First impressions can be deceiving.
The first thing you may notice about the new Uniesse 70 Sport, for instance, is that this appears to be a conventional motoryacht, but be forewarned: There is more here than meets the eye. I found out for myself last September when I had the good fortune to step aboard hull number two in Viareggio. My initial take on this rakish, powerful hull and streamlined superstructure was certainly admiring, but I had no idea what awaited me below-or even above-decks.
For an example of the surprises the 70 Sport can spring, look at the hard top from the side. You'd have to say that the Uniesse does not initially appear to be designed particularly for outside living, right? Now helicopter yourself overhead and take a second look: You'll see that the stern cockpit and sunbathing area takes up roughly a third of the almost 73 feet of overall length.
This cockpit and sunbathing space is cleverly designed and generous. To the stern is an enormous sunpad at seating height, for stretched-out sunbathing. So large that six people could lie side by side to catch the rays, its white sunpad blends into a forward-facing couch that accompanies a fold-out solid teak table. A small, incorporated back rest separates the couch from the sunpad.
This backrest also acts as a headrest for those sunbathing, a thoughtful and innovative feature. To maximize the amount of time that can effortlessly be spent outdoors, there is a barbeque to starboard and a fridge to port, with a Bimini overhead to offer additional shade. The whole area is sociable, comfortable and sheltered and in close enough proximity to the saloon that conversations can be held between the inside and the outside.
Moving forward from the cockpit, you'll probably be as impressed as I was by the double doors with solid steel handles. These open to the saloon decorated in tones of gray, brown and cream, giving a contemporary but warm look. The floor is in wenge, the couches and seats in cream Alcantara with more gray, brown and cream striped cushions. There are electronically controlled cream linen curtains that descend over the elegant, tapering windows. To starboard as you enter is a cabinet in wenge, housing glasses, a refrigerator for drinks and the music system. A flat-screen TV also rises from the cabinet.
Further forward is a six to eight-person dining table with a sofa and chairs, all trimmed in white Alcantara. To port is an L-shaped couch around a glass and stainless steel coffee table. A further seat forward, matching, completes a C configuration around the table, but without making it formal or constricting, just very inviting.
Forward of the sofa is the helm station with two racing-style wraparound grey leather seats that tilt both backwards and forwards for optimum visibility. A black console trimmed with dark leather offers a full range of instrumentation, resembling the bank of instruments on an aircraft. There are joystick controls, twin navigation screens with data such as speed. The only minus here is that when smaller people, such as myself, are driving, the visibility is slightly blocked by the left-hand corner of the instrument console which juts into your line of vision. A larger speed display would also be an advantage.
Now for the test. We set out in calm conditions, secure in the seats, and soon we were comfortably circling in a diameter of 65 or so feet at 25 knots. The attention paid by Uniesse to the design and strength of the hull certainly showed. Going over waves there was no bouncing or smacking of the hull and the motion was even and comfortable; I would have no qualms putting to sea in rough conditions. Powered by two MAN 1360 engines, the 70 Sport cruises at 28 knots with a maximum speed of 33. Although the model displaces 38 tons when fully loaded, we could push her to the plane in 12 to 13 seconds.
Continuing the tour below decks: Down a few central steps from the lounge, also in wenge with small lights hidden in them, is a corridor to the sleeping area and, to starboard, the entrance to the galley. Situated under the windscreen, the galley is perfectly placed with a great deal of natural light and effectively rises over two floors, another innovation. Finished in bleached oak, the galley is fully equipped with generous work surfaces, an oven and a full-height fridge. The most interesting feature is a central electric storage box of around a yard square that rises out of the floor to a height of at least a yard. An excellent design as there can never be enough storage space aboard, and the electronic mechanism turns under-floor space, usually awkward to access, into another cupboard.
The corridor is welcoming with horizontal stripes, again in the cream and brown, nicely complementing the wenge floor. Immediately to the left of the stairs is the owner's cabin. Once through the entrance door there are further stairs and a small corridor in oak leading you astern to the cabin itself. The full-beam (18 foot) cabin is lit by two large eye-shaped portholes divided into three, letting in a substantial amount of light. The double bed is situated amidships facing forward and there is a wardrobe, vanity unit and a table and two seats for breakfast or a private dinner. The wood fittings are in wenge with the walls and ceiling in cream. A lot of hidden storage is cleverly incorporated into the area below the main stairs. A spacious en suite bathroom opens off the entrance corridor with a box shower with a wooden grating, a geometric style dark brown sink unit, steel-edged fittings and the walls and ceiling in cream.
Further down the corridor to port is a smaller cabin with two vertical bunks in bleached oak, ideal for children or for crew members (particularly as it is diagonally opposite the galley and near the helm). Opposite is a twin guest cabin with en suite bathroom and shower. To the bow is the VIP cabin, which is spacious, again in wenge and lighter brown shades and with an en suite bathroom with shower. Extendable reading lights and large portholes make this cabin pleasant to spend time in.
Stepping outside, you notice the wide walkways, although the guardrail could be higher. On the foredeck, there is a further sunbathing area with a padded sunbed that could host two couples. To the stern is a bathing platform and a spacious tender garage that can take a tender of around 12 feet.
In terms of looks, the Uniesse 70 is a bit like another enigmatic Italian beauty, the Mona Lisa. She is by any standards a very good-looking yacht, with aerodynamic lines and raised bow. But it is in the layout, interior, and use of space that the new flagship of the Sport range shows herself to be most adventurous, and much more intriguing than on first acquaintance, thanks to an innovative approach to design.
All too quickly, our short trip was over. But the impression lingers on, as does the belief that anybody would be very happy to spend a long holiday with friends or family aboard such an intriguing, sporty, and seaworthy yacht.