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This Boxy New 80-Foot Explorer Yacht Sacrifices Elegant Lines for Sheer Versatility

Arcadia gave its Sherpa 80 XL an unconventional look that emphasizes function over form. Some consider it way too funky, but owners love its multiple uses.

The Arcadia Sherpa 80 XL on display at the 2022 Cannes Yachting Festival had a few things that set her apart from the raft of more conventionally designed vessels on the surrounding docks. Robb Report had a chance to spend time with the owner on the boat at the show to discover why she loved those differences.

Arcadia is an Italian brand that went rogue early on with its designs, deliberately choosing function over form by offering the first three-season mini-explorer that served multiple missions. The Sherpa name pretty much says it all.

Arcadia Sherpa 80 XL
The jigsaw puzzle design of the 80-footer includes this upper flybridge, while the forward helm is enclosed for rough weather. Courtesy Alberto Cocchi

The 80-footer’s design from Hot Lab is uncompromising when it comes to multi-tasking. Some might even call the profile ugly—though the definition of beauty is changing as more mini-explorers adopt similar looks.

The boxy, snub-nosed forward section, with high, tugboat-like bulwarks towards the bow eventually gives way to an open cockpit that looks like it might belong on another type of express cruiser.

Arcadia Sherpa 80 XL
A minimalist interior with a ceiling covered in solar panels. Courtesy Owner

The interior has a similar multifunctional design. The layout can at times feel like one is inhabiting a life-size woodcut by M.C. Escher, with stairs leading up and down to decks that seem as if they shouldn’t be there. But they make sense. The interior might be a bit claustrophic and confusing if not for the overriding sense of openness across the boat.

The Milanese owner says open spaces, both inside and out, were important to her. She likes to spend time at anchor off the coast of Maine, and the al fresco decks—which include the cockpit, an amidships dining table in a space called “The Winter Garden,” and a bridge deck—are where she feels most at peace and connected to the environment.

Arcadia Sherpa 80 XL
The pilothouse is designed for exploring off-grid regions. Courtesy Alberto Cocchi

Another trait this yacht derived from New England is the calming “Maine blue” that repeats in the upscale upholstery on the Poltrona Frau and Cappellini freestanding furniture, as well as other design accents throughout, such as bedroom rugs and bathroom fixtures.

The Arcadia 80XL was one of the first mini-explorers to use solar panels in a serious way. The bank above the pilothouse can generate up to 3-kW of energy that is transferred to the 30-kW battery bank. Fortunately, that extra juice won’t all be squandered on air conditioning, as could be the case on a yacht with so much glass. Portions of the Arcadia’s glazing, particularly in the skylounge, have an insulating gas sandwiched between specialized panes of glass to save energy.

The primary suite with its calming “Maine blue” colors.

Advanced tech aside, perhaps the soul of this boat is best encapsulated in its aftermost sections. At the tail end of the cockpit is a large and unshaded group of sunbeds—a contrast to the buttoned-down forward section. The area overhangs a large swim platform with a transformer deck that drops into the water. Arcadia figured it would be a good place to heat up in the summer sun, and then dive into the cool, blue water.

The Sherpa won’t be every boater’s cup of tea, but if the goal is to have an three-seasons cruiser, with sustainability designed into the mix, the funky design will deliver.

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