This year’s boat shows were the first after a year of virtual, Covid-impacted events. The pent-up demand among owners and new buyers was evident in the bustling crowds at Cannes and Fort Lauderdale. At Monaco, the number of attendees was lower than 2019, but organizers had set up the show for fewer crowds and more time to spend on the yachts.
After two years, the selection of new yachts was exceptional, from launches like the 230-foot Rossinavi Polaris to the 308-foot Feadship Viva at Monaco, to Wally’s new WHY200 and the 121-foot Benetti Motopanfilo at Cannes, to the world premieres at Fort Lauderdale such as the 252-foot Feadship Boardwalk, Sanlorenzo SL106A and 115-foot Ocean Alexander 35R.
The crowds at all three shows came ready to buy. “At the earlier shows in Europe, there was almost a sense of desperation among buyers wanting to know what they could get,” Sean Robertson, sales director of UK builder Sunseeker, which had US premieres of its Manhattan 55 and 65 Sport Yacht. “Now, people seem more willing to wait for what they want. But the quality is definitely here.”
Driven to Win: Victorious
The largest new yacht to ever come out of Turkey is an explorer billed for world circumnavigation that also includes the usual Jacuzzis, gym, steam room and cinema. But it’s the more unusual features on 279-foot Victorious, including the fire pits, “members club” and 42-foot catamaran tender, that made this yacht stand out among this year’s launches at Monaco.
Victorious began life in Northern Chile, in 2007, originally as a 253-foot build that was never completed. New Zealand businessman Graeme Hart eventually took on the project, shipping the yacht to Auckland before deciding two years later to build the even larger 351-foot Ulysses instead. The project then restarted in earnest in 2016, when it was rediscovered by serial yachtsman Vural Ak.
An automotive enthusiast with many classic and supercars in his private collection, Ak established Turkish shipyard Akyacht in order to complete the build, as well as other superyachts going forward. His previous boats include the 164-foot Dr No No by CRN and several performance vessels, including a 118-footer he still owns, so Ak knew precisely what he wanted. Delivered just ahead of the Monaco show, Victorious is a highly personalized yacht that’s also designed for the charter market.
Boasting an immense 2,291 gross tons of interior volume, the motor yacht includes 11 guest suites and designated family areas. Twenty-six feet were added to the stern for a swimming pool, while a kids’ playroom takes up significant real estate on the main deck. The commercial galley, rarely seen on a yacht of this size, is as unusual as the full-beam VIP stateroom.
UK-based H2 Yacht created the interior, filling what amounted to empty spaces throughout the yacht with the owner’s specific requests. White oak and teak are used with darker Macassar accents, silver travertine defines the corridors and stairways and Calacatta marble is used in other wet areas to maximum effect. Back-lit onyx has been implemented in several areas to enhance the design.
It’s impossible to miss the automotive references sprinkled throughout the interior. Each of the 11 cabins is named after a Formula 1 racetrack, for example, including the aft-facing owner’s suite on the upper deck, Intercity Istanbul Park—also owned by Ak—that features a Jacuzzi and private terrace. The other stateroom on the bridge deck is designated as a hospital room (a Covid-era necessity) with medical equipment and an independent ventilation system.
But the real treat is the club room on the sundeck, with a large wood fireplace flanked by a pair of giant mahogany-covered speakers, curved sofas, a humidor and a wine cellar. The sundeck’s aft dining table remains under cover, complete with heaters for colder climates. “The boat will be used in summer, but the sundeck is primed for winter—that makes it a year-round boat,” says Kivanç Nart, project manager at Akyacht.
Fourteen years in the making, Victorious’s debut on the yacht circuit is certainly worthy of its name. Julia Zaltzman
Ch-Ch-Changes: Benetti Motopanfilo 37M
Benetti’s new 121-foot fiberglass Motopanfilo 37M premiered at the Cannes Yachting Festival before making its way across the Atlantic to the Fort Lauderdale show. The design brief for this modern interpretation of the 1960s classic motor yacht was clear: Get back to the roots of the “Panfilo” series, as American owners called it, and instill the Italian elegance then favored by owners like Monaco’s Prince Rainier and David Bowie.
We toured the 2021 Motopanfilo at Cannes with Claudio Lazzarini, one half of the Rome-based Lazzarini Pickering Architetti, responsible for the interior design. “Benetti insisted this shouldn’t become a nostalgic exercise that just reproduced past concepts,” Lazzarini said. “Instead, we were tasked with reinventing the genre by breathing new life into old designs.”
The veteran architectural firm created a sense of airiness and volume typically found on larger yachts, with dominant elements including curved, bone-white beams that extend from the floor and across the ceilings. These are most prominent in the salon, where Lazzarini likened them to the ribs of a whale. When combined with mirrored surfaces and expansive windows, they evoke an instant connection to the sea.
The use of wood is one traditional motif that the designers put to unexpected use, cladding not only the floor in teak but the ceilings as well. The soft furnishings continue the subdued palette of materials and colors: The team offset Loro Piana fabrics, with names like Connemara and Papeete, in warm white Biancore tones against blue-and-malachite accents to conjure up a ’60s nautical sensibility. Alcoves in the walls between the ribs are shaped like portholes and display decorative artwork.
The owner’s suite is situated on the main deck in front of the salon and the four guest staterooms are on the lower deck. On the upper deck is a smaller salon and pilothouse with an open skydeck; on the top level is the highly inventive observation deck, a glassed-in nook with a sunbed providing crow’s-nest views.
Even with its retro elements, Francesco Struglia’s soft-lined exterior feels contemporary, with a vertical bow and slanted transom featuring a fold-down beach club with what the designer describes as a “clamshell silhouette,” a dramatic flourish of which David Bowie, we feel, would surely have approved. Richard Alban
Rule Breaker: Wally WHY200
At the dock, the Wally WHY200 looks like a soft, middle-aged version of the typically tight and angular Wallys. Yes, it has the same arrowhead shape, but as a longtime fan of the brand, I prepare for disappointment. But the moment I see the 25-foot-wide stern and huge cockpit, I understand: The 200WHY is a waterborne SUV, where the ride and experience, not exterior beauty, are the priorities.
Supersizing interior volume is a current trend among yacht builders, especially those trying to stay below the 24-meter (78-foot) hull load-line length. (In Europe, boats over that figure are designated as ships and must adhere to different regulations.) The WHY200 hull is just under the class divide, even though its superstructure is closer to 89 feet.
But its biggest differentiator is volume. Even the name is a reference to volume—200 gross tons, or 2,150 square feet—rather than length, which is common. The exterior adds another 1,550 square feet, all optimized to enhance life on board. Essentially, it’s a 150-foot superyacht in a much smaller hull.
Features like the full-beam main suite in the bow, a central glass-enclosed staircase that serves as structural support and architectural detail and the gourmet kitchen (which includes induction hobs, oven, sinks, counters and a wine refrigerator) are among the notable breakthroughs. The interior by Wally founder Luca Bassani and A. Vallicelli & C. Yacht Design is simple and elegant instead of showy, dressed with teak floors with black inlays (matching the outer decks) as well as teak walls with ovangkol accents. The forward main suite shows some welcome rule-breaking—270 degrees of windows give panoramic sea views, including through the bow—as does the main deck cockpit’s unusually large protected area. It all adds up to a fresh experience of what a yacht can be.
Bassani, along with Laurent Giles Naval Architects Ltd., designed the high-riding hull for a notably dry ride: At a windy event in Monaco, the WHY200 was the only boat that left Port Hercules for open water, where seas were running four to six feet. “We wanted it to run smoothly in most conditions,” says Bassani. “This hull rises only two degrees as it accelerates, with minimal pitching in big seas.”
Four Volvo Penta D13-IPS drives, rated 900 hp each, deliver a top speed of 21 knots, while the upgraded 1000 hp IPS quads bump that up to 23 knots. The IPS configuration allows for more spacious crew quarters, while providing a choice of three or four staterooms on the lower deck. All in all, my favorite debut at Monaco. Michael Verdon
Fast Learner: Azimut Verve 42
Azimut is on a roll. Last year’s launch of its Verve 47 created a new template for dayboat design, with a potent and finely tuned combination of high performance and high luxury. This year, at Fort Lauderdale, its Verve 42 immediately inherited our mantle of Coolest New Dayboat.
“This is a boat for lounging in the sun, swimming off the back,” says Federico Ferrante, president of Azimut-Benetti USA. And, he adds with a bit of understatement, “going fast.” Powered by a trio of 450 hp Mercury Racing V-8 outboards, the sleek 42-footer tops out at 52 mph, with a stepped hull designed by Michael Peters, a Florida-based naval architect known for fast running surfaces. The patented “two-step” design channels air underneath, to add lift and reduce drag, while the hull’s architecture enhances stability at speed.
During a tour at the Fort Lauderdale show, the Verve was clearly the outlier among Azimut’s larger, more traditional motor yachts. But what an outlier: New owners had already ordered 14 boats by show’s end, with 25 production slots sold out for a year. Starting at $1.1 million, what sets this boat apart from the booming sports-weekender market is Francesco Struglia’s design. With its swept-back windshield, carbon superstructure and windows set into the amidships hull sides to allow the driver and passengers to watch the ocean rushing by, the Verve looks different from anything else on the water. Adding to the effect, its rear deck folds out to double the cockpit space.
There is no shortage of lounging areas across the topside, from the large, C-shaped bow sofa and tilting sun pad—made possible because there’s only a single side passage, which creates a nook up front—to the L-shaped sofa in the cockpit. Belowdecks, the weekender cabin has a double-bed aft, a convertible forward V-berth, a sizable galley and a head with separate shower.
Dayboats are currently enjoying a renaissance, but the Verve, powered by plenty of Mercury Racing vim, is a fresh and notably fast take on the traditional design. Howard Walker