The Audacious “Audace”

Audace is a mega-yacht with some unusual customizations, like a soundproof disco room.

Cantiere delle marche yacht
The owner of Audace lives on board most of the year and wanted to build an explorer yacht that could travel to far-flung waypoints in style.Courtesy ScoobyArt

Mauro Sculli has more than three decades of experience in yacht design and naval architecture. So the head of Studio Sculli in Italy isn’t just making a play on words when he says the following about Audace, which means “bold” in Italian: “The owner’s specific, or should I say audacious, requests made the design and construction processes extremely stimulating.”

In fact, the adjectives Sculli uses only begin to describe this custom explorer from Italian builder Cantiere delle Marche. Audace is a 140-footer with five decks, unusual staterooms and a galley on the owner’s private deck. She serves as her owner’s home—he lives on board about 10 months per year. They’re 10 busy months too, spent cruising from the yacht’s home port of Ibiza in Spain’s Balearic Isles throughout the Mediterranean, with farther-afield regions such as the Red Sea and Caribbean also on the itinerary.

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Despite her unique tenders and toys, such as the Land Rover and BMW motorbike, her unusual layout, and her disco—two discos, actually—Audace does pay homage to convention. The interior ambience echoes that of classic steamships.Courtesy ScoobyArt

The yacht doesn’t exactly sit quietly in port, either. The owner loves having friends stay aboard as much as he loves throwing parties for upward of 200 guests. Late-night soirees are especially popular in the soundproof 1,076-square-foot disco on the lower deck. No need to head to one of Ibiza’s famed dance clubs, since the top DJs come aboard and spin till the sun comes up.

Of course, the owner likes excursions too, so Audace carries PWCs and a 33-foot main tender. And there’s a custom Land Rover Defender SUV and a BMW motorbike. While the land toys have their own launch system, the tender is handled by a bright red, 9-ton-capacity crane on the aft deck.

Andrea Merloni, Audace’s 51-year-old owner, is not like most yacht owners. Having lived aboard a 95-foot Inace the past several years, he planned to continue the practice but venture farther with a larger, rugged, reliable explorer underfoot. When he commissioned Audace, he had a clear vision of how he could keep a modicum of privacy while welcoming friends (or a few hundred friends) to join him.

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All four guest staterooms are VIP-level spaces. Note the balcony access.Courtesy ScoobyArt

Merloni started his search with Andrea Pezzini, the head of Floating Life, which provides build and technical consultations in addition to yacht management, charter and other services. Merloni and Pezzini met with a semicustom shipyard, but then realized that Merloni’s detailed list of must-haves, from the general arrangement to the technical systems, meant considering custom construction. They used Floating Life’s K Series as a jumping-off point. The K Series provides tank-tested, steel-hull designs and planned-out technical platforms, with engineering and naval architecture by Studio Sculli. All remaining details, including deck numbers, superstructure styling and space planning, are up to the clients.

This approach explains why Audace bore the reference K42 (for 42-meter) in her design stage and when Cantiere delle Marche announced the contract. But make no mistake: This yacht is tailored from top to bottom. Ennio Cecchini, Cantiere delle Marche’s co-founder and CEO, asserts that the level of detail tested the shipyard—in a good way. “A one-off project was a challenge we were ready to face,” he says. “For me, this is the fun—the soul of shipbuilding.”

Shipbuilding does lie at the yard’s core. Having come from a commercial-shipbuilding background, Cecchini established Cantiere delle Marche nine years ago with Vasco Buonpensiere, who handles sales and marketing, to build true explorers. They started with the aptly named Darwin Class series of yachts, some of which have put tens of thousands of nautical miles under their hulls. Plus, every Cantiere delle Marche contains cupronickel piping, independent rudders, 12-millimeter steel hulls—thicker than required by class society rules—and other workboat-oriented specifics.

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Audace’s owner likes parties and enjoys entertaining guests in the yacht’s disco.Courtesy ScoobyArt

While this approach to construction appealed to Merloni, he still had his own ideas. Audace has a full-height, full-length tech deck—aka the under-lower deck—containing, among other things, dry stores, a walk-in freezer, independent wine cellars (one for reds, one for whites), a garbage room with a compactor, and a laundry room. Merloni knew from his liveaboard experience and globe-trotting plans that stowage was key.

He also knew that given the long stretches of time he planned to spend on board, the crew would need better-than-average work and rest areas, which explains the en suite cabins that are essentially the size of guest staterooms aboard similar-size yachts. The galley enables two chefs to put out dishes for 250 guests at a time. One of the best benefits for crew is a side room, near the crew mess, with a watertight door leading outside. It lets them come and go privately via tender, especially if they’re loading provisions. An extra benefit, for crew and guests alike: On rainy or windy days, it’s a protected boarding area with a gangway that slides out from the sole.

Protection extends to Merloni’s privacy too. As much as he loves to entertain, he wants “me” time and gets it on his private deck, the fourth level. (Guests have the main and lower decks to use.) Blue-stained oak and natural teak soles highlight his stateroom forward. A TV lounge is abaft that space. Fully aft, an alfresco area contains a hot tub with flanking settees.

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The forward deck is home to the yacht’s Land Rover Defender, BMW motorbike and the crew tender.Courtesy ScoobyArt

Not that guests get the short shrift. Far from it, actually. Audace has two guest staterooms on the main deck with doors to the side decks, and two guest staterooms belowdecks with fold-down balconies.

One hundred tons of steel and 50 tons of aluminum later, Cecchini says people either love or dislike the design of Audace; that’s fine with him. “The engineering challenges were outstanding,” he says. There were 140 change orders from Merloni during construction, and still, Audace was just four months off her original delivery schedule.

Stimulating might not be the right word to describe this yacht’s creation. You might even say the process was downright audacious.

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