,” says Bouwhuis. “In practice, this means that everybody on Futura can be doing their own thing, but you’ve still got this consciousness of where your family and friends are.”
Inside, a unique split-level arrangement starts with a lounge area that opens off a swim platform. The lounge leads to a “beach house” and the six guest suites. The lounge also provides access to the main deck, where an alfresco dining area connects to a pool and a sun deck (it also functions as a helipad.) On another level up, a full DJ booth overlooks the pool and deck, so guests can party like pros.
The fossil-free features start with hybrid diesel-electric engines that use plant-based diesel, which reduces CO2 emissions by 90 percent and SOx and NOx by 30 percent. A gasifier optimizes the fuel mix to minimize unburned diesel in the exhaust, while a catalyzer neutralizes whatever does not combust.
A kite that releases at the push of a button cranks a generator that sends electricity to the all-organic water-salt-and-sand based batteries. This “bio” set-up offers capacity equivalent to lithium-ion, with infinite recharges, but it can’t replicate the high-intensity discharge of the more common chemical cells.
Hoekstra and Bouwhuis are quick to point out that despite the name, Futura is not about some science-fiction future. Instead, she’s designed on technologies and systems that are in use already.
“We made a decision, to go more with the cutting edge than the leading edge to show what was possible,” says Hoekstra.