In motorcycle parlance, the café racer was created to sprint between cafés in Europe: a lean, mean, stripped down but ever so stylish bike that spoke volumes about its rider. Tuned for speed and precise handling, these pocket rockets park by the dozens in front of rock 'n' roll joints in England or jazz bistros along the Riviera.
But café racers aren't just for show. Sometimes a rider will leave a café on a dare, race to a predetermined point and back to the café-all before a single song can finish on the jukebox. Usually single-seaters, these bikes aren't for everyone, but they are perfect for some.
And that's exactly the case with the Cranchi Mediterranée 47: It's going to be the absolutely perfect yacht for some, while others will move on to something that fills more diverse needs.
I know it must have taken some soul-searching on the part of Aldo Cranchi, a fourth-generation boatbuilder, to commit the time and resources to build what is clearly a niche yacht. It would have been safer to build a 47-footer for the masses: a yacht that did a little of everything but nothing particularly well. Instead, Aldo chose to take the high road by creating a café racer for the water.
At rest, the Mediterranée 47 is a pretty boat: not too tall, not too low, with a pleasant sheerline and nothing to jar the eye. The steeply raked windshield says speed, and it's apparent that many of the design cues have been taken from the automotive world, such as the slight overhang on the transom sunpad that evokes the spoiler on a Turbo Porsche.
OK, you're right, the cockpit isn't huge-but remember, this boat isn't intended for a crowd. The sunpad is amply sized (and has a tilting backrest) and there is an easy teak-planked walkway from the swim platform into the cockpit. Half a dozen friends can wrap around the cockpit table, with a barbecue and wet bar just a step away in a sleek fiberglass console. There's a refrigerator under the barbie, one in the galley, of course, and, ta-dah, one hidden on the foredeck next to the sunpad. Clever.The helm's very stylish centerline steering comes as a surprise. The skipper of the Cranchi 47 is clearly the king on his throne, with an array of instruments in a burled pod at his fingertips. A fully adjustable seat has flip-up bolsters so you can either stand or sit behind the Nardi wheel, which car enthusiasts know as the ne plus ultra of steering wheels.
The companion seats on each side of the skipper, both in the same buttery UltraLeather, ought to accommodate a couple of warm bodies quite nicely. The beauty of this arrangement is that each seat has direct access to the cockpit, so you don't have to move others as you come or go. In addition, the skipper has the best view in the house, with all corners of the boat in sight when docking. The huge center panel in the windscreen eliminates any support post in the skipper's line of sight, allowing the use of a single immense windshield wiper reminiscent of Porsche prototype racers.
Below, the 47 is an inviting symphony of high-gloss cherry wood in curved panels, supple leather upholstery and natural lighting from the skylight above. Rather than hiding the normally utilitarian electrical panel, Cranchi instead put it on the after bulkhead and turned it into a work of art, with pale blue lighting and a television tucked underneath.
The automotive styling continues throughout, with molded speaker grills and swoopy molded handgrips in all the right places. All of the lockers are beautifully finished inside and a cleverly engineered pantry rack literally unfolds when you open the door to make full use of the space under the Corian counters.
The master stateroom is comfortable, with an oversized cedar-lined hanging locker and direct entry to the private head with circular Lucite shower. Aft, the midcabin is cleverly fitted under the raised helm so that there is full headroom between the two berths, which eliminates the claustrophobia found in the usual cavelike midcabins. There is private access to the day head, which has another circular Lucite shower, so two couples can cruise comfortably without imposing on each other's privacy.
Aldo Cranchi may have been daring with the Mediterranée 47, but he didn't stint when it came to the details, like the very slick Bimini top. The stainless steel braces roll on tracks, making it easy to slide the top into position from its hiding place against the electronics arch. A second Bimini provides shade from the arch aft to the sunpad. And the foredeck hasn't been forgotten, with a Mantis umbrella that can be angled to provide just the right amount of shade to the tilting pads.
A spacious garage is hidden under the after sunpad that tilts up hydraulically. Tucked inside is ample space for a RIB tender (or a Jet Ski), which launches on flip-out rollers and retrieves with a built-in electric winch. Forward, a nitpicker would say that the rails might be a bit high, but this is the minimum height to meet EEC rules, and the triple rails offer security when anchoring or boarding through the pulpit gate. Besides, they provide stylish racks for the fenders.
Our test boat had the optional Volvo Penta D9 EVC 575 hp diesels (500 hp D9s are standard) with direct shafts into prop tunnels, for shallow (3 feet, 5 inches) draft. A bowthruster is standard, with optional warping winches at the stern corners for shorthanded docking.
Underway, the Mediterranée 47 was a delight even in the lumpy Gulf Stream seas. The best way I can describe her is that she felt tightly coiled and solid. Even banging into quartering seas at high speed didn't produce any rattles or creaks, and the stainless-topped windscreen was absolutely rigid. I liked steering while standing up (the wheel tilts), which gave a better view of wave heights, although the wind blew away the remains of my hair. Below windscreen level and even aft in the lounge seating, the high sides and windscreen reduced the breeze to a minimum.
As on a café racer, the steering was precise so it was fun to carve turns just by spinning the wheel. Even in a hard turn, the 47 was stable and predictable. Standard equipment on the Mediterranée includes both Bimini tops with full enclosure plus a mooring cover, a 30,000 BTU MarineAir chilled water air-conditioning system, a Cablemaster reel for the shorepower cord and even the full Raynav electronics package.
Other thoughtful and stylish touches that don't show up on option lists for most boats are both bow and stern hot-and-cold showers, lighted coat racks in the hanging lockers and the bowl vanities with trendy faucets. You even get Cranchi-logoed dishes and glassware.
If you're one of those who would prefer a Lamborghini to an SUV, this is going to light your fire.
Contact: Cranchi USA, (866) CRANCHI; www.cranchiusa.com