Lately I've been feeling emotion. Not in the sense of feeling emotional, as in overwrought, but in trying to gauge the character and presence of a yacht. Why? Because in the world of motoryachts there is such a similarity between most new designs that it is not always easy to tell one from the other. I'm not talking about the interiors, where thanks to continual inspiration from the design and art world we are seeing considerable differences. But external design is another matter: Too many yachts look the same.
True, recent years have seen designers and companies incorporate "trademark" features like special window shapes and color schemes, but the speed of mimicry gives such flourishes a shorter shelf life. What once was "Italian" can hail from Wisconsin as easily as Viareggio. This is not a bad thing, but it does make it more challenging for designers. In a market that relies on emotion for sales-no one is going to argue with me on this, I hope-encroaching sameness cannot be a good thing. Just think of mainstream automobile design.
And this is why the new Apreamare had me so interested. Not only has the company found a new design solution within the old set of variables, but it has found one that seems to work wonderfully well and which could be the start of a new approach to the motoryacht arena. That's going out on a limb, but at least Apreamare seems to think so too, because in addition to this prototype 65 Maestro, it is committed to producing a whole range in this new style, from 43 to 85 feet.
You could call the concept a cross between a trawler and a motoryacht, but that wouldn't be fair. With this new yacht, Apreamare has established a new category, one that deserves its own name. This design took a lot of commercial courage, particularly in a market that is notably conservative. But then Aldo Aprea, the CEO of Apreamare, is not new to this sort of situation. "People said the same thing twenty years ago when we introduced the original Apreamare range," he says, speaking of the yachts based on leisure versions of the traditional Gozzo Sorrentino fishing boats. "These have been selling like hotcakes ever since, so we have high hopes for this new concept."
The first features you notice about this design are the vertical pilothouse windows, which curve around 180 degrees to provide a panoramic view. Unlike the sloping windows found on other yachts that sometimes create bothersome reflections, the Apreamare's windows have a deep eyebrow that protects them from the sun. Practicalities aside, these windows also make a very attractive styling feature that combines a hint of tradition with a very modern look.
The traditional look is extended with the dark blue hull that is topped by a richly varnished teak capping. The stainless steel safety railings follow the attractive, slightly reversed sheer line. Apart from this, the 65 looks very modern and well balanced and will certainly attract attention.
From inside the pilothouse, the windows give a superb view. Unfortunately, the only seat here is a fairly basic fitting for the helmsman and a corner seat over to starboard. The dash is well laid out, with a raised pod housing the three main screens, a vertical wheel and the compact MTU throttles.
The theme of large windows continues in the saloon. This almost square room has curved windows at the rear corners, but otherwise there is a wonderful view of the outside world. The main windows open downward to allow in the fresh air, making the saloon feel almost part of the cockpit. The cockpit itself can be expanded in the same way, with a fold-down transom converting it into what is virtually a "beach." This 65 can be fully opened up for daytime use and then closed down in the evening to create a cozy haven of peace.
Stylish settees on each side of the saloon match an opening table for dining. Half-height teak paneling is balanced by a coarse-weave fabric at the top, and all the wood is finished in a horizontal grain that unfortunately looks rather cheap compared with the character of the rest of the yacht. There are many options with the 65, therefore changing the teak for something more attractive would not be a problem. One of the main options at this deck level is to move the galley, which is between the saloon and the helm, down below. This would create a full-length open-plan saloon and allow better helm seating.
Moving the galley below takes up the space allocated on the prototype to a very convenient office. This is located in the vestibule at the foot of the access stairs. Another option for this space is to have it as a fourth cabin. The prototype has a three-cabin layout with the office and this works very well if you don't need to squeeze in any more guests or children. The master cabin is amidships with its spacious bathroom filling the port side. This stateroom is very practical and has the same quiet decor of the saloon.
To starboard is a twin cabin with its en suite bathroom also serving as the day head. Then there is the forward VIP cabin that looks like an oasis of peace and quiet. Every feature gives the impression of having been thought through very carefully and developed to ensure that this yacht has the level of comfort and sophistication that an owner might expect. I love the use of traditional round portholes with their clamps, and many of these are linked as twins by tinted glass so that from the outside they match the traditional style.
This mix of traditional and modern is the theme throughout and it has been so carefully balanced that you can almost switch from one era to another. However, there is nothing traditional about the performance, and under the waterline the 65 has the latest in deep-V hull design with an adequate deadrise to give sophisticated performance.
With 3,000 hp from two of MTU's latest diesels, the Maestro comes quickly onto a plane. There is no need to use the flaps to help; they are really only needed to keep the bow down in rough head seas. Once up and running, the performance is sparkling with good acceleration right up to the top speed. Even fully loaded, the Maestro reaches 34 knots, but in light conditions 35 knots or more should come up easily.
You can feel some harshness come into the ride at top speed as the wide chines start to slam, but ease back a fraction to the cruising speed and the ride becomes smooth and very comfortable. The helm response is good, and this large yacht has just the right balance. Equally important is the low-speed handling; a powerful bowthruster makes this easy and precise. Although crew cabins are built in on the Maestro, a couple could command her quite comfortably.
The well-soundproofed engine compartment is compact, with access to every corner. The new common-rail MTU diesels from the 2000 range certainly push out a lot of power from a compact package. An alternate engine specification is to have two 1,220 hp MAN diesels; in both cases they drive through a conventional shaft and propeller system with the propellers operating in semi-tunnels.
Despite the comfortable accommodation, there is still space within the hull for a large lazarette; access is through a large deck hatch in the cockpit rather than through the normal transom door. This area can provide stowage for the tender, diving gear or water-sports equipment. A crane mounted at the rear of the flying bridge does the lifting.
The flying bridge is another pleasure area with sunbeds and seating, plus a bar and barbecue in cabinets under the mast. This mast structure is a real piece of fiberglass sculpture, but practical as a mounting for the antenna. You can drive the yacht from the bridge with a simple joystick helm and throttle panel built into the cockpit surround. And if you tire of the wind of the flying bridge, there is a large protected sunbed on the foredeck with a couple of seats built in where you can watch the world go by.
Apreamare really seems to have thought of everything on the Maestro 65. By starting with a clean sheet of paper and the desire to create something that reflects the 150 years of Apreamare's tradition, the design team from Zuccon International has come up with an exciting new concept. When you first see the Maestro 65, you are stunned by its sheer beauty; closer acquaintance with it shows just how practical this new concept is. I came away from the sea trial feeling that I had been privileged to witness the dawn of a new era of motoryacht design.