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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Sessa Fly 45

Flying High

The Sessa Fly 45 combines slick styling detail with a massive flying bridge built for entertaining.

Jad Migliorini knows style. Milanese by luck and a cosmopolite by choice, the sales manager for Sessa Marine always seems to look like he just stepped out of a GQ ad, fresh from some scene where the espresso is artfully brewed, and the sunlight glances off the cobblestone streets just so. Migliorini’s shirts are well tailored, his loafers tastefully exotic, and a pair of keyhole sunglasses perches haphazardly atop his head as if he forgot they were even there. In short, he has a firm grasp on the Italian concept of sprezzatura, the practice of putting unseen and calculated effort into looking totally effortless. So when a guy like this stands in the middle of a boat’s saloon—in this case Sessa’s new Fly 45—and, gesturing to the crisp cookies-and-crème color scheme within, explains in accented English, “These are the colors you want. This is timeless, this will always be in style,” you’d be wise to listen to the man.

That saloon is certainly charming, replete as it is with soft leathers contrasted with a rich walnut sole. These European details are all the more striking when observed in their typically American layout, which features a port-side  galley that is totally open to the rest of the space. “For conviviality!” Migliorini nearly chirped. It’s evident Sessa has gone to great pains to “Americanize” this boat, not only with the main deck’s layout, but also with its Elegance Package, a bundle of options—including amenities like an electrically adjustable helm seat, LED spotlights, and underwater lights—designed to ease the burden of customization for the American buyer. What’s more, Sessa has taken to fixing the prices of its boats in dollars so the company takes on the risk of a fluctuating Euro. With all this focus on the U.S. market then, it’s no surprise that Sessa is also aggressively seeking out stateside dealers to distribute its boats.

Perhaps the company is so hot to sell the 45 because it knows it’s got a good thing going. Positioned in the marketplace as a competitor to similarly conceived builds from Azimut and Princess, the boat is a well-designed, functional, and gamely athletic cruiser that’s definitely built to party. The main deck boasts an interior helm station to starboard that has surprisingly good lines of sight. To be truthful, I wasn’t expecting much. In my opinion, European boats oftentimes tend to trade sleek lines for a claustrophobic lower helm that would send most any captain scrambling to the topside pilot seat in all but the worst conditions. Not so on this boat. A standard Raymarine display aids with navigation while the captain pilots the boat from a leather-accented helm flanked by refreshingly large windows that open electrically to allow for a cross breeze.

Below, the accommodations can be configured with either two or three cabins, though the three-cabin layout on my test boat feels like a no-brainer to me. My reasoning here is twofold. First, the two-cabin model allows for a second galley, which seems like wasted space on a 45-footer. And second, if you’re only looking for two cabins, Sessa offers a similar 40-footer with just such a configuration that sells for about $215,000 less. Seems to me that if you just require the two cabins you might as well get the smaller model and buy a couple of Porsches or send a kid to a private, four-year college with the leftovers. But I could be wrong.

The highlight on this deck is doubtlessly the forepeak master. The cabin has a king-size berth with well-laid-out steps and a full 6 feet 7 inches of headroom. Smallish portholes don’t do much by way of lighting the space, but Sessa took care of that with a large hatch that lets in enough sunlight to keep the cabin airy. The en suite head follows suit, particularly in the shower compartment where spacious measurements indicate this boat is ready for the stereotypically broad shoulders of the American customer. I stepped into the compartment myself and had plenty of room, and suffice it to say that my shoulders would split Migliorini’s shirt seams. Abaft the master the 45 has those two guest cabins, perhaps most notable for their large walnut lockers, designed to keep guests dressed to kill at dockside soirees. (Leave it to the Italians to build lots of closet space on a boat.)

The 45 Fly enjoys all this interior volume in part due to Sessa’s penchant for putting IPS drives on its vessels, including all of its models over 40 feet. In this case the 45 has twin Volvo Penta 435-horsepower IPS600s in a clean and orderly engine room. Which is not to say that the space is particularly roomy—headroom is at a premium and when I crawled in between the engines my hips were flush to them—but that’s not altogether uncommon on a boat of this size or type, and also serves as a not-so-subtle reminder to stick to your diet.

Performance-wise however, those powerplants left little to desire. The boat impressed with a sporty 32-knot two-way average at wide-open throttle, and a 24-knot cruise near 3000 rpm. Meanwhile her hull handled the 2- and 3-foot swells easily, providing a soft ride throughout as we glided over the glinting midwinter Atlantic. Hardover at cruise the boat came around in about four boat lengths—so she’s no clod by any stretch—but for me personally, I’d like to see those pods dialed in to make the turning a little bit tighter so the boat’s responsiveness is more in line with her unmistakably sleek look and feel. 

I ran the performance test from the boat’s flying bridge helm, which is still the optimal place to drive a sun-worshiping vessel like this, no matter how good the sightlines are below deck. The topside helm is part of a flying bridge that—mark my words—will leave your guests chattering, namely because of its relative enormity. A forward sunpad is certainly appreciated by the tanning masses but is not particularly unexpected. What is noteworthy is the bridge’s full overhang above the cockpit, which is the genesis of this deck’s commanding sense of space. The aft portion of the bridge is reserved for seating and entertaining since a tender just shy of 10 feet in length can stow on the teak swim platform. Wraparound seating accommodates up to nine people while a foldout dining table stands at the ready for service of wine and crostini. Overhead a bimini top that comes standard with the Elegance Package provides shade if needed while a standard grill and bar unit will help keep your guests fueled up to party the night away.  

Migliorini likes this part of the boat in particular, and could barely contain his excitement while showing off the grill and aft seating. “It’s like this,” he said, gesturing to the expanse of the deck. “You come up here with friends, you maybe have a little bit of wine … you stay up late … and then in the morning …” he flipped his sunglasses down from his head, flopped down on the bench seat, and lay grinning in the sun, totally motionless, completely silent. For a moment it seemed as if he had forgotten I was even there. Actually, in retrospect, maybe I should have gone down to the galley and whipped him up an espresso.

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This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.