Photography by Billy Black
The Benetti Delfino 93 Ocean Drive is proof positive that a passionate yachting couple and a knowledgeable, quality-driven shipyard can create a lasting legacy.
You know a couple is committed to the overall yacht ownership experience when they tell you they visited the shipyard where their new yacht was built nine times during construction. No mere drives, the trips required transatlantic flights, from the United States to Italy. The frequency of visits is unusual even for a fully custom project. So when you realize theirs is a semi-custom yacht, a Benetti Delfino 93, it’s all the more remarkable.
So, too, is the level of customization aboard their yacht, christened Ocean Drive. Indeed, even the proprietary BEST (Benetti’s Exclusive Sea Technology) system that controls entertainment, lighting, air conditioning, and more is at a higher specification than it is aboard the largest all-custom Benettis.
This is exactly the type of involvement and detail that the Italian builder welcomes with this semi-custom fiberglass series. It doesn’t matter that the Delfino 93 is the smallest of the Benetti Class range; neither Benetti nor its clients confuse size with limitations. In fact, the fiberglass Delfino 93 offers design flexibility and a range of amenities akin to far larger yachts.
Nearly two years ago, the owners of Ocean Drive were facing a problem all too common among families that cruise: the need for more room. With two children entering their teens, they were outgrowing their Uniesse 72. Adding to matters, the mix of genders among their children’s friends, who occasionally join them overnight onboard, was dictating the need for separate staterooms.
With four guest cabins belowdecks, one more than the Uniesse, the Delfino 93 quickly resolved the accommodations problem. Two VIPs and two twins, the latter further equipped with pullmans, comprise the standard layout. Had the owners so wished, they could have opted for a full-beam VIP suite, something more typical of yachts twice Ocean Drive’s size. Something they did do, though, is take the décor up a notch. Stingray leather augments panels overhead as well as the desktop/vanity in each cabin. It lends a thoroughly contemporary feel, complementing mirrored bulkhead panels that camouflage the pullmans when they’re not deployed and enhancing the feeling of space.
Speaking of spatial enhancements, the Delfino 93’s 23-foot beam lends the sensation that the main-deck common areas and the master stateroom forward are all aboard a larger yacht. Indeed, some semi-custom yachts measuring 20 feet longer have similar beams. And, as much as the saloon and dining area are to be appreciated, Ocean Drive’s owners definitely get the better end of the space deal in their stateroom. Their choice of stingray leather and ultra-soft, silvery carpeting is eye-catching yet neutral enough to allow the natural light coming in from each side to enhance the feeling. Increasingly, yachts in the 100-foot size range are incorporating main-deck owner’s staterooms, but few, if any, boast the big ports the Delfino 93 offers. And none come to mind that have cutouts in the side-deck bulwarks (fitted with safety rails, of course) to allow owners to enjoy more of the scenery.
Neither do many semi-custom builders have a variety of en suite master bath layout options. Most simply offer—and, to be fair, most owners welcome—a double sink and a tub, plus a shelf or two. It’s an area few designers, builders, and owners pay much mind to, outside of the stonework and woodwork used to outfit it, unless you get up into the fully custom size range. Since Ocean Drive’s owners plan to cruise aboard the yacht just as frequently as they did their previous one, they wanted it to be practical as well as beautiful. It therefore has a full linen locker adjacent to a shower, sans tub, plus a laundry bin that you wouldn’t even know was there unless someone showed it to you. (Gentlemen, trust the Mrs. on this one; it’s a good idea.)
As mentioned earlier, Ocean Drive’s owners requested the highest levels of specification for Benetti’s BEST to date. When Benetti installed the first version of its infotainment control system back in 2006 aboard a 193-footer, the company probably never anticipated the highest-tech version would be aboard its smallest yachts. BEST is similar to other systems that have wall-mounted or handheld devices connected to a central server onboard. However, some manufacturers’ systems rely on a specific type of device, whereas BEST was designed to work with whatever hardware an owner selects, from laptops to smartphones. Aboard Ocean Drive, a handful of iPads tie in to a central server, the latter stowed in a slide-out drawer in the raised pilothouse. (The drawer is cleverly concealed behind the observation settee and wisely vented overhead for the majority of the time it will stay concealed.) At the swipe of a finger, the owners can select one of about a dozen different lighting moods alone. Then, they can adjust the curtains, lower or raise the air conditioning, put on some music, and do a number of other things to boot. Guests have similar iPads in their staterooms, too, and additional iPads are in common areas like the saloon. What’s more, technicians at Benetti’s headquarters can log in via an Internet connection to add more features, like video surveillance or live navigation data, should Ocean Drive’s owners so wish. The technicians can also automatically update BEST or diagnose any anomalies at any time.
Ocean Drive’s owners further wanted to incorporate LEDs onboard, and you’ll find good use of them on the flying bridge, around the base of the hot tub, and outboard to each side. While LEDs are used aboard other Benettis, the shipyard partnered with three lighting and control specialists to create a setup exclusive to Ocean Drive that incorporates an RGB white LED lighting system. (RGB stands for red, green, and blue. RGB white LEDs are also known as multi-color white LEDs, as the colors are mixed to create white light.) The LEDs were manufactured to integrate white and RGB channels in one track, so that there can be different shades of white light and colors. An electronic control system lets the owners and crew dim and otherwise manipulate the lighting. It makes for terrific effects especially at night, with deeper color tones and, more important, without the heat or energy consumption related to incandescent lights.
Also terrific is the tender-garage setup. Benetti provides a Williams diesel jet tender as standard equipment aboard the Delfino 93, complete with a fuel-supply connection to the main tanks. Stowed alongside the tender is a PWC. The Williams boat sits on a trolley launch-and-retrieval system, aided by the fact that the transom folds down. And, when the transom is down, the owners and guests get a virtual beach club, much like those on many larger megayachts these days. Should these toys be outnumbered by the allotment of passengers, there’s another PWC stowed on the foredeck. It can launch to either side of the bow, thanks to a removable davit that the crew can install to port or starboard.
Even with all of the benefits that Ocean Drive has, she does lack something compared to the owners’ Uniesse 72: speed. The latter yacht easily sees 30-plus knots, whereas the Delfino 93 has a reported 14-knot top end, powered by twin MTU 8V 2000 M72s (with three-sided access in the engine room). However, the owners don’t miss going fast, considering most of the time the Uniesse didn’t run at full speed anyway. They also consider that Ocean Drive sees a reported 1,500-nautical-mile range at 10 knots. This makes their visits to eastern Long Island, around New England, down to Florida, among the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and throughout the Caribbean more fuel efficient. And besides, the husband happily zips around in a custom 31-foot Novurania Chase tender to fulfill the occasional need for speed.
See? Yet another way these Benetti owners don’t confuse size with limitations.
This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.