HIDDEN DEPTHS

On board the deceptively complex Milele

Close-up of the side of Milele showing logo

Combining speed, range, efficiency – and toting a submarine –
Milele is a lean explorer yacht that can do it all, says Risa Merl

LEONARDO ANDREONI

There’s more to the 45-metre Hakvoort explorer yacht Milele than meets the eye. With clean exterior lines that belie her expedition capabilities, a straightforward layout and understated interiors, at first glance Milele seems simple.

But she hides a wealth of inventive ideas – from the first-ever carbon-fibre hull vanes to an ingenious foredeck concealing a submarine and cinema screen. None of it is innovation for innovation’s sake either. Every part of Milele is thoughtfully considered to serve exactly how – and where – her owner and his active family plan to use the yacht.

Milele slightly from above and the side

LEONARDO ANDREONIMilele is an explorer that’s just as comfortable in the Med as she is cruising further afield. Her happy medium of speed and comfort got her noticed at the 2024 BOAT Design & Innovation Awards

LEONARDO ANDREONIMilele is an explorer that’s just as comfortable in the Med as she is cruising further afield. Her happy medium of speed and comfort got her noticed at the 2024 BOAT Design & Innovation Awards

“There are no redundant spaces on board Milele; she’s incredibly refined,” says Peter Hürzeler, CEO of Ocean Independence, who represented the owner during the build. “This was a yacht that was meant to be capable of doing everything – going fast as well as far. The owner wanted a versatile yacht that was just as capable at high speeds as it was cruising, and just as comfortable in Alaska as Saint-Tropez.”

Foredeck lounge from above showing sunpads

LEONARDO ANDREONIA foredeck lounge offers yet another outdoor gathering spot

LEONARDO ANDREONIA foredeck lounge offers yet another outdoor gathering spot

Milele is the first custom boat for an experienced yachtsman who had a clear vision of what he wanted. The owner had two Pershing yachts previously and was stepping up from a 25-metre Pershing 82, which couldn’t be any more different from an explorer. “With the Pershing, you have a top speed of 45 knots – you get from A to B very fast. And then we decided to have a boat like this,” says Milele’s owner.

“Stylistically she looks simple, yet she is deceptively complex”
Klaas Hakvoort, Royal Hakvoort

While not aiming to be as speedy as a Pershing, Milele needed to reach at least 25 knots while also sustaining a 4,000-nautical-mile range to reach far-flung destinations.

“I told Peter that I understood 45 knots wasn’t possible, but cruising at 12 knots seemed boring. Twenty-five knots could be something… at the same time, I wanted an efficient yacht, which is why we chose Van Oossanen for the hull design.”

Bridge deck fore showing sunpads

LEONARDO ANDREONIThe bridge deck aft includes a sunny lounge and covered al fresco dining for 10

LEONARDO ANDREONIThe bridge deck aft includes a sunny lounge and covered al fresco dining for 10

Early in the design stage, Hürzeler contacted renowned naval architect Perry van Oossanen on the owner’s behalf with a request to start preparing a technical concept design and specifications for a fast, efficient and comfortable sub-500GT motor yacht (Milele measures in at 496GT).

“The exterior design will come later, [Peter] told me,” says Perry van Oossanen, co-managing director of Van Oossanen Naval Architects along with Niels Moerke. “This is not a common route, yet it’s also not so common to have such a technically savvy and involved owner as we did with Milele.”

The yacht also needed to be ocean-going and able to carry a submersible. This added the challenge of weight. As Hürzeler sums it up while giving me a tour of the yacht, “If you want to go fast, you need a light boat, which has consequences in comfort and range. If you want to go far and comfortably, you need a different kind of hull shape, smaller engines and a heavier boat,” he says.

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Inside the wheelhouse, two chairs face out five screens

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

View of submersible from above

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

The curved roof over the wheelhouse (left) leads up to the flybridge; the two-person submersible was custom designed by U-Boat Worx for Milele’s owner to fit on board under the foredeck hatch. It spawned a new series for the Dutch submersible maker (right)

To find the happy medium that would suit Milele, van Oossanen’s studio ran through the pros and cons of various hull forms and determined that their Fast Displacement Hull Form (FDHF) coupled with its patented Hull Vane was the most suitable for this project. The FDHF delivers lower resistance as it moves through the water.

“Less resistance not only means higher speeds but also improves efficiency when compared with a hard chine hull,” says van Oossanen. “The FDHF has a round bilge, which brings added comfort and less pitching through a smoother ride.”

The Hull Vane that Milele uses is a custom-designed underwater “wing” that attaches to the transom and helps the yacht to further reduce pitching motion and noise, as well as improve efficiency.

But, as Milele was to be a heavy yacht carrying a submersible – along with tenders and a lot of burr wood and glass – a typical steel Hull Vane wasn’t the most appropriate option. Van Oossanen stepped up its offerings by redesigning it in the much lighter material of carbon fibre.

Milele is fitted with the world’s first full-carbon-fibre Hull Vane, which has shaved a couple of tonnes from her overall weight,” says van Oossanen. “It was a perfect innovation for this project.”

It’s this cunning innovation, along with her overall performance, that won Milele a BOAT International Design & Innovation Award in 2024, in the Best Naval Architecture – Displacement Motor Yachts category. Adding to the weight saving is the fact that the yacht is fully built in aluminium.

Reducing emissions was also important to the owner, who wanted to ensure they wouldn’t be restricted when exploring protected cruising grounds around the world.

Milele has been fitted with a hybrid propulsion system with electric motors and a generator dry exhaust system that runs up her mast, the latter of which is unusual for a yacht of this size. A dynamic positioning system allows the yacht to visit sensitive areas, like coral reefs, without having to drop anchor.

Milele from the side on the water

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

Milele from the side on the water

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

Milele is a bit of an undercover explorer. Her streamlined exterior drawn by Omega Architects intentionally avoids screaming expedition yacht. “Stylistically she looks simple; Omega Architects sculpted her with clean, flowing lines, taking inspiration from Italian sports cars,” says Klaas Hakvoort, managing director of Royal Hakvoort. “Yet hone in on the micro level and the level of detailing is astounding. Milele is deceptively complex from stern to bow.”

View of a sunny spot on the deck with loungers

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

“This was a yacht that was meant to be capable of doing everything - going fast as well as far

There are nods to automotive design, as well as the high-performance boats with which the owner is familiar. “Milele is incredibly sculpted; it must have been a challenge to build her in aluminium,” says Frank Laupman of Omega Architects.

“Her owner loves the styling of fast Italian sports cars and motor yachts. Milele needed to emulate the same sleek, aggressive look, making no secret of her performance capabilities.” Curved arches on the superstructure, inspired by a Lamborghini, give this sense of dynamism and draw the eye from bow to stern.

The stainless-steel handrails were custom-made for Milele, with the handholds shaped in a square form rather than rounded, as would be the norm. “Square rails are uncommon – they’re less forgiving and much more difficult to construct,” says Hakvoort.

“We had to create a cooling system whereby we could meld the metal and bring it back down in temperature without impacting the shape.” The handrail stanchions lean forward, suggesting motion and speed.

Up top, Milele has a small flybridge. The curved roof over the wheelhouse leads up to this lofty outpost, which has forward-facing seating protected by a glass windshield for taking in the views ahead. There’s also a spa tub and sun loungers, giving the owner’s wife the outdoor area she craved without undermining the sporty styling the husband sought.

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LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

Staircase with vase of flowers in foreground

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

Lounge area with brown leather L-shape sofa

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

The dining table was co-created by the owner (top right); between the main deck lounge and interior dining is a wine-tasting area with custom-made coolers between the convex-shaped cabinets (bottom left)

A near-vertical bow affords Milele an elongated, elegant profile while also stretching the waterline to add volume. “It expands the gross tonnage to what you’d expect on a 50-metre superyacht,” says Laupman.

This also provides real estate for a long, enclosed foredeck. To keep the raised foredeck dry, Van Oossanen devised a custom knuckle that acts as a spray rail, deflecting water while underway. It’s under this stretch of foredeck that you’ll find the most unexpected space on board.

“I wanted an environment that was easy-going and not overwhelming - straight, warm and cosy”

An added challenge to the designers and builder was fitting a submersible into Milele’s 496GT package. The owner’s wife is an avid scuba diver, and while the owner himself doesn’t dive, he still wanted to be able to adventure below the surface.

“A submersible on a sub-500GT yacht!” Hürzeler says. “I can’t imagine Royal Hakvoort Shipyard was impressed with this and the many other new design features requested throughout the build, but they executed it beautifully.”

Lounge area with white leather sofa, arm chairs and table on white carpet

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

Lounge area with white leather sofa, arm chairs and table on white carpet

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

The foredeck garage was built around a two-person U-Boat Worx submersible, which was custom designed for the owner to fit on board. Lighter and more streamlined than previous models, this submarine has become a new series for U-Boat Worx.

Milele’s captain and chief engineer both underwent an intensive training process to become sub pilots, so either can take the owner down for a spin. Thanks to a mounted camera on Milele’s keel, the owner and his family can also enjoy watching marine life swim by when they are on board the yacht.

Close-up of the side of Milele showing logo

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

The garage holds a hydraulic crane that is used to deploy the submersible and rescue tender. But beyond the technical items, the foredeck also conceals an entertainment suite. When the hatch opens up, a large screen is revealed. The owner and his guests can sit on the comfortable bow lounge, set just below the wheelhouse, and watch films al fresco with stereo sound.

The foredeck garage was built around a two-person U-Boat Worx submersible, which was custom designed for the owner to fit on board. Lighter and more streamlined than previous models, this submarine has become a new series for U-Boat Worx.

Milele’s captain and chief engineer both underwent an intensive training process to become sub pilots, so either can take the owner down for a spin. Thanks to a mounted camera on Milele’s keel, the owner and his family can also enjoy watching marine life swim by when they are on board the yacht.

The garage holds a hydraulic crane that is used to deploy the submersible and rescue tender. But beyond the technical items, the foredeck also conceals an entertainment suite.

When the hatch opens up, a large screen is revealed. The owner and his guests can sit on the comfortable bow lounge, set just below the wheelhouse, and watch films al fresco with stereo sound.

Forward hatch lifted up to show cinema screen at night

LEONARDO ANDREONI

LEONARDO ANDREONI

Forward hatch lifted up to show cinema screen at night

LEONARDO ANDREONILifting the forward hatch reveals a large cinema screen for al fresco movie nights

LEONARDO ANDREONILifting the forward hatch reveals a large cinema screen for al fresco movie nights

The owner started out as a cabinetmaker before making a career in interior design, specialising in offices and commercial spaces. It’s no surprise that he brought a keen eye for detail to Milele and worked closely with designer Martin Hanff, who originally worked on the project with Omega Architects, to refine the yacht’s interior decor.

“It was the first owner for me who was so involved in a project; I liked it, because I’m working with my heart and my passion, and I saw that same passion in the owner,” says Hanff, who likens the design collaboration process with Milele’s owner to a tennis match, going back and forth with ideas until they could distil what worked best.

“Timeless design will last longer than a big 'wow' effect”

One example of their collaboration in action is the main dining table. “For example, I created the shape, then [Martin] came up with the base,” says the owner.

Another spectacular table they worked on together is on the upper aft deck. Seating 10, the glass-topped table has a base that’s shaped like a baobab tree. The owner and his wife travel to Africa often, and he wanted to pay homage to his favourite African tree.

“I wanted an environment that was easy-going and not overwhelming – straight, warm and cosy”

LEONARDO ANDREONIShades of cream dominate the harmonious, restful interior decor, with white leather offset by figured wood and thin strips of gleaming stainless steel. It is meant to stand the test of time rather than wow its guests

LEONARDO ANDREONIShades of cream dominate the harmonious, restful interior decor, with white leather offset by figured wood and thin strips of gleaming stainless steel. It is meant to stand the test of time rather than wow its guests

The name of the boat, as it turns out, is also related to their connection with Africa. In Swahili milele means “forever”, which is a fitting moniker for a yacht that was designed with long-lasting appeal in mind. “Timeless design is very important; it will last longer than a big ‘wow’ effect,” says the owner. “I wanted an environment that was easy-going and not overwhelming – straight, warm and cosy.”

A few materials are used sparingly and repeated throughout the boat. The harmonious interior is awash with white leather, elm wood, burr wood accents and shades of cream in the soft goods and carpets. Everything made of wood is executed in exacting detail, including the curved wooden wall in the main stairwell, which serves as a backdrop to the architectural staircase, highlighted with gleaming stainless-steel handrails.