Baglietto MV13By Alan Harper
Italian superyacht builder Baglietto drew on its military heritage with the design for this sharp speedster.
It was blowing and had been for some time—a stiff southwesterly had the flags snapping to attention and sailboat halyards in the crowded harbor clanging like cacophonous metronomes. It was typical winter weather, but it was still only September. I’ve had sea trials cancelled in better conditions, and on boats far bigger than the Baglietto MV13. As I watched, the boat was being made ready for sea by a shipyard crew encased from head to foot in heavy foul-weather gear. Just for me.
I felt a pang of guilt, but it soon passed. This was going to be fun.
I wasn’t expecting to see the MV13 at the boat show in Cannes, and I’m not sure anyone else was either. The previous year, I had interviewed Beniamino Gavio, the owner of Baglietto, and he’d mentioned a still-secret boutique project—a limited edition of small, simple craft designed to attract attention and celebrate the venerable shipyard’s rich naval heritage. While Americans have Elco, builder of Jack Kennedy’s PT-109, and the British remember the exploits of Vosper and British Power Boat Company motor torpedo boats, the Italians hold the name of Baglietto in the highest esteem. Long before the superyacht era, its fast boats fought with panache and distinction in two world wars and became the stuff of legend.
So I’d told Gavio I thought it was a splendid idea, and I thought no more about it. Knowing now what he was thinking then, I might have pressed a bit further for details.
Beyond Military Spec
You can tell the MV13 was built by a superyacht yard. The finish—tactile matte-gray paint, glowing teak, and flawless welding—gets better the closer you look. This boat is a beautiful object. An Italian design magazine dubbed her gioiello di alluminio, an aluminum jewel. But in the best traditions of its naval predecessors, she is also entirely functional. Fully half the hull’s length is taken up with the machinery space—engines and tanks—accessed through big stern hatches. The 800-horsepower MANs drive aft on straight propeller shafts angled at 11.5 degrees. Accommodations consist of a double berth, a small galley, and a large head. For a rather pricey powerboat, it’s resolutely no-frills.
That, of course, is only half the story. The MV13 is also a high-concept project from Baglietto’s regular man of the last 20 years, Francesco Paszkowski. Based in the hills outside Florence, the Milanese designer has actually been sketching this idea for six years (See “Better Boat: Design That Works,” opposite). Only when Gavio bought the yard and commissioned the build could the drawings become reality.
The interior of the MV13 looks, at first glance, authentically 1940s. Then you notice that the hull frames and deck beams are clad in stitched leather, and the tongue-and-groove planks lining the hull sides are lusciously lacquered. Details like leather locker handles and tailored galley stowage add luxury, while the folding table and worktop, and the deep hanging locker, are reassuringly practical. Sensible space planning ensures that whatever else the MV13 might be, it is a comfortable two-person dayboat. Headroom is a generous 6 feet 3 inches, and at 6 feet 6 inches long by nearly 7 feet at its widest, the berth is huge.
Once clear of the Old Port of Marseilles breakwater, we threaded our way through the flotilla of anchored yachts pitching at their chains and took the first real wave on the starboard bow. It was a short but heavy punch that immediately raised a solid sheet of spray, which hung in the air and then descended with pitiless inevitability. We were drenched. It was good to get it out of the way.
The seas were 4 to 5 feet, short and steep. Spray blew overhead and seawater streamed across the boat’s long, pugnacious snout as we battled at 30-plus knots. The ride was sure-footed and the deep-V ironed out the seas like a thoroughbred offshore racer. There was plenty in reserve, but it was far too rough to open the throttles wide. Apart from one hint of chine riding while running fast downwind—quickly solved by throttling back—the hull was completely uncowed by the conditions, and perfectly content to take the fight to the elements.
I knew it was going to be fun, but the ride was fantastic. It was a battle, and we were winning.
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