Royal Huisman's 52m gaff rigged schooner Meteor
Royal Huisman’s latest launch, combining the classic lines of the Gloucester schooner with 21st century sail and rig technology, has already turned heads in Valencia and Palma.
Meteor was launched in May 2007, happily on schedule and on budget, to the delight of her owners. As two families, they had set a demanding brief for the yard and for naval architects Gerard Dijkstra and Partners in collaboration with John G. Alden.
Meteor was to reflect their admiration for the classic lines and rugged seaworthiness of the Gloucester schooner whilst also fulfilling their high performance expectations as keen racing sailors.
To this end, the naval architects maintained the tradition of a full keel underbody to ensure a sea-kindly motion, complemented above the waterline by graceful sheer and a fine clipper bow and bowsprit. The tall schooner rig and sailplan, whilst also traditional in appearance, tells another story. Rondal Carbon spars with carbon standing rigging by Southern composites, high-performance sails from North and a functional ergonomic deck layout refer more to contemporary race technology than to 19th century practice.
The effectiveness of this realisation may be judged by this extract from a message sent by Meteor Captain Dean Maggio after a challenging start to his delivery trip to Palma:
“I owe you a beer or two. Meteor has just been outstanding…in the English Channel winds averaged 35-40knots with gusts well into the 50’s and above 65 knots. With the wind on our beam, we had the staysail set and she just handled it like a thoroughbred. I can honestly say I have never been to sea and been more confident and comfortable than I am aboard Meteor.”
At the Palma Superyacht Cup, Meteor was again able to show her performance potential, her elegant flag-blue hull and white sail-plan creating a striking image as she turned the heads of an international community of respected yachtsmen as she sailed, close hauled, at an easy 15 knots.
Whilst those on deck enjoy the power and exuberance of Meteor’s sailing capability, those below are able to savour the gracious ambience and comfort of an interior created by styling architect John Munford. ‘Swetania’ mahogany throughout the owners’ and guests’ accommodation provides a warm, nostalgic glow, complemented by elegant soft furnishings and a collection of artwork reflecting the owners’ passion for the sea and all things of beauty.
In the main salon, a beautifully crafted wood-fired fireplace is the centrepiece of the library area to starboard. A centreline bevelled glass skylight of cathedral-like proportion provides an abundance of natural light and air as needed.
Aft of this area is the full-width, master cabin; forward of the salon are two mirror-image guest cabins. Crew accommodation, also in fine finished mahogany, is generous with seven well appointed cabins, with the mate and engineer in individual cabins aft of the engine room.
The traditional styling continues on deck with two beautifully-varnished deck houses finished in teak and connected by a large, twin-tabled cockpit, at the aft of which the helmsman steers a wood-spoke wheel from behind a glass-faceted binnacle.
The main deckhouse provides a comfortable refuge from the deck with leather upholstered furniture arranged around a substantial table. In the aft port corner a cleverly concealed wet bar is situated, complete with sink, fridge and stowage for bottles and glassware. The companionway from the deckhouse to the cockpit is guarded by a pair of miniature cannons that can (of course) be fired from fittings on the cap rail to signal sundown.
The smaller pilot house, aft, provides access to the engineer’s and mate’s cabins as well as accommodating the navigation/communication station with adjacent pilot berth / settee. The flat screen chart plotter / radar and satellite communications complement three neatly concealed navigation screens on deck, whilst forward access from the pilot house ensures excellent interaction with the helm. Unlike the main living areas finished in mahogany both deck houses transition between deck and interior, using teak for furnishings, floors and walls.
Elsewhere on deck, numerous references to the classical styling of the original era can be found including unusually wide centre teak deck planks, harmoniously-designed deck hardware and winches; even the gaff rigged carbon masts and booms have been finished to support the aesthetic integrity of the project, thanks to the expertise and ingenuity of sister company Rondal.
After further cruising in the Mediterranean, Meteor will head for her spiritual home waters in the Canadian and New England Maritimes where she is sure to turn heads for many years to come.
Photos 1, 2, 3 by Richard Page
Photo 4 by Roger Lean-Vercoe
Photos 5, 6, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 by Ed Holt
Photos 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 by Stuart Pearce