Introducing Obsidian, Feadship’s first biofuel-powered superyacht

Even though it's all about efficient tech under the skin, the clean lines and extensive use of smoked-glass mask the world within

Despite their awe-inducing size and presence, it can be difficult to make the right impression when it comes to speccing a superyacht. Giving a vessel of such scale a suitable design identity is a challenge for even the most seasoned craftsperson. Some look uneasy on the high seas – more ferry than floating villa – meanwhile others are an all-out assault on the senses. Yet Feadship’s 84.2-metre hybrid superyacht, Obsidian, defies the odds.

Ariel shot of Obsidian the biofuel-powered superyacht out on the water

Designed by RWD, in collaboration with MONK Design, construction work started on Obsidian in 2020, when both firms’ sleek and sculpted design for the yacht’s aluminium structure started to take shape. In line with its bio-fuel hybrid propulsion system, sustainability was a focus for the vessel, with the use of aluminium, wood and carbonfibre saving weight where possible.

Rear shot of Obsidian the biofuel-powered superyacht out on the water
Front shot of Obsidian the biofuel-powered superyacht out on the water

The latest craft with reduced emissions to emerge from the Dutch shipyard, Obsidian is equipped with generators that use second-generation biodiesel (HVO), with sea tests pointing to a 90 per cent reduction in carbon emissions compared to conventional yachts that operate on fossil fuels. Although it’s still difficult to label the yacht industry as sustainable, Obsidian is certainly a step in the right direction.

Obsidian cabin
Decking pattens on Obsidian
Edge shots of Obsidian decking

Following in the footsteps of Feadship’s first hybrid yacht, Savannah, which launched in 2015, Obsidian features more than four times the electrical storage capacity,with no drive shafts or rudders, resulting in less drag. Powering it all is a 4.5MWh battery bank that is charged by four generators, providing power to the yacht through a 1,000-volt system. By Feadships’s estimates, that’s enough to allow Obsidian to cruise for 35 nautical miles at 10 knots on batteries alone, or to operate in silence for 10–15 hours in harbour.

Pressure gauges and pipes system below deck on board Obsidian
Machinery and anchor system below deck on board Obsidian
Machinery system below deck on board Obsidian

Even though it’s all about efficient tech under the skin, the clean lines and extensive use of smoked-glass mask the world within. With seven staterooms to sleep 14 guests and capacity for a crew of 27; a bow observation lounge with double-curved glass floor-to-ceiling windows; and an asymmetric aft deck complete with a hidden swimming pool at the stern, there’s no shortage of headline-grabbing features. As for the rest, they still remain a mystery, like her owner.

Speccing a superyacht of Obsidian’s scale is never the most cost-effective way of setting sail and, like much of the industry, the true cost of such a project remains shrouded in secrecy. Given the similarly sized Lionheart cost retail billionaire Philip Green around £100m, in 2016, we’d wager Obsidian’s price to be much higher.

Raising the bar for more sustainability on the high seas, Obsidian is a stunning first shot at a bio-fuelled superyacht from Feadship. After three years in the making and several lockdowns, she will finally be delivered to her owner this year. With the Mediterranean yacht season well and truly upon us, there’s a strong chance Obsidian will be gracing a sun-dappled bay near you soon.

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