Maestro 65By Capt. Richard Thiel Photos by Jim Raycroft
The gozzo morphs into a cruising boat that’s been tailored to American tastes.
Take one look at the Maestro 65 and you can tell she’s got fishing in her bloodlines. No? You don’t see it? Okay, I have to admit, I didn’t see it either at first. But believe it or not, she does.
The 65 is one of three Maestros from the Italian builder Apreamare, which traces its boatbuilding roots back to 1849. The builder is headed by a famously garrulous Italian named Cataldo Aprea (hence the company name) who created a successful business building a pleasure-boat version of the gozzo, the traditional Sorrento fishing smack. In its original workboat form, the gozzo’s canoe stern facilitated the hauling of nets and propulsion by sculling. A displacement hull yielded efficiency, and high forward bulwarks and a sharp entry made it able to go out in any weather. After all, as Italian fishermen say, Niente pesca, niente soldi. (No fishing, no money.) Cataldo’s genius was to marry that lovely canoe stern, proud bow, and salty profile to a deep-V hull that produced good speed while maintaining seaworthiness.
Gozzo-style Apreamares were intended from the start to be primarily day boats or perhaps weekend cruisers. Then a few years ago, Cataldo decided that he also wanted to build serious cruising boats, and so was born the Maestro Series. Although they look nothing like the gozzos, they retain two key elements: a deep-V hull and high, protective forward bulwarks.
About a year ago a chap named Marc-Udo Broich, an experienced boater and successful entrepreneur, joined forces with Cataldo to modify all three Maestros to suit the tastes of boaters in the Americas. The first model of this Americas Series was the 65 I tested in December.
But before we talk about what makes the Americas Series different, let’s return to those fishing roots and what they mean. The day I tested the 65 out of Fort Lauderdale saw one of those typical winter northers with winds to near 20 mph and a nasty, shortly spaced, three-foot chop. Because we were also doing photography with a helicopter, I had to run the 65 on all points and at speeds between 20 and 35 mph. During those maneuvers the 65 jarred only once. Otherwise she put in a flawless performance witnessed by the only other boats that dared venture out on that inclement day—a half-dozen sportfishermen.
One thing that made running the 65 from the lower station such a pleasure was her wraparound vertical windshield, which up until then I’d considered merely an aesthetic feature. Turns out the vertical glass, combined with an 18-inch overhang, eliminates glare while providing 180 degrees of unimpeded sightlines. (I’m also told it reduces solar-heat gain, but thanks to prevailing 50-degree temperatures, I can’t confirm that.) One minor downside, however, is limited vertical views at idle speed, due to structural beams at the top of each window. I’m 5'10" and had to scrunch a bit to see into the distance. But fortunately, part of the gozzo heritage is a bow-high running attitude (maximum six degrees) that reveals itself almost immediately (three degrees at 1000 rpm), and which eliminates the issue.
As to the changes to the Americas Series, the three most obvious ones are the hardtop, a five-foot-longer cockpit overhang, and a larger hydraulic swim platform. Italian boats get a bimini top, which makes for a sleeker profile, but you can’t argue with the hardtop’s practicality. Nor can you fault the extended cockpit overhang, which creates both a more-shaded cockpit and additional unshaded space up top. On our boat the aft bridge deck was fitted with a crane at her owner’s request; it’s really superfluous with the big platform, which can hold a ten-foot RIB. European boats have tender stowage under the cockpit sole, an area that on this series has become a roomy lazarette/pump room, creating a remarkably uncluttered engine room. The bridge-deck helm console has doubled in size; it’s the same used on the builder’s 82.
Not much is different in the saloon. The nifty electrically lowering side and aft windows that make this a perfect warm-weather cruiser remain. (In case it gets too hot, air conditioning capacity has been bumped from 48,000 to 90,000 Btus.) You can also still electrically lower the glass bulkhead between the saloon and galley, which has changed: It’s now up, has marble countertops instead of Corian, and sports a full compliment of Miele appliances (dishwasher included) and a full-size refrigerator. A sliding interior door, watertight exterior door, and blinds on fore and aft glass let you isolate this area from the entertaining space when you just have to leave those dirty dishes for another day. The superb Maestro joinery throughout is available in your choice of teak, mahogany, or cherry, with a high- or semi-gloss finish.
The 65’s beautiful helm is basically the same, as is its double seat with flip-up bolster—particularly helpful when running at idle speed. Seat position is good but doesn’t adjust fore and aft. (Neither does the upper helm seat.) The L-shape settee to starboard has been vastly improved with the addition of a small slide-out desk/eating surface. A second watertight door to port leads to 18-inch-wide side decks with high bulwarks, making shorthanded passages safer. (There’s a small crew quarters for one or two between the lazarette and engine room.)
Below, the three-stateroom plan—midship master, forepeak VIP, and port-side guest stateroom—remains, though with more stowage, and the two en suite heads now have marble countertops and hand-laid tile showers. Just off the midship atrium, which is open to the windshield above, is a space you can have as an office or single-berth stateroom. Every room down here has at least two opening ports.
Taken together all these tweaks don’t so much make the 65 a better boat as make it better attuned to a different audience, an audience that will surely see both Italian and American influences in her. And if they look real closely, they just might also see a classic double-ender Italian fishing boat.
This article originally appeared in the February 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.