The phrase “contemporary classic” is a bit of a cliché, but Royal Huisman’s 184-foot Aquarius is the embodiment of a timeless sailing superyacht integrated with the latest technology. The Dutch builder has become known for large, bespoke sailing yachts that have redefined that category, but Aquarius is a special design, reminiscent of a 1930s cruising yacht.
The profile and hull by noted Dutch firm Dykstra Naval Architects and interior by UK-based Mark Whiteley Design met the owner’s mandate for an elegant yet muscular sailboat that would be used for cruising the world with his family along with racing in the occasional superyacht regatta.
“He wanted a sailor’s yacht with a clean, uncomplicated look,” says the owner’s representative, Godfrey Cray. “Not a pirate ship, but a modern, fashionable, and chic-looking yacht with performance, reliability, and quality.”
As experienced sailors, the owners wanted Aquarius to be able to perform well but with a simple-to-use sail management system. Royal Huisman, mast specialist Rondal, and a team of rig specialists from Doyle NZ created the carbon-fiber masts, rigging, and sail plans, with the maximum downwind sails measuring a mind-blowing 32,292 square feet. The team also used modern technology to simplify sailing handling, including remote units that raise and lower the massive sails.
That involved an intricate system of electric winches, carbon-fiber masts, forestays, custom deck hardware, and other high-tech rigging. The yacht looks absolutely stunning under sail.
“We needed to provide good performance for long passages, but also ease of handling,” says Erik Wassen, senior Dykstra designer for Aquarius. “We wanted to make it possible to get set up and sail off an anchorage in well under an hour, sail for a few hours, and then still enjoy an afternoon of relaxation or water sports.”
The open design and long length of the topsides gave the designers space to add in social areas like the large lounge amidships and rear area in front of the twin helms. The open decks are a sea of uncolored teak with subtle gray caulking, adding to the classic look.
Whiteley’s interior is open and light-colored, taking full advantage of the yacht’s wide beam. The long, rectangular windows of the superstructure provide excellent natural light, while the sofas and other areas sit against the bulkheads, leaving plenty of interior space. An aft staircase leads down to the owner’s suite and guest accommodations. Like the saloon, the guest staterooms are light-colored, with dark-stained wood decor. Aquarius also has a gym and cinema room, with a high-tech sound system embedded in the walls.
The owner’s suite, defined by a mast disguised as a pillar, is wrapped in dark wood floors and cabinetry, with a bedroom, large en suite, and side office. It also has a private balcony overlooking the water.
Aquarius has three tenders in different garages for water sports and access to land, as well as a stairway that folds out from the side of the yacht so the owners and guests can board easily.
Royal Huisman is truly a special yard (the “Royal” designation is reserved for a handful of companies that distinguish themselves in their fields), and Aquarius is a truly special yacht, showing that the most modern superyachts do not have to look like something out of a sci-fi movie. Aquarius puts a shape to the words “modern classic.”