Capt. Riccardo del Prete is excited, even though he isn’t exactly sure about what’s going to happen next.
He’s the captain aboard Imagine, a 110-foot Alloy whose owners are planning to sail around the world and make the boat available to charter guests along the way. The loose plan is for Imagine to leave the Caribbean and head toward Panama about the time you read this, and then spend time in Belize and the Galapagos Islands before crossing the Pacific Ocean. From there, she’ll head toward the Tuamotus, Marquesas and Society Islands for summer 2020, and she’ll be in her birthplace of New Zealand for the America’s Cup in March 2021. Next will be the Mediterranean, and after that, who knows?
“Our idea is to have the program and then see what the clients want to do,” del Prete says. “We can spend more time in the east or the west coast of Panama, or move to Costa Rica or to Belize. These are all beautiful places, and it will be interesting to see which inquiries come in.”
The round-the-world charter opportunities are the byproduct of the owner’s desire to cruise the world’s more remote locations. And because he wants to cruise farther afield than charter yachts usually go, clients also will have the opportunity to book in regions that typically aren’t offered by boats of any kind.
Imagine is precisely the right boat for that ambitious style of chartering, says Nicole Terry, who manages the yacht’s charter program with Camper & Nicholsons International.
“She has circumnavigated three times in her life and is a proven oceangoing, world-cruising sailing yacht,” Terry says. “She has also completed numerous Atlantic crossings and competed in many regattas. Imagine proudly bears one of the most sought-after design and build pedigrees of the sailing-yacht world: She hails from the drawing boards of the award-winning Dubois studio and was built by New Zealand’s Alloy Yachts in 1993.”
That pedigree, along with her 2018 refit, means Imagine’s appearance as a spectator yacht at the America’s Cup will be a homecoming for a local girl who sailed into the world and made good. The Cup will be raced in Auckland, on the same waters where Imagine did her shakedown runs after launching.
“It is quite poetic that she will be there and available to charter for the event,” Terry says, adding that the weekly base rate will be $79,000 during the Cup. “At this stage, we are open to any plans our clients might have. We are already getting a lot of interest for this period, and everyone is very excited already to be there—the crew and captain included.”
The yacht has three staterooms and can charter with as many as seven guests in a few configurations. There’s a full-beam master with an adjoining children’s corner for two youngsters. One of the guest staterooms has a double berth, and the other has three singles. The layout makes her an option for a family with children or for a group of adults.
“The other major element is that Imagine is a true yachtsman’s yacht,” Terry says. “Capt. Riccardo loves to get sailing enthusiasts young and old involved in the plotting of the route and the sailing of the yacht where he can. Sailing lessons, cooking lessons, yoga lessons, fishing—this is a crew that love to get the guests involved and are happy to share their passion. I think this is great for groups of adults who want to learn or are already sailors—and truly wonderful for children, to inspire them and educate them about the ocean, winds and stars.”
Del Prete says he puts a premium on guest comfort even in remote destinations, a skill set that will be needed for charter clients who want to book in archipelagos where the boat may be the only place around with provisions, air conditioning and first-aid gear.
“We have a very high standard of comfort on board, even in remote places,” he says. “We can tailor the program for guests who want more or less adventure. Some people just want to be on the beaches, but others want all kinds of scuba diving. We can do both.”
Terry says her team at Camper & Nicholsons can work with clients who want to book just one week or who want to book several weeks aboard in different destinations, flying back and forth to the yacht to meet up with del Prete and the crew as they make their way around the world.
“We are certainly seeing more interest from clients in further-flung places,” Terry says. “The Med will always be a strong cruising ground, but more and more clients are interested in venturing to places as extreme as Antarctica. This is also evident in the fact that the owners too are keen to venture there themselves and share these wonderful destinations with family and friends on their yacht. Imagine isn’t heading to Antarctica just yet, but you never know.”
For del Prete, simply planning the upcoming circumnavigation has been an adventure. He’s thinking about the places that he will be seeing for the first time and about the leeway the owners are allowing to truly explore them.
“We will have plenty of time,” he says. “We do not want to be rushed. We can go and go without touching any port. It’s very exciting.”
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