When Hermes met Wally or New applications for Ramform

What would your dream yacht look like if you let your mind flow free from conventions and traditions (and had a well-filled bank account)? The Joint Venture between the iconic Parisian house Hermès and the equally iconic Monaco based yacht brand Wally presented their view on this concept at the Monaco yacht Show recently and filled the yacht world with amazement. What was shown was a floating palace, 58m long and 38m wide, with a radical look at every aspect of yachting or rather living at sea. The creation is called WHY 58x38.

The background is as follows. Back in Norway, a naval architect named Roar Ramde had been struggling for years with the general requirements for more deck load and a greater deck area but was restricted by the conventional ship’s limitations regarding stability. After designing about 50 conventional ships his self confidence was strong enough to go outside the brackets set up by traditions. He just widened the aft part of the hull until he got the deck area, the deck load and stability he needed, and then added a pointing bow for speed.

A 27m Cable Ship to begin with

With his experience and knowledge of hydrodynamics he managed the trick, without increasing the specific required power (power/displacement) for propulsion. As an extra bonus, he also ended up with a very silent ship with low vibrations. The first ship with this design was a 27m cable ship for the skerries of the Norwegian coast. 

The next ship and best known as the first large Ramform was Marjata, a Norwegian surveillance ship built in 1993. On one occasion one of PGS (Petroleum GeoServices) ship was moored just behind Marjata and the company’s scientists and engineers became very enthusiastic. That is what we need!

They quickly recognized that the silent operations and wide stern made her perfect for seismic acquisition. The unique broad stern design and ultra-stable hull enables quick and safe deployment and the retrieval of massive volumes of towed seismic equipment. Today PGS have a large fleet of Ramforms with Ramform Sterling and Ramform Sovereign being the latest contributions, commissioned July 2009.

SSPA has been involved in the development and testing of each generation of these vessels from the very beginning. Sessions with us have included tests in all our laboratories (Towing tank, Cavitation tunnel and Maritime Dynamic Laboratory (MDL)), ranging from standard tests to many special studies to improve the performance and details of this family of vessels, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.

Idea, solution – and questions

When Hermès and Wally were looking for a base for their new concept they identified Ramform as the ideal choice. With its sinusoidal hull it offers exceptional stability and unprecedented volume for its displacement. But in order to adapt it into a motor yacht, some other features had to be checked. Would the motion characteristics be very different from a standard yacht of a comparable size? Of particular interest were the motions and accelerations at anchor since this is a condition very common for yachts.

Testing – and more testing

At this stage SSPA was commissioned again and performed a series of tests to compare WHY 58x38 with a standard yacht. With its outstanding stability there were no doubts that the vessel would roll less than a standard yacht, but would the vertical accelerations be worse due to the very high GM and short roll period? Roll decay and sea keeping tests in regular beam sea for determining RAO (Response Amplifier Operator) for roll were the first step. These tests gave us a roll period of about 6.5 s which was a bit more than expected, indicating a very large damping in roll. At the same time a resistance test was run and, once again, it was noticed that the specific resistance did not change very much in spite of the increased beam and in fact, the residuary resistance coefficient was reduced.

We moved on to our MDL and exposed the vessel to a sea condition likely to be met in the Mediterranean at possible spots for anchoring according to available statistics. This sea state chosen was a bit special and was a combination of windgenerated irregular waves from one side and a simulated swell by regular waves from a direction perpendicular to the wind waves. As can be seen from the plots, the behaviour regarding roll was excellent for WHY 58x38 and was better than the standard yacht in most conditions. See the figures below.

WHY 58 38 vs Traditional yacht. Roll angle and vertical acceleration at anchor exposed to wind waves and swell.

For vertical accelerations at a point at the centre line in the aft region of the ships the situation was very similar for the two types of vessels. The criteria used for limiting curves are established by Nordforsk and are valid for cruise liners.

The vessel is also designed with the environment in mind. In fact, the whole concept breathes green thinking. The design speed is leisurely low. It is powered using diesel electric engines. A surface of solar cell panels measuring approximately 900 square meters provide part of what is needed to subsist the boat. Special attention has been paid to the choice of materials and how to recycle them etc.

Opinions on WHY 58x38

Who will dare to put their money into a vessel like this? When discussing with the hull engineer, Roar Ramde he explains his own theory. It will have to be people that don’t look at what has been done in the past, – people who dare to see the benefits with their eyes not blinkered by conservatism and are independent of infrastructure and financiers.

– We didn’t design a boat, we gave shape to an idea, states Gabriele Pezzini, design director of Hermès.
– WHY is the union of our dreams, the green path that carries us away in its wake, Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès, explains.
– A new and unique way of living on the sea while caring about it, protecting it, and loving it…, Luca Bassani Antivari, president and CEO of Wally, adds.

A special feature of the hull is that the over side of the bulb has a flat area suitable for a sun chair. So imagine entering Monaco harbour sitting on the bulb sipping on a drink. Wouldn’t that be something!

Photos and illustrations:

WHY Wally- Hermés Yachts. Photo: Courtesy of WHY-Wally Hermès Yachts/Artefactory Lab.

Ramform Sterling. Photo: Harald M. Valderhaug.

The Norwegian Navy surveillance ship Marjata. Photo: Harald M. Valderhaug.