70 — By Richard Thiel
|The Uniesse 70 offers Italian craftsmanship and an American-designed deep-V hull from a builder with an unusual history.|
The boatbuilding graveyard is littered with the bodies of entrepreneurs who got into the business because they loved boats but lacked the industrial acumen to run a profitable manufacturing company. Then there are the exceptions, like the four Scaburri brothers, whose passions led them to start a boatbuilding business in Bergamo, Italy, but who also were accomplished industrialists when they made that decision. Their company, Uniesse, was and still is one of the world's leading manufacturers of buttons.
What could the manufacture of buttons possibly have in common with that of boats? Believe it or not, quite a lot. Uniesse began building wooden buttons right after World War II and so became intimately familiar with the fine hardwoods from which they were made. When the preferred button material changed to plastic in the `60s, the company became expert in the use of resins of all types. So when the brothers decided to start a boat company of the same name in 1987, they had a storehouse of knowledge in boatbulding's two essential materials.
Because the brothers shared a lifelong love of and involvement in boating, they had a pretty good idea of what kind of boat they wanted to build. The ability to handle rough water was a paramount criterion, but instead of turning to one of Italy's many fine designers to draw a hull that could accomplish that, they instead turned to the United States and tapped the team of Jim Wynne and Fred Hudson. (After Wynne died in 1990, Hudson continued to design on his own.) The duo came up with a basic design that has been applied generally throughout the line, which today starts at 40 feet and ends at 70. It's a variable-deadrise form that begins with very fine convex sections forward and tapers to 12 degrees at the transom. One half-length lifting strake per side assists in planing, and additional lift and spray control are generated by unusually wide down-angled chines.
Complementing Hudson's hull is a conservative construction philosophy that emphasizes strength. Hulls and decks are built by either of two affiliated yards to Uniesse's specifications using isophthalic resin throughout the laminate, not just in the outer layer. The hulls are cored with balsa from the chine to the sheer, and the hull bottom is stiffened with a complex grid system which also provides wells for tanks and mounting fascia for the flooring and is built of unidirectional mat and woven roving. Decks and topsides are cored with Airex to minimize weight aloft. All bulkheads (the fore- and aft-most are watertight) and cabinetry are glassed to the hull to enhance stiffness and structural integrity.
Interior furniture is generally solid wood--no veneers. It is constructed in the boat, then removed to an atmospherically controlled paint booth where seven or eight coats of lacquer are applied, then reinstalled. All wiring is run in channels, and the engines are affixed via through-bolts to stainless steel "wing rails" that cap the engine beds. Each boat is fitted with a standard fire suppression system, which includes automatic dampers that shut all engine-room vents to maximize the effectiveness of the extinguishant.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.