With her exterior lines and interior layout by Hoek Design and interior styling by Redman Whiteley Dixon, the 52.36m / 172ft NextGEN ketch Elfje is not only beautiful to behold with stunning aesthetics and amenities, she has high-tech systems and sailing performance to match. The design brief called for a luxury yacht finessed to deliver across all criteria and remain cutting-edge well into the future. For this reason, Elfje has been called a “NextGEN”ketch to highlight her owner’s focus on maximising innovation, sustainability and energy efficiency. Usage was a key component of the project planning to identify important “must have” attributes, as well as possible constraints, to Elfje’s detailed specification. In broad terms, the owner wanted a beautiful sailing yacht to go anywhere in the world, from tropical cruising grounds to the higher latitudes as far afield as Antarctica and the Arctic. To meet the owner’s wide-ranging brief and apart from the obvious requirement for seaworthiness in all conditions, the yacht had to be equipped for remote extended cruising with adequate fuel, provisioning and operational resources. In the interests of operating the yacht safely in exotic regions, the installed systems had to be advanced, but also relatively simple and thoroughly reliable. From the start there was a strong emphasis on performance. Not just for the enjoyment of swift passage making, but also because the owner also intended to race Elfje. That meant the hydraulic sail handling systems had to be fast and efficient across the full spectrum. Whereas passage-making might require two or three hydraulic functions at one time, a race environment with up to 30 competitive sailors on board could mean upward of 15 powerhungry hydraulic functions being called upon simultaneously. An opportunity to show her racing pedigree came during the 2015 St. Barths’ Bucket, an event co-stewarded by Royal Huisman. At the end of a hard-fought battle Elfje shared overall victory in the Elegantes des Mers class – a remarkable podium result in her debut regatta.