Atlantis 55 — By Alan Harper —
The first all-new Atlantis is the product of an old yard and new thinking.
It’s been two years since Paolo Vitelli, head of Azimut-Benetti, absorbed the family-run Gobbi into his empire. The yard was a successful producer of midpriced sports cruisers, known for its advanced production facilities, but not a force to be reckoned with outside Italy. Vitelli installed Carla Demaria, one of his most senior managers, at its head and gave her a mission to recreate, rebrand, and revitalize it. Any doubts about whether he picked the right person for the job were quickly dispelled when, within months, she unveiled the Atlantis brand, with a new 47 and a revamped 42, at 2002’s winter shows.
It was an auspicious debut. Those boats clearly still were products of the Gobbi yard, but their interiors were up to date, and a huge amount of effort had gone into the detailing—the helm console of the 42 made it onto more than one magazine cover. The next boat out, which would be the first all-new project on Demaria’s watch and so the first true Atlantis, became one of the most eagerly awaited boats of the decade. And here it is.
If you want to be noticed, this is one way to do it. The external styling alone, particularly that fighter-style glass canopy, would be enough to grab anyone’s attention, but this boat is packed with a lot more innovations and ideas, inside and out. Some are real crowd pleasers. Cockpit tables are often in the way when you don’t want them and inaccessibly stowed when you do. On the 55, the teak cockpit table lives in the floor: Lift a hinged access panel in the deck, press a button, and it rises on a telescopic, hydraulic pillar. Two small triangular sections can then be unfolded, like simple origami, to make one large triangle. The teak deck panel can be folded down again, leaving no sign that it is not a permanent fixture.
The designers have also had fun with the saloon tables below decks. They are sculptural artifacts of steel and glass that can be turned, raised, and lowered (but only with the aid of a key, so don’t lose it), and when properly (and exactly) aligned, they can accommodate a rhomboid wooden infill section whose grooves slide neatly over the tables’ inner edges to make one long table for four. There are catches to prevent this infill from sliding off, but it might take practice before you trust them.
In the more fundamental and important areas, the designers have shown a real understanding of life aboard. The main deck layout is an object lesson in how things should be done, with a long, curving sofa and table on the bridge deck opposite the helm, port and starboard seating down aft, and a sunpad over the tender garage. The result is plenty of comfortable space to sit, lounge, or lie down, and with glass all around and overhead, the views from the upper dinette are unsurpassed. It really feels like sitting outside—especially with the big roof panel slid back. The helmsman, unfortunately, doesn’t share these views: The thick mullion that conceals the opening mechanism for the side window pretty much blocks his view to starboard.
This article originally appeared in the November 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.