Join me. It’s 8 a.m. on day 3 of the 2016 Cannes Yachting Festival, one of the most important European boat shows of the year. We’re off to play with the new Ferretti Yachts 850. We’re up relatively early because sea trials need to be done and dusted by the time the show opens at 10.
At least we’re not far away. We’re at The InterContinental Carlton Cannes Hotel, less than a half-mile from the show, a leisurely 10-minute walk along the Boulevard de La Croisette. It’s a posh address. We’re in the marble-floor lobby, where there’s always a distinct whiff of expensive perfume, one of many reminders that this is a playground of the super-rich and that to be here is awesome. What we’re doing is awesome.
A quick pause at the revolving door, earphones in and playlist engaged. We’re off on foot. Music elevates the senses already picking up on fresh croissants and sunscreen. The hotel’s open-air terrace is serving breakfast to our left, and its private beach is across the road. Dozens of large and even larger yachts are at anchor in Golfe de La Napoule — a suitably glam backdrop. The weather is not-a-cloud-in-the-sky glorious.
We’re going right. I’m virtually skipping to work.
“A quick pause at the revolving door, earphones in and playlist engaged. We’re off on foot. Music elevates the senses already picking up on fresh croissants and sunscreen.”
Now we’re at the Ferretti Group stand, where a row of the latest Ferrettis rub fenders with their Riva and Pershing stablemates. There’s a coffee bar, where espressos and petite patisserie are dispensed. A caffeine hit shifts the mind into sharper focus. We step on board.
The Ferretti Yachts 850 is based on the still-current 800 and squeaks in under the 78-foot load-line limit. New in 2010, the 800 is effectively a big flybridge model with an elevated interior helm. About 30 have been delivered at $5 million or so a pop. Building on that base, the 850 has a raised pilothouse, although you wouldn’t realize it at first glance. The profile is interesting, but it’s her superstructure and hull glazing that really draw the eye. There’s almost a retro quality to this model, and the way the raised pilothouse melds into the flybridge without clear delineation is unusual. It’s both timeless and elegant.
The profile is all the better for the optional, sexy black hardtop. It covers about two-thirds of the fly and incorporates three large glass panels, almost automotive in style. Owners can do all sorts of things with flybridge furniture — all of which gets secured by quick-release pins, so things can be moved around when the yacht is tucked in an anchorage or a marina.
As for the rest of the outdoor space, it works. Behind deep, rail-topped bulwarks, the full side decks make for a big-yacht feel. There’s no balcony on this yacht, principally because balconies take up a lot of valuable internal volume and push up costs. Balconies on yachts in the 80-foot range are sometimes more about delivering light inside than being a needed feature. Ferretti’s solution for the 850 was to notch the bulwarks — so much easier for bringing the outside in.
The foredeck seating and lounging area is the place for a sundowner with friends, and the island sun pad can accommodate at least four guests.
In the cockpit, the furniture is on a whole new scale. The transom sofa is the width of the tender garage, and it’s suitable for every conceivable form of lazy-day lounging. A nice touch is the way the back cushion flips over on a hinge to deliver lumbar support during alfresco meals.
Inside, the main salon is typical Ferretti: oh so chic. But actually, this space is an open canvas all the way to the side-deck door to port and lower-deck staircase to starboard. A wall beyond there separates the guest zone and the crew area. The first 850 had dark-stained oak veneers and free-standing Minotti furniture, but there are all manner of options. Below-decks are four en suite staterooms with similar design flair.
The raised pilothouse is about function, very much the captain’s office.
The 850’s crisp white galley and the crew mess beneath are an improvement on the same spaces aboard the 800. There is more daylight because the base of the windscreen serves as a big skylight. Stairs from the galley lead to four crew berths in two twin-bunk cabins. The en suites are beyond the norm of the shared heads more often seen for crew in this size range.
At the stern, the garage accommodates a Williams 385 jet tender. When the garage door is open, it doubles as a swim platform.
For power, two MAN diesel options are available: twin 1,800 hp V-12s or 1,900 hp V-12s. Both are hooked up to V-boxes. The first 850 had the bigger engines, and when we wound her up to the maximum 2,350 rpm, she managed 29.6 knots on a barely rippled Med — not too far off the quoted 31-knot top end. We were fairly heavy, with full fuel, one-quarter water, two Seakeeper 9s and 12 souls. Fully loaded, her spec says she weighs in at slightly over 170,000 pounds. For relaxed passages, I suggest 1,000 rpm on the engines and a cruise speed of 10 to 11 knots. Better still, try 8 knots at 750 rpm. Cruising is not racing.
The less-oomph 1,800 hp V-12s deliver a maximum of 28 to 29 knots at full tilt and a fast cruise of 25 to 26 knots. With either engines, the range at 10 knots will be well in excess of 1,000 nautical miles.
As of early November exchange rates, the basic price for the 850 with the biggest engines was $4.75 million, but expect a nicely loaded version to approach $5.3 million. Ferretti sold four hulls, all with the biggest engines, before the Cannes Yachting Festival even opened. The first hull that we tested makes her home port in Antibes, where her Swiss owner uses her primarily for weekend cruising. The second hull went to an Italian owner, and the third was delivered to America. It should be just as much fun to walk down the docks and see the 850 at the spring boat shows in the States. I’ll look for you at the hotel in Miami.