Uniesse is certainly not a name that rolls off the tongue easily. Seeing it in print, most folks in these United States want to start off with the “you” sound. But once they get used to saying “ooh” at all the delightful features, they won’t have any trouble pronouncing the name.
Uniesse has become one of the better-kept secrets in yachting. Insiders know this builder for pleasing designs, high quality, and fair pricing.
Standing across a waterway south of Miami to sneak a peek at the 65 Sport, there was no question of her Italian heritage. The dark hull gleamed, and the huge windshield swept back rakishly from the foredeck. Euro-styling can feel a bit trendy, but some has evolved to the point of classic. The 65 Sport will be stylish and appealing for years. I admit I don’t understand why some things are ageless, but I do know I’d rather have dinner with Sophia Loren than Britney Spears.
Stepping from the dock to the wide transom swim platform, the satiny feel of sun-warmed teak on my bare feet was the beginning of an altogether delightful experience. I was being hosted by Rafael Barca, the gracious Uniesse importer for the Americas and a man who is also clearly captivated by Uniesse yachts, and Captain Carlos Andrade, who was keeping this 65 Sport in showroom condition for her private owner.
The swim platform is wide, but it isn’t one of those oversized behemoths that carry personal watercraft or tenders. The Uniesse 65 Sport doesn’t need that because it has a garage cleverly hidden in the transom. With retractable rollers, a 10-foot tender can easily be rolled out and then launched using the dual-purpose Besenzoni passerelle that serves as a davit. It’s a slick arrangement that creates a large teak “beach” and keeps the dinghy from blighting the hull lines. The second reason for the wide platform: The 65 Sport can be ordered with optional Arneson drives, and the extra width covers the exposed props. More on that later.
In the teak-soled cockpit, a large sunpad combines with a teak table for alfresco dining. I was impressed by the stainless steel bollards with Lofrans warping winches and roller hawses in each corner. Finishing out the cockpit are a pair of streamlined consoles that hold a Miele grill and ice maker on one side and a fridge on the other.
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Step through the impeccably crafted stainless steel sliding doors into the cool, airy, and delightful saloon. The Italians make furniture that is comfortable and good-looking, and the wraparound settee to starboard is perfect for enjoying the pop-up television to port.
The windows, shaped like Cleopatra’s eyes, let in plenty of light, but the owner had specified wonderful Roman blinds, a stylish way to take the edge off the tropical sun. Speaking of owner-specified, it’s important to point out that Uniesse is a builder that will bend over backwards to satisfy a client. I asked Rafael what they were prepared to change when it came to layout and bulkheads and systems, and his one-word answer summed it up perfectly: “Anything!”
Take a close look at the wenge table, which unfolds like an origami sculpture to morph from low cocktail table to full dining table- very slick. This interior made the most of the pale whitewashed oak joinery, which contrasts with a wenge-planked sole to give this 65 a beachy and casual interior.
Forward, the skipper is cosseted in one of a pair of comfortable leather seats that wouldn’t look out of place in a Ferrari. The Italians do great leather: The helm console is a beautifully stitched piece of art. The helm is layered, putting switches close to the skipper, engine panels in a second tier, and Raymarine displays just below the windshield, and lines of sight are spectacular. An immense, and I mean immense, sunroof opens the saloon and helm area to the fresh air.
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The galley is down, and benefits from the expansive windshield that acts like a skylight overhead, although the brightly finished cabinetry make it cheerful even at night. Upscale appliances include a four-burner Miele cooktop, under-counter dishwasher, and doubledoor Isotherm eye-level fridge. And check out the under-sole pantry: Open a floor hatch, push a button, and a cavernous locker rises for access without getting on your knees. It’s big enough for food for weeks…or a few cases of Cristal. Tough choice.
A passageway leads forward and the first door on the left brings you to the elegant master suite with leather details and a one-piece molded Italian-glass vanity. This private enclave offers the owner a bureau, a comfy settee, several large windows, and two large hanging lockers, plus an en suite head with a large shower.
Throughout my tour, I kept opening lockers and pulling up panels, trying to find one area that wasn’t finished either in smooth gelcoat or fine wood. No luck the level of finish is superb, even out of sight.
All the way forward on the passageway is the VIP suite, with the space and amenities you’d find in the master on many yachts this size, including a mosaic-lined shower, glass vanity, and European fixtures.
In mid-passage is a third cabin with twin berths and a day-head finished to the same high standards. An en suite crew cabin of European proportions is tucked between the engineroom and the garage.
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The Uniesse 65 Sport is built, as an American would say, like a brick outhouse. The hull underwater is solid fiberglass as thick as two inches, the sides are cored with Airex, and there is no wood used in the structure except for furniture and joinery. Even the stringers are Airex-cored. The moldwork is superb, as evidenced by the dark-blue hull free of ripples, but there is also great forethought and engineering reflected in the deep gutters around the deck hatches and the frameless windows that are perfectly fitted around the house. Weldwork on everything from the stainless steel rails to the huge hinge for the garage is impeccable.
Now, about the engines. This is where potential buyers of the Uniesse 65 Sport have an interesting choice. They can go with the standard 1,100-horsepower MAN V10 diesels or, as with our test boat, they can upgrade to 1,360-horse MAN V12s. Or they can opt for Arneson drives fitted to the smaller MANs. The efficient Arnesons give the smaller engines a top speed equal to the larger engines with conventional props. Do you want that glorious roostertail from the Arnesons or do you want your speed low key? Have fun!
And that is exactly what the Uniesse 65 Sport is: fun. Sliding into those seats behind the wheel and nudging the throttles forward gives a most satisfying push to your lumbar region. This hull is a development of a Jim Wynne-designed deep-V, and she loves to show off in rough water, slicing through swells and throwing spray far to the side. She tracks straight, but spin the wheel and she banks solidly around. The 65 comes up fast and flat onto plane. We topped out at nearly 36 knots, a bit behind the factory sea trial, which hit 38 knots without the owner’s gear and light on liquids.
During the sea trial, there was a conspicuous absence of noise. Uniesse puts soundproofing materials everywhere, even between the stringers in the house. From idle up into mid-rpms, my sound meter kept getting confused by the samba music on the stereo and had trouble sorting out engine sound from bow wave.
The Uniesse 65 Sport is well mannered, good looking without being too avant, flawlessly built, and just plain fun. And regarding pronunciation, I’m beginning to see why that “you” keeps ending up in Uniesse-it’s wishful thinking.
Uniesse Americas, (305) 673-3371; **www.uniesseamericas.com**