CRN SaramourBy Diane M. Byrne
Increasingly over the past several years, builders of custom yachts worldwide have been adding semicustom series to their offerings. It's a move that's paid off handsomely for some yards: Not only have they been able to retain more control over design and construction costs, but also they've fulfilled the desires of buyers looking for lower-priced yachts that can be ready months—and, in some cases, years—before fully custom builds.
Those advantages are undoubtedly among the reasons CRN unveiled plans for its Magnifica line of 46-meter (151-foot) yachts nearly four years ago. Having built more than 100 steel-and-aluminum yachts in Ancona, Italy, up to 70 meters (about 230 feet) since 1963, the yard recognized an opportunity to attract new customers and, hopefully, keep "growing" them through the range. With a set exterior styling from the celebrated team of Nuvolari & Lenard and major systems selected by the yard's own engineering department, the Magnifica series leaves just the interior to be planned out.
While this is no different than any other yard's approach to series builds, CRN does take a different tack when it comes to that interior. Most builders present buyers with a fixed space plan and a limited selection of decorative elements (in some cases just one wood option for paneling, for example). This runs the risk of each yacht looking like a carbon copy of her predecessor, leading some observers of the trend to disparage building in series as semiproduction construction. CRN is avoiding this problem by permitting owners to truly inject their own tastes in the interior. Indeed, if you compare the interior of the first Magnifica, which features abundant mahogany and rosewood paneling, to that of Saramour, there's no doubt these are anything but semiproduction yachts.
In fact, the owner of Saramour has embraced the chance to put his own imprint on the yacht in a way that will surprise and perhaps inspire other owners, even ones of fully custom yachts. Through the selection of multiple woods, textures, finishes, and colors, all chosen to pay subtle homage to the paintings, sculptures, and sketches from various masters specifically chosen for each room, he's turned the yacht into a veritable art gallery.
Don't get the wrong idea; the owner didn't forsake the advantages of a yacht, ranging from emphasis on open-air spaces to stowage for watertoys, in favor of works from Salvador Dali, Giorgio De Chirico, Karel Appel, and others. Saramour is still in many respects a traditional private yacht, complete with teak underfoot across the entire sundeck, aft on the upper deck's alfresco dining area, and rimming the main deck. She also has the diversions you'd expect to find on a craft capable of a reported 4,200-nautical-mile range at 11 knots, ranging from a handful of sunlounges to an open-air hot tub and PWCs (stowed on the bow, as the teak-lined, fold-down garage houses the RIB). But the interior spaces were essentially built and designed around the artwork.
Take the above-mentioned Karel Appel. This Dutch abstract expressionist is reportedly the owner's favorite artist, so it's no wonder two of his paintings are onboard. One hangs to port of the bed in the aft VIP cabin on the lower deck; the neutral tones of the oak cabinetry, bleached-oak sole, and combination of lacquered and leather-covered bulkheads ensure it's duly appreciated. The other Appel takes center stage in the dining area, and its vibrant yellows and oranges are echoed in the warm tones of the lacquered bulkhead supporting it as well as the chairs around the dark-stained oak table. And the placement of a benchseat to starboard, beneath the deep windows, shows how even furniture placement was carefully considered to focus attention on the art.
The master suite picks up on that latter concept particularly well. Forward on the main deck, the owner's domain is comprised of a study/relaxation area to starboard and a beamy stateroom fully forward. By stretching out on the inviting lounge in the study, Saramour's owner can ponder the influence of Rembrandt in the engravings by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, a.k.a. il Grechetto, a 17th-century Italian artist who is often credited with creating the monotype print-making technique. Within the stateroom itself, the owner is greeted by paintings by the surrealist Giorgio De Chirico and painter/sculptor/writer Salvatore Fiume, carefully hung on the bulkhead behind the bed (and highlighted by overhead lights positioned so as to avoid reflection). Various glassworks by a handful of different artists are also on that bulkhead as well as across from the foot of the bed.
The owner didn't forget about the rest of his guests, of course. A twin cabin and an additional VIP, both on the lower deck, are adorned with paintings whose colors are subtly replicated in the fabrics and other decorative goods; and odd as it may seem, works by Dali hang in each stateroom's en suite head. And while it departs somewhat from the art-gallery theme, it is noteworthy that the traditional fourth guest stateroom has been replaced with a gym that's open to the base of the stairway from the main deck as well as the hallway that leads to the other staterooms.
Whether they're fresh from a workout or an evening elsewhere aboard Saramour, guests will appreciate how the common areas make for a miniature Museum of Modern Art. The skylounge, with its large windows and low furniture, will certainly be a popular gathering spot, and even on days calling for indoor activity, it will remain cheery. A large abstract painting (large enough to be a wall panel unto itself), bursting with vivid oranges, blues, greens, and more, is situated on the forward bulkhead, with a benchseat and a lounge in tones of creamy yellow, orange, and ivory in front of it for meditative scrutiny. One deck below, the saloon is highlighted by colorful ceramic plates mounted on the aft bulkheads, with a curving settee to port and chairs to both sides, all grouped to permit easy conversations across the room.
The name for the armchairs brings up an interesting story. They're called Topkapi, which the manufacturer selected in honor of Topkapi Palace, the home to nearly every Ottoman sultan over the course of four centuries. Considered "the Palace of Felicity," it was radically different from both European and Islamic palaces of its time, thanks to its asymmetrical proportions. In that respect, it's hard to overlook the similarities between the palace and Saramour. In at least one guidebook, Topkapi Palace is classified as sui generis (alternately pronounced soo-eye-JEN-ur-us or soo-ee-JEN-ur-us), something that's in a class of its own. And among semicustom yachts—indeed, even some custom yachts—Saramour is certainly that.
This article originally appeared in the January 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.