The axe file: taking the bump out of the ride
FORT LAUDERDALE (USA) ~ When the International Superyacht Society gave a Dutch-built and designed vessel its top innovation prize on Nov. 15, it hailed an idea that echoes far beyond the super-yachting elite. Its “Excellence in Innovation” award was for ‘Garcon,’ a fast, 67m super-yacht tender (above) by Amels, the yachting arm of Damen Shipyards Group. Its patented ‘axe bow’ cuts wave slamming at high speeds making life onboard much more bearable. Garcon has a top speed of 18 knots (a bigger engine raises that to 25 knots) in all sea states. Good news for anyone who takes a licking in rough seas, for fun or a living. People like sea pilots, coast guards, lifeboat crews but also recreational motor yachters.
“The axe-bow lets you move at a high speed in rough seas,” says Damen Design and Proposal Engineer John Nieboer. “The bow was developed ca. 2000 for boats of about 50m.” Since then, Damen together with Delft University of Technology, has investigated the axe bow concept for a variety of fast vessels of different length and speed.
At Damen Shipyard Group recently, a 19m sea rescue boat passed a self-righting test. The Royal Netherlands’ Sea Rescue Institution (known as KNRM) plans to buy up to 10 of the so-called NH-1816 craft, named for a key KNRM donor. They have a ‘semi-axe’ bow (to work in shallow waters) that generates a 45% cut in wave pounding. Amels has already sold 3 axe-bow super-yacht tenders and has 4 under construction. Since 2007, it has sold more than 75 axe bow vessels (it calls them “Sea Axes”) for all kinds of offshore use. “I can see an axe bow also improving onboard comfort on recreational motor yachts,” says Nieboer.
The full ‘axe bow’ creates a deep forefoot and a high no-flare bow. That axe blade profile makes a boat less susceptible to slamming and can cut fuel consumption by 20%. The KNRM operates from dozens of lifeboat stations along the North Sea and inland waterways. In its search for a new generation of lifeboats, it looked for a self-righting vessel that behaves well in high seas, limits inside noise to 75db, has a climate-controlled interior and an ergonomical wheelhouse design. In collaboration with KNRM and De Vries Lentsch Yacht Designers and Naval Architects, Damen came up with a moderate axe bow vessel that sports retractable aft fins for more course stability and a wheelhouse brimming with state-of-the-art electronics.
The KNRM hopes to buy 10 NH-1816s. In turn, Damen counts on the KNRM’s expertise _ since its founding in 1924, it has rescued over 92.000 people! _ to help market the craft worldwide. The NH-1816 has an operating range of 348 nm and a top speed of 31 knots. It carries a crew of 6 and can transport up to 120 survivors. Over the years, the lifespan of Dutch SAR vessels has contracted due to rising demand for more comfort, more speed. Until 1990, the average age of a KNRM vessel was over 50 years. That has since dropped to 30 years. And, yes, it is true: old soldiers don’t die. The Netherlands’ Old Rescue Glory Nautical Society keeps dozens of ex-SAR vessels plying inland and offshore waters _ a salute to those who risk their lives to save others.