Sound of Si­lence

ON THE ADLER 76 SUPREMA, IT’S WHAT YOU DON’T HEAR THAT WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY. BY ALAN HARPER

Power & Motor Yacht - - CONTENTS -

The Adler 76 Suprema’s hy­brid propul­sion sys­tem is clev­erly au­to­matic—and most of all, quiet.

The Adler 76 Suprema is a clever new Euro­pean mo­to­ry­acht I saw at the Cannes Yacht­ing Fes­ti­val, and she presents us with a num­ber of note­wor­thy de­tails. One is that Adler is a Swiss com­pany, but the yacht was built in Mon­fal­cone, near Tri­este, and also de­signed in Italy, by the well-known stu­dio of Nu­volari Le­nard. Tank test­ing for the hull took place in Vi­enna, and en­gi­neers from both Aus­tria and Ger­many were in­volved in the con­cept and ex­e­cu­tion of the Suprema’s com­plex core. The struc­ture is car­bon fiber, and the in­te­rior fully cus­tom­iz­a­ble.

The ac­com­mo­da­tions lay­out is equally un­usual. There is a wholly un­ex­pected dou­ble cabin in the stern. This is reached down the aft salon com­pan­ion­way, which also of­fers ac­cess for­ward, via the crew’s quar­ters, to the en­gine room. The ma­chin­ery space lies dead amid­ships, and the re­main­ing two cab­ins con­sist of a lux­u­ri­ous full-beam mas­ter state­room and a vo­lu­mi­nous VIP for­ward that has ex­cel­lent head­room and a pair of scis­sor berths, which can be slid apart or to­gether as re­quired.

There is a five-cabin lay­out as an op­tion, but with just three suites in a hull this size there is no short­age of space on the lower deck, and it’s the same story over­head, where the so­cia­ble, open-plan gal­ley and curved glass cock­pit doors ac­cen­tu­ate sight­lines in the salon and cap­i­tal­ize on the light pro­vided by the floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows. The in­te­rior de­sign is mod­ern, edgy and min­i­mal, and the qual­ity of fin­ish meets the stan­dards one ex­pects from a mod­ern Ital­ian ship­yard.

There is only one way up to the fly­bridge, from in­side, which cre­ates ex­tra space in the cock­pit. The fly­bridge it­self is huge and re­mark­ably well ap­pointed, with space aft for a ten­der. Closed­cir­cuit cam­eras al­low all ex­ter­nal ar­eas of the yacht to be mon­i­tored from the lower helm, in­clud­ing the car­bon-fiber pro­pel­lers: You can watch them spin­ning. Other al­lur­ing at­tributes in­clude un­der-floor heat­ing and chilled cup hold­ers. You can draw the cur­tains, dim the lights and switch on the air-con­di­tion­ing us­ing your iPad while still fin­ish­ing your din­ner ashore. This yacht is fully loaded.

She also comes with im­mense re­serves of bat­tery power, 170 kilo­watt-hours—enough to run all of her elec­tri­cal sys­tems at an­chor, in­clud­ing the air-con­di­tion­ing, for up to 17 hours with­out re­sort­ing to the generator. Which is just as well, be­cause she doesn’t have a generator. Now we’re get­ting to the in­ter­est­ing part. The Suprema fea­tures a hy­brid propul­sion sys­tem, many years in ges­ta­tion. Her twin Cater­pil­lar C18s can be used to spin a pair of con­ven­tional pro­pel­ler shafts, or to gen­er­ate power for the yacht’s two 100-kilo­watt elec­tric mo­tors, which are built around the prop shafts and also func­tion as gen­er­a­tors. The diesels also charge the yacht’s huge bank of bat­ter­ies, stowed un­der the en­gine room floor and ex­tend­ing well aft along the cen­ter­line. Ac­cord­ing to Adler, they can be fully charged by the en­gines in an hour.

One look in­side the Adler’s en­gine room and you can see there’s some­thing un­usual go­ing on. The Cat C18s look con­ven­tional enough, mounted at a mod­est an­gle and ev­i­dently driv­ing straight shafts. Aft of each en­gine, though, there is a mag­netic clutch, an elec­tric mo­tor that dou­bles as a generator, and then the trans­mis­sion. The prop shafts can be turned by the Cats, the elec­tric mo­tors, or both. Or by bat­tery power.

But even that is not the most clever thing I found aboard the Adler Suprema 76.

The clever­est thing about this yacht is that this propul­sion tech­nol­ogy, per­haps the most com­plex and ver­sa­tile ever fit­ted in a ves­sel of this size, op­er­ates en­tirely au­to­mat­i­cally. The owner sim­ply uses the boat as he would any other, while the hy­brid sys­tem’s elec­tronic con­trol unit makes all the de­ci­sions about whether to use diesel power to push the boat along, elec­tric­ity, or both.

Our usual test data shows the Adler’s per­for­mance as a con­ven­tional twin-diesel mo­to­ry­acht, with no as­sis­tance from the elec­tric mo­tors. What it doesn’t show is how Adler’s hy­brid sys­tem clev­erly takes its cue from your in­puts on the throt­tle levers, and sup­plies what­ever is needed to pro­duce the speed that you de­mand.

When we left the crowded har­bor in Cannes, we were on bat­tery power only, with which the Adler can cruise at 8 knots for up to an hour. As we ghosted in ut­ter si­lence among the noisy chaos of show traf­fic and headed for the har­bor mouth, the color- ful graphic on the helm screen showed what was hap­pen­ing both vis­ually and dig­i­tally: 5.8 knots, us­ing 40 kilo­watts, 20 from each elec­tric mo­tor. Once in less con­gested wa­ter, the pic­ture changed with a gen­tle nudge for­ward on the throt­tles. One diesel started up and ran at 600 rpm with both elec­tric mo­tors still pro­duc­ing 20 kilo­watts. Our speed in­creased to 7.6 knots.

As we cleared the har­bor wall, turn­ing south around the Vieux Port’s cheer­ful striped light­house, another push of the throt­tles woke the other diesel up. The screen’s graphic now showed us mak­ing 11.4 knots with both Cater­pil­lars run­ning at 1200 rpm and burn­ing 11.9 gal­lons per hour of diesel be­tween them, while the elec­tric mo­tors were now pro­duc­ing 80 kilo­watts apiece. With the bow point­ing at open wa­ter, we ac­cel­er­ated again: 13, 15, 17 knots, up the rev range on the diesels, with the elec­tric mo­tors con­tin­u­ing at 80 kilo­watts each, un­til at 19 knots and 1850 rpm they cut out and the boat tran­si­tioned seam­lessly to pure diesel mode and ac­cel­er­ated to max­i­mum speed.

There is a “boost” mode, where you can aug­ment max­i­mum en­gine speed with max­i­mum elec­tric power and gain an ex­tra knot or two, but it hardly seems nec­es­sary. As a con­ven­tional diesel mo­to­ry­acht, the Adler han­dles and per­forms in ex­actly the way you would ex­pect. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is steady and helm re­sponse is pre­cise. An in­ci­sive stem and fine en­try do an ex­cel­lent job of slic­ing through head seas, and the boat felt re­as­sur­ingly solid

un­der way. With nei­ther fins nor gy­ros fit­ted, we were cu­ri­ous to test the yacht’s sta­bil­ity by edg­ing beam-to of its own wake. In spite of all the top ham­per that comes with mod­ern mo­to­ry­acht de­sign, there was sur­pris­ingly lit­tle roll—pos­si­bly be­cause of all those bat­ter­ies way down low on the cen­ter­line.

We pulled back on the throt­tles and the Adler eased off plane and set­tled into dis­place­ment mode, just like any other com­pe­tent 76-foot mo­to­ry­acht. A glance at the screen showed that the hy­brid sys­tem had brought the elec­tric mo­tors back on­line. One diesel slowed to idle and then shut down, and the yacht slipped seam­lessly into hy­brid mode.

Ac­cord­ing to Adler, this was the Suprema at its most fuel-ef­fi­cient. One diesel en­gine op­er­at­ing at 800 rpm was spin­ning one pro­pel­ler shaft, while that shaft’s elec­tric mo­tor si­mul­ta­ne­ously ran as a generator. This pro­vided the power for the other elec­tric mo­tor, which spun the other prop shaft. In this mode the yacht was cruis­ing at 8 knots, burn­ing around 3 gal­lons per hour, and there­fore had a cruis­ing range, al­low­ing our usual 10 per­cent re­serve, of around 3,300 nau­ti­cal miles.

The Suprema 76 is com­pli­cated, but it works. The clever­est thing about its re­mark­able propul­sion sys­tem is how sim­ple it is: The boat just mon­i­tors your de­mand for speed and de­cides how best to de­liver it. If you aren’t look­ing at the screens, you don’t know what’s hap­pen­ing in the en­gine room. And you don’t need to know—so you’re free to get on with en­joy­ing your boat. And that’s prob­a­bly the clever­est thing of all. Adler Yachts, +41 41 729 39 48; adlery­acht.com

The fu­tur­is­tic in­te­rior de­sign of the 76 Suprema show­cases Adler Yacht’s phi­los­o­phy, which is for­ward-think­ing, in­deed.

Carlo Nu­volari and Dan Le­nard de­signed both the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior of the yacht, and this salon seat­ing area shows the ben­e­fits of a calm­ing pal­ette.

LOA: 75'10" BEAM: 19'10" DRAFT: 5'9" DISPL.: 108,025 lb. (dry) FUEL: 1,374 gal. WA­TER: 232 gal. TEST POWER: 2/1,150-hp Cater­pil­lar C18, each cou­pled to both con­ven­tional prop shafts at 3:1 re­duc­tion ra­tio, and to com­bined elec­tric mo­tors/gen­er­a­tors and mag­netic clutch OP­TIONAL POWER: None PRICE: $3,870,000 A dis­tinc­tive shape and black and white ex­te­rior set the Adler apart, but the fea­ture that makes her a true orig­i­nal is hy­brid propul­sion.

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