53 Motoryacht — By Jeffrey Moser
— December 2005
Italian-American Social Club
Italian style and American design create a harmony of sweet lines and a soft ride on this 53-footer.
It was a lifelong passion for yachting that led the Scaburri brothers, who had no experience as boatbuilders, to start a boatbuilding company in Bergamo, Italy, in 1987. It was also the family’s success as industrialists in a field that couldn’t be further from the sea that has helped ensure its success. The four brothers that founded Uniesse Marine are fourth-generation owners of the largest button-manufacturing business in the world. How the production of buttons has given Uniesse Marine an advantage in boatbuilding, where so many others have failed, is a remarkable story.
Like boats, buttons were once made exclusively of wood, and the Scaburri family was expert in selecting the finest hardwoods for its buttons. In the 1960’s, when plastics came in, the brothers became masters in the field of resins. Today Uniesse purportedly uses a polymer originally developed to keep buttons white to maintain the finish of the yachts’ gelcoat.
But while the Scaburris’ knowledge of boatbuilding materials was impressive, they needed to find someone who could translate this knowledge into a good design. Miami-based industrial designer Fred Hudson had the pedigree to meet their vision of merging an aesthetically pleasing boat with a hull design that was tough enough to handle rough water.
Hudson began his career with Chrysler, where he was part of the team that created the blazingly fast 300 series. After moving to AMC, his successful collaboration with Italian coachbuilders in refining the late 1960’s AMC AMX speedster was perhaps a sign of things to come. He also had experience in boatbuilding: As chief exterior stylist for Chris-Craft from 1960 to 1964, he was responsible for the classic Constellation line. Today Hudson has designed every Uniesse since the company’s inception in 1987.
Along with style, the brothers demanded substance, so Hudson’s hulls are built to deliver. The 53 MY, like all Uniesses, features a solid-fiberglass bottom—the 53’s is purportedly three inches thick—with sides and deck sandwiched with Airex core, and every 18 inches the hull is reinforced with a solid-box grid system. According to Uniesse, the combination creates an unusually stiff hull that is designed to withstand extreme conditions.
I was made aware of all this before I arrived in Miami, for a sea trial on the 53 MY. So once I found her, I quickly boarded and went directly into her engine room, accessed through a hatch in the cockpit sole and down a stainless steel ladder. The grid was indeed beefy, as were the fiberglass-encapsulated mahogany engine bearers (which reached above my shin) and the through-bolted engine mounts that secured the twin 710-hp Cat C12 diesels. Space, however, was limited: I measured 5'0" of headroom, forcing me (5'11") to crouch, and less than two feet between engine bearers, tight for a mechanic and his tools. However, the banks of AGM batteries outboard of each powerplant were easily accessible, as were the 13.5-kW Onan genset and Racors. The engines were also serviceable on all sides.
This article originally appeared in the December 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.