Ferretti 870By Alan Harper
Let Ferretti’s new 870 run and this contemporarily built, old-school yacht will take you all the way to Corsica at 31 knots.
The Cannes boat show brings the boating world together: Here we were in France, testing an Italian motoryacht, with the owner onboard—a Dane—content to merge into the background and watch us work. So, no pressure then. And he proved an affable host, and expressed polite interest in all our arcane sea-trial procedures. He was experienced, too, with a 38-footer back home for use in high season. He explained that he liked to cruise the Mediterranean during the spring and fall. He’d owned plenty of yachts before the present one, from countries as diverse as Sweden and Taiwan, but the Ferretti 870, he said, was excellent. He keeps her in Antibes. He’d taken delivery from the shipyard’s Adriatic base in the summer, and, by way of a shakedown cruise, spent three weeks with his family exploring the fabulous coastline of Croatia.
Our owner might not have realized it, but he was absolutely Ferretti’s target customer for the 870, a vessel that represents a return to the company’s core values. “Yachts like this are very important to the business,” said group engineering boss Andrea Frabetti, before comparing the 870, with maybe just a trace of false modesty, to a Mercedes E-class. “It’s midrange, traditional,” he explained, pointing to the Ferretti 800 in the next berth to illustrate the point. With a futuristic, open-plan galley and breakfast bar, a showpiece owner’s head, and wide-open main-deck layout, the smaller 800 was clearly intended to appeal to a younger owner, perhaps as his first boat. The 870, by contrast, was obviously aimed at people much harder to impress: experienced yachtsmen.
The contrast between the two concepts could not be more clear. The 800’s galley and breakfast bar, down on the lower deck but open to the giant windscreen overhead, comprise a spectacular piece of interior design. The owner’s suite, too, places almost as much emphasis on the plumbing facilities as it does on sleeping and changing, with an enormous head and shower compartment complete with a giant hull window that you can only actually enjoy while shaving or brushing your teeth.
On the 870 though, the owner can lie in an enormous bed and enjoy both the sunset and the sunrise. Moreover, the head stretches across the aft bulkhead—a little less Architectural Digest than the 800’s maybe—but along with the walk-in wardrobe it provides useful extra sound insulation between the accommodations and the engine room. Meanwhile, up on the 870’s main deck, the large galley is enclosed, and the wheelhouse is separate. This makes for a much more formal arrangement than on the 800, and is a clear indication of how this yacht is intended to be used. The portside door is the key to it all—it gives the crew access to the wheelhouse, galley, and weather deck without going through any of the guest areas, so that while the crew runs the yacht, the guests are undisturbed.
Although formal and traditional in concept, in execution the Ferretti 870 is every inch the modern Italian motoryacht, whether in terms of design, detailing, or workmanship. The exterior ‘gills’ are a distinctive stylistic feature of all the latest Ferrettis, and the cutaway gunwale is a cool idea that ensures the view from the dining table is as deep and wide as the windows. The interior is high in contrast, low in gimmicks, and effortlessly chic. Think walnut-stained oak with stainless steel highlights and leather details. And with homage to that universal truth—the ultimate luxury onboard any boat is space—it’s big. Ferretti’s characteristically rectilinear layouts in all areas help to maximize floor space, while headroom throughout the guest areas is 6 feet 6 inches or more. Particular thought has been given to stowage space, in both hanging lockers and drawers, while all the beds are sized according to what you’d expect at home—except the berth in the master, which is 6 feet across and nearly 7 feet long.
Our 870—the first, by the way—featured extra designer items brought in by the owner for the saloon: two “oyster” leather sofas from Poltrona Frau, a Liko coffee table from Desalto, and gray woolen carpet from GT Design, a touch that complements the OmniDecor dining table and its eight Calligaris steel and leather chairs. Lighting throughout is by Cantalupi.
Down below, the master lies amidships, as you would expect, and features a desk/dressing table to port and a chaise longue on the starboard side. The latter is surmounted by a sliding table, which looks neat at first but might actually get in the way after a while. Unusually, there are two other generously proportioned staterooms, more or less equal in area, which could each vie for the title of VIP. The one to port has a double berth that can quickly be divided to form two singles, while the one forward occupies the bow with a conventional island double. In terms of floor space, stowage, and bathrooms, there is very little difference between the two suites, but when it comes to windows, the forward one has a definite edge. Over to starboard, there’s a twin-berth guest cabin that’s noticeably smaller than the other three staterooms but still nicely laid out and comfortable, with plenty of headroom, and lots of daylight thanks to a hull window.
Out on deck the 870 feels, if anything, even more spacious. The cockpit in particular is huge—bigger than the saloon, and has its own bar. There are two routes up to the flying bridge—the skeletal interior companionway is practically invisible by comparison with the cockpit access—and even with a tender stowed across its aft end there is enough room up here for some serious socializing. The hardtop is an expensive extra but a worthwhile one, and the side decks leading to the forward seating and sunbathing areas are wide, safe, and secure.
Crew accommodation and the engine room are reached via a companionway on the port side of the cockpit. The former area offers a single and a twin-bunk cabin, a small dinette and head, and space for a washer and dryer. It’s all comfortable enough, but not as impressive as the engine room, which in characteristic Ferretti style is large, square, spacious, and beautifully executed.
The weather at the Cannes show was unsettled. We had the usual balmy Mediterranean sunshine most of the time, but then a full gale came barrelling through one night that had exhibitors in the packed Vieux Port anxiously watching their mooring ropes. By the time we took the 870 to sea the following evening, the wind had dropped to Force 3 and the only remnant of the boisterous blow was a 3- to 4-foot chop in the bay.
We managed to tempt some spray aboard while shouldering through, but on all other points of sail—dead ahead, on the quarter, beam-on, or dead astern—the 870 was as good as gold. She is a heavy craft, but also very powerful, especially as we had the larger of the two engine options installed, a pair of 1,947-horsepower MTUs. Thanks to a ZF SteerCommand system, which had allowed the shipyard to precisely tweak the movement of our two independently actuated rudders for optimized handling, I noticed the hull remained flat through some rather tight turns—a sign, according to the Ferretti engineers, that the outer rudder was not producing too much lift.
A top speed of 31.1 knots is impressive for such a substantial vessel, especially considering the heavy fuel load we had onboard, not to mention the flash mob that came along as crew, a standard feature of testing during a boat show. It was certainly a sociable sea trial, and all the more so for having the yacht’s clearly proud owner joining us.
With trials done and numbers noted, we found ourselves swapping stories, while the 870, as if on some sort of instinctive autopilot, seemed eminently happy heading in the general direction of Corsica—at 25 knots, heedless of the seas, and with all the panache and assurance of a supremely competent cruising yacht. Which, as her owner already knew, is exactly what she is.
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This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.