Cruising World: Innovation in Boatbuilding

Thanks to modern advances in boatbuilding, onboard systems and technology, the sport of cruising is poised for some exciting times ahead.

Andrew Parkinson, Amy Alton and Ed Sherman

Lithium batteries deliver countless options on the Hylas H57.

Hylas Yachts, whose Swiss Army knife of an H57 won for Best Overall in the 2022 Boat of the Year contest, has a company philosophy that is somewhat of a testing lab in itself. 

“We still receive a ton of client feedback and are constantly improving on the H57—things like slightly extending the hardtop, a better-looking spray shield, moving the water heater to a more serviceable location, and more,” says Hylas Chief Operating Officer Peggy Huang. 

The team prioritizes the innovation process, employing people who are constantly driven and incentivized to improve the product and how it’s made. According to Huang, this culture of innovation extends to awareness of clients’ needs. 

“Some of our best resources are our clients,” Huang says. “It’s very rare that a new-build client hasn’t spent a great deal of time considering the options they might wish to introduce into their dream yacht. We actually have a great network of loyal Hylas cruisers who are constantly sharing ideas and flagging up new developments.

“So often, performance in yachting is measured in knots, windspeeds and polar plots,” Huang continues. “The reality is that durability, longevity, ease of handling, comfort, and efficiency are all part of how a yacht performs relative to the objectives set by the manufacturer and designer. Durability and longevity come from developments in the composites being used in construction. Not only are the materials important, but also how they’re formed. The introduction of vacuum infusion into mainstream yachtbuilding has helped considerably, as has the use of CNC equipment in the forming of component parts.”

Huang also says that the vast majority of Hylas’ suppliers are constantly striving to better meet those needs, directly benefiting the end product. 

“Everything from North Sails and their new 3Di technology to the ability to combine advances in lithium batteries with variable-speed air conditioning has really got people’s attention,” Huang says. “Although the wind is our primary source of power, we do have to keep an eye on the new hybrid developments in engines as solar power becomes increasingly efficient. The ability of batteries to hold a charge while reducing in size and weight is enormously important. If it isn’t already standard for other builders, then lithium has to be a consideration. We get a big response at shows when cruisers realize that the combination of battery improvement and air-conditioning efficiency means they can get a good night sleep with the AC running and no need for a generator.”

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