Changing The Game

To describe the new Bluegame BGX70 as unusual could be to understate the case. Unconventional might be a better word. Perhaps unprecedented. It is certainly unlike any other vessel in its class.

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To understand its unique appeal, you need to go back to the origins of Bluegame, founded in 2004 by Luca Santella, a renowned Olympic yachtsman. He built a one-off sportfisherman for a client in South Africa, and when that proved to be a success, he launched the Bluegame range with a 47 the following year. On relocating to his native Italy, his ideas attracted investment and attention—notably from the Sanlorenzo shipyard, which took the fledgling firm under its wing.

It was a beginning bursting with promise, but it turned out to be a false start. The bottom dropped out of the market in 2008, Sanlorenzo shifted its focus back to its core business and eventually, in 2012, Luca put Bluegame on the back burner.

It gave him time to think. He took a development role at Sanlorenzo and came up with the shipyard’s groundbreaking SX range of explorer yachts—the SX88 and SX76—all the while pondering the future of Bluegame. “The SX concept cannot translate below 70 feet,” he realized, and came up with a unique two-deck solution for a new Bluegame model that caught the eye of Sanlorenzo’s boss. “In 2017 (Sanlorenzo Chairman and CEO) Max Perotti showed a renewed interest, and we started talking about it again,” Luca recalled. They signed a deal in 2019 that cemented the return of the brand as a fully integrated part of the Sanlorenzo organization ­while the BGX70, by now a fully-realized concept, went into production.

Putting Bluegame on hold helped make the BGX70 possible. A yacht of this originality was always going to need a long gestation period. The surprises start as soon as you step on board and find yourself on an uncommonly expansive area of teak that is more like the aft deck of a superyacht than the cockpit of a 70-footer. Beach club or party space, it’s also big enough to take a 13-foot RIB tender, plus toys.

From there you discover a choice of two routes into the interior: up or down. Down, to put it mildly, is counter-intuitive, unless you have previously stumbled aboard a submarine. But on the BGX70, a couple of steps take you from the cockpit into a lower salon, its sole roughly at the waterline. With low-level seating and large side windows, along with the huge sliding aft door, this is a memorable space. Glass sides make a stylish feature of the companionway on the starboard side. And if your first question, like mine, is what’s stopping the sea flooding in, the answer is a concealed scupper across the threshold, as well as a solid panel that can be fitted across the doors, like a removable transom, to safeguard the yacht’s watertight integrity should the weather cut up rough.

Bluegame founder Luca Santella’s successful SX Series explorer yachts for Sanlorenzo were his inspiration for the BGX70.

Bluegame founder Luca Santella’s successful SX Series explorer yachts for Sanlorenzo were his inspiration for the BGX70.

Venture forward from this unexpected relaxation space and you’ll find yourself in the master cabin: a sunny, spacious, full-beam affair, with a well-proportioned head and a neat little desk and dressing table. From here the 70’s accommodation takes on the characteristics of a typical lower deck of a yacht of this caliber, with its mid-cabin on the starboard side, which can be fitted out as a private lounge, plus a comfortable VIP suite forward. This lower-deck layout offers remarkable flexibility, with optional combinations of doors and solid bulkheads making it possible to create a private owner’s suite which can include not only the aft salon but the mid cabin too. A sliding partition transforms the two cabins into one open-plan apartment.

There are two internal companionways, forward and aft, as well as the one going up from the ­cockpit. Head upstairs, and it’s time to recalibrate your preconceptions. Again. The upper deck is a self-contained area with its own cockpit aft, complete with a bench seat and breakfast table. From here, shaded side decks lead forward behind deep, secure bulwarks, while glazed, full-height doors slide open to reveal a bright upper salon with a galley laid out along the starboard side, and a large fixed dining table. Right forward, beneath that raked windshield, sits the helm station, with its view of the bow and the foredeck seating.

The lower salon offers infinite waterline views from over the 

The lower salon offers infinite waterline views from over the 

Just as the BGX70’s lower deck has all the space of a 90-footer’s, with that attractive aft salon where, by rights, the engine room ought to be, the practical, human scale of the upper deck has the feel of the main deck on a 50-footer. Unusual doesn’t begin to cover it. Each deck has its own character. The BGX70 is like two boats in one.

Styled by Studio Zuccon, the interior of our test yacht, the first 70 out of the shipyard, was finished to a high standard. Everything felt solid, with substantial doors, heavy-duty hinges and excellent magnetic catches on the neatly designed locker doors. This sense of quality was matched by the leather trim and joinery. Even the discreet little strap for lifting the bed in the VIP on its substantial gas struts was nicely done. Restful shades of grey and natural veneers coped easily with contrasting areas of dark lacquer. The beds were perhaps on the short side—just 6 feet long in the master cabin and 6 feet, 1 inch in the VIP, to make the best of the available floor space—but no doubt the shipyard could do something about that if you asked.

Two boats or one, the BGX70 is well put together. What makes its uncanny marriage of two disparate decks possible, of course, is the position of the engines. They’re mounted well aft, under the broad, teak expanse of the lower cockpit, on Volvo Penta IPS drives—for even V-drive transmissions would not allow the machinery to sit far enough aft to make such a success of that remarkable lower salon.

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Our test 70 had the powerful, twin 1,000-hp option which gave a top speed of just over 29 knots, with a fairly heavy load—half fuel, a Seakeeper gyro and the yacht’s half-ton of lithium service batteries. It was a calm day off Cannes with barely enough chop to tax the hull’s seakeeping qualities, but from what we could discern of its behavior on the waves we managed to make ourselves, it would offer a comfortable and soft ride in a seaway. We kept the Seakeeper off and Volvo Penta’s excellent automatic trim on, and with its smooth throttles and nicely weighted helm the yacht provided an enjoyable drive.

Like all Bluegame yachts to date, the BGX70’s hull was designed by Lou Codega, with a fine entry, a 16.5-degree deadrise at the transom, down-angled chine flats and chunky parallel spray strakes that wouldn’t look out of place on one of his sportfishing boats. It handled well, with a steady rather than dramatic turning circle, a reassuring angle of heel at full lock and responsive acceleration.

Under way, it is everything you would expect from a vessel with this pedigree. In every other respect, however, it is unusual, unexpected, unconventional, unique, even uncanny. But the key question is whether it works; and that, at least, is undeniable.

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Bluegame BGX70 Test Report

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Video produced by John V. Turner

Bluegame BGX70 Specifications:

LOA: 71'7"
Beam: 18'3"
Draft: 5'3"
Displ. (light): 88,183 lbs.
Fuel: 1,109 gal.
Water: 264 gal.
Power (as tested): 2/1,000-hp Volvo Penta D13-IPS1350
Price: $3.45 million

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This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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