Alfa — By Diane M. Byrne
Alfa and Omega
|A Greek yachtsman takes the first yacht of a new series from Benetti, and the yard solidifies its prominence among Italian builders.|
It all started with two carpenters at the dawn of the 19th century.
The men in question, Pasquinucci and Bergellini, launched the first tartana, a fishing boat with triangular sails, from the banks of the Burlamacca canal in Viareggio, Italy, in 1809. Their efforts convinced sailmakers, shipwrights, and others to try their hands at establishing viable businesses in the Tuscan village.
It succeeded better than anyone could have expected. Now the streets of Viareggio are bursting with shipyards, furniture makers, and other related businesses. In addition, the sheer number of yachts measuring 80 feet and larger that slide down the ways in this seaside resort each year arguably exceeds that of any other city worldwide, helping establish Italy as one of the most prolific boatbuilding countries in the world.
Throughout it all a few names have endured, one being Benetti. While the yard's current facility sits on the very same spot where Lorenzo Benetti went from being a shipyard worker to a shipyard owner in 1873, things have certainly changed. For one, fiberglass, aluminum, and steel motoryachts take shape instead of wooden sailing ships. And for another, despite enjoying success with its Classic line of fiberglass yachts and its 45- and 50-meter (147- and 164-foot) series of aluminum and steel motoryachts, Benetti is introducing a new series of 52-meter (171-foot) metal motoryachts. Alfa, the first in the series, showcases some new takes on space planning, but she also incorporates enough familiar elements to make an owner feel right at home.
One of the noteworthy space-planning elements is the inclusion of the VIP cabin amidship on the upper deck. Although it's not full-beam, being tucked to starboard, it does afford a terrific view due to its higher location and is sure to be welcomed by those special guests who are used to being relegated to the lower decks. Midnight snackers will appreciate the proximity of a portside pantry (complete with storage for 100 bottles of wine and champagne), mainly there to serve the bar in the full-beam sky lounge. The inclusion of a king-size bed makes drifting off to dreamland all the more easy.
Another unusual characteristic Alfa embraces is the open floor plan for the main-deck saloon and dining area. It's practically unheard of for a yacht measuring more than 150 feet LOA to feature this type of arrangement rather than incorporate a separate formal dining room. Switzerland-based Zuretti Interiors, which has worked with a number of Benetti owners, skillfully keeps the space from resembling a bowling alley. It's separated by a central buffet that's topped with metal columns; forward, the dining area incorporates a crystal table for 12, while in the saloon a relaxing conversation area with three sofas and chairs takes center stage. (One potential problem, however, is the fact that guests must step slightly down into the saloon. While the owner wanted it this way, it's easily missed, so someone can lose his or her footing.) Even though they're effectively separated, the rooms still feel united by the use of dark-stained tanganyika (a dark African wood in the walnut family) paired with honey-tone myrtle burl and a rope-like molding detail carved from tanganyika.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.