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Mangusta’s Rise to the Top

Like the predator it was named after, Mangusta's approach has always been about taking aim at its competitors.

Mangusta GranSport 54
The Mangusta GranSport 54 has a top hop of 29 knots, according to the builder. Courtesy Mangusta

The mongoose may be low to the ground with short legs, but it is a skilled, opportunistic predator. It feeds on smaller mammals and birds, as well as their eggs, along with a wide variety of insects. It especially likes snakes. In fact, the mongoose’s speed and agility make it extremely successful in pouncing on and killing venomous snakes like cobras—a contest that other would-be predators often lose.

The mongoose is the inspiration behind the Mangusta brand. The Italian word for mongoose is mangusta. During the 1980s, when fast open yachts populated the Mediterranean, Italian entrepreneur Giuseppe Balducci decided to go head-to-head against Tecnomarine’s dominant Cobra design. He established Mangusta in 1985 and, in the 1990s, introduced the first open mega-yacht—aka a maxi open.

Mangusta yacht hull
The craftsmen at Mangusta have delivered more than 300 hulls to customers around the world. Courtesy Mangusta

More than 300 deliveries later, Mangusta maxi opens are found around the world. With Balducci still at the helm, joined by his children, Mangusta has diversified too. The brand has taken aim at the metal builders in Northern Europe, offering displacement and fast-displacement yachts in sizes that those yards don’t construct.

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Born and raised in Tuscany, Balducci has spent his entire career in yachting. He got his start in a shipyard in Viareggio but yearned to establish his own company. After founding the Elettromare and Effebi shipyards—the latter constructing workboats, ferries and military craft, and still under his family’s ownership—he decided to bring something different to yachting. While open yachts were lots of fun, they didn’t offer a lot of space, nor did they have the best reputation for comfort underway. Why not, he reasoned, challenge the either-or decision?

With this philosophy behind Mangusta, his first launch was the Mangusta 80. The yacht made history. First, it was the largest open on the market. Arguably even more significant, the Mangusta 80 led to larger open maxis, up to 165 feet, from Mangusta. And the 165, which saw 14 deliveries, became known as the world’s fastest series-built mega-yacht, capable of upward of 35 knots.

Mangusta GranSport 54
The opened-up beach club on the Mangusta GranSport 54 is a prime piece of waterfront real estate. Courtesy Mangusta

Given Mangusta’s reputation for super-sleek, super-fast fiberglass yachts, the builder made a surprising move in 2013 by announcing the Mangusta Oceano 42 series. This was a 138-foot trideck with a steel displacement hull, capable of cruising more than 4,000 nautical miles at 11 knots.

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“The buyers of the classic party boat started to have families,” says Stefano Arlunno, whose title at the yard is president Americas. Arlunno likens Mangusta’s move to what the luxury automobile brands Porsche and Lamborghini did. “The best-perceived cars are sports cars, but even they build SUVs,” he says.

Alberto Mancini, the builder’s longtime design partner, gave the series the hallmark Mangusta looks and features, especially convex shapes and a foredeck sunning/seating area with an infinity pool. Namaste, the first Mangusta Oceano 42, “was a big success,” Arlunno says. “It had features that stood out then, especially the beach club.”

Mangusta Oceano 44
The Mangusta Oceano 44 is among the builder’s current offerings. Courtesy Mangusta

When Namaste debuted in 2016, beach clubs were only usable at anchor, and with the transom open. Namaste’s beach club was usable with the transom closed, and three horizontal transom ports brought in natural light. Additionally, beach clubs in the same size range typically doubled as tender garages. The Mangusta Oceano 42 stowed toys in a separate, side-launching garage.

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While there are now seven Mangusta Oceano models from 128 to 197 feet length overall, the builder continues to make inroads into metal construction. The Mangusta GranSport series is an all-aluminum, fast-displacement range, blending performance and transoceanic capability. It inaugurated in 2015 with the Mangusta GranSport 48. While capable of 26 knots, the 158-footer could also cover about 3,800 nautical miles at 12 knots. Today, the series includes three models from 108 feet—a size nearly impossible to find in metal—to 177 feet length overall.

“Different people are looking at the displacement and fast-displacement yachts than the maxis,” Arlunno says.

The maxi-open buyers tend to continue stepping up to larger maxis, he adds, whereas the other models attract clients coming over from traditional cruiser brands. In fact, Arlunno ascribes the latter success to consistency in Mangusta’s public image.

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Mangusta 104 Rev
The Mangusta 104 Rev is among the builder’s current offerings. Courtesy Mangusta

“We have been very lucky in the last few years in showing the yachts at the boat shows,” he says. Additionally, the team is keeping these clients in the fold. Arlunno says some owners of the 108-foot Mangusta GranSport 33 have jumped straight into the 177-foot Mangusta GranSport 54.

Mangusta is now re-imagining the maxi opens, collaborating with designer Igor Lobanov. Arlunno considers Lobanov’s work on the first model, the 104 Rev, to be a game-changer. “There’s nothing on the market like it,” he says.

While still aggressively sporty in style, the yacht incorporates more glass than other maxi superyachts, especially sole-to-ceiling sections along the vessel’s main deck. The 165 Rev, meanwhile, adds fold-down balconies and a two-level master suite to its layout. All the while, their speed is still, well, speedy. The Mangusta 104 Rev hits 35 knots, while the 165 Rev should make 34 knots, according to the builder.

Iconic boatbuilding brands like Mangusta earn renown for staying true to their principles. Still, they need to evolve. The trick, like what the mighty mongoose does, is to remain agile while embracing the risk.  

Mega Success

Since opening its doors in 1985, Mangusta has delivered more than 300 mega-yachts worldwide. Some 110 of these deliveries exceed 100 feet length overall. The maxi opens, which are the majority, are constructed in Viareggio, Italy. The metal yachts are built in nearby Pisa.

American Appeal

US yachtsmen are increasingly becoming Mangusta clients. “This year is the best year we’ve had,” says Stefano Arlunno, president Americas. A full 40 percent to 50 percent of the builder’s production is coming stateside. The first two hulls of the new 104 Rev maxi-open series, for instance, belong to Americans.

Welcome to Miami

Stefano Arlunno, Mangusta’s president to the Americas, has been with the builder since 2012 when it established its wholly-owned North American office. The use of “Americas” in Arlunno’s title is deliberate, as is the choice of Miami for his office. Mangusta recognizes South America as a strong market too.

Take the next step: mangustayachts.com

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