The Extra Mile
Originally designed as a luxurious cruising yacht, the Extra 86 pivoted when a prospective client made a simple request: more speed.
New yacht customers are scarce enough at the moment, let alone customers of completely new brands. Extra Yachts entered the yachting world with the unveiling of the Extra 76 in 2018. This attracted a lot of attention at the fall boat shows, and was quickly followed up with tempting plans and schematics for a new, larger model: the 86.
This too found favor. Using the same superstructure molding as the 76, the bigger yacht’s additional length was cleverly applied not only to provide a lot more breathing space on an already impressive main deck, especially forward, but also to double the size of the crew accommodations in the bow. On paper, the new project looked promising: a flexible and truly luxurious cruising yacht in a compact package.
A prospective customer duly materialized. He liked what he saw of the sketches and renderings. He liked it a lot. But there was one problem: The 21-knot design speed of the proposed Extra 86 just wasn’t enough. He wanted a faster boat.
Rather than let him get away, the designers and engineers at Extra thought long and hard, then took a deep breath and said yes—they would build him the vessel he wanted, even if that meant creating a completely different version of the boat and making some big changes.
This is perhaps not the sort of risk most yacht builders would feel comfortable taking. But the Extra brand is backed by Palumbo Superyachts, which not only owns the ISA, Mondo and Columbus superyacht yards but is itself a division of the Palumbo Group, which is firmly established in the one maritime sector that everybody needs: commercial vessel refit and ship repair. It owns huge shipyards all over the central Mediterranean. It’s not the sort of company whose existence is threatened by a couple of slow days at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show. So the directors at Extra probably felt confident in explaining their radical rethink of the proposed 86 as more of an investment than a gamble.
Big changes don’t come any bigger than a new hull design, but that is what was required. The 86’s mild-mannered semi-displacement form, designed for modest cruising performance with a pair of 1,000-hp Volvo IPS 1350s, was widened at the stern and given hard chines, a shallow V section aft and broad chine flats for extra lift. Putting in a third engine wasn’t an issue—there was plenty of space, and a triple-IPS installation is hardly a new idea. In fact, the machinery space in the finished yacht has turned out to be something of a minor masterpiece. At the bow, the original hull design’s U-shaped sections were sharpened up to provide a finer, more wave-slicing entry better suited to the additional speed and deserving of the yacht’s new name: the Extra 86 Fast.
Is she fast, then? Well, not especially—although the two-way average we recorded of 26.3 knots is perfectly respectable for an 86-footer, loaded as it was with more than five tons of fuel and water. We were cruising in the Baie de Cannes with fine weather, calm seas and rich Mediterranean blues aloft and aglow. There was a stately air to the Extra’s progress, which like almost everything else about this yacht made it feel bigger than it actually is. But it accelerated keenly enough and responded positively at all speeds, heeling inwards comfortably in hard turns and loping ahead steadily on straightening up. When we came round far enough to meet our own considerable wake, those finely sculpted bow sections carved through it with great confidence, and the slightest impression of an impact.
Throttling back, the most economical fast cruising speed coincided with all the round numbers—2000 rpm, 20 knots and 100 gallons per hour for a safe range of about 375 nautical miles. And with low sound levels, this will be a supremely comfortable way to travel aboard a yacht which is, ultimately, all about comfort.
Because the Extra 86 doesn’t just seem big under way: In harbor or at anchor the accommodation spaces really come into their own. It was designed by Francesco Guida, whose name will be familiar thanks to the success of Arcadia Yachts, another Italian shipyard that specializes in getting quarts out of pint pots. The Extra’s external profile gives it away, and the familiarity of that look extends inside to the generous open spaces of the deck salon, complete with double-glazed ceiling panels and photovoltaic cells. Huge windows, spectacular views and maximizing natural light are signature facets of Guida’s designs. There are also a number of excellent layout features on both decks to give this 86-footer the feel of a much larger boat.
Out on deck, the tapered shape of the wheelhouse opens out and exaggerates the size of the foredeck with its sofa, sunbed and generous expanse of teak underfoot, while three separate levels aft—dining terrace, seating space and sunbathing area—descend towards the water with an elegance born of their deceptive simplicity. The galley is placed almost dead amidships, facing aft, and has the air of a beach bar—an unconventional but very appealing arrangement—while the salon is up on yet another level, completely secluded from prying quayside eyes.
Down below, the master suite is at the widest part of this beamy hull, some 22 feet across, and the VIP’s cleverly offset double berth makes good use of its considerable floor area. Even the beds in the twin-berth guest cabins are a proper size at 6 feet, 6 inches by 2 feet, 7 inches, while generous headroom, 6 feet, 8 inches in the salon, never sinks below 6 feet, 6 inches on the lower deck.
One or two things could probably be improved. The cabinets along the sides of the master are rather tall and manage to make this impressively large cabin seem smaller. The hanging lockers along the forward bulkhead of the VIP produce a similar effect. Their cheap plastic push-catches, meanwhile, strike a slightly jarring note on a $5 million yacht. Up in the salon, the curved sofa along the port side is perhaps a foot or so too long and creates a bottleneck between the helm station and the side door—although in the more formal salon layout offered as an option, this issue wouldn’t arise. Finally, and perhaps less easy to fix, the companionway to the flybridge is awkwardly situated on the starboard side of the galley, right by the day head and the side deck door, which won’t do much for traffic flow at busy times.
Of course, allowances must be made for the first example of any new model. It’s hardly a surprise to find a few missteps in a design which had to be so fundamentally reinvented to fulfill the requirements of the launch customer. By comparison with redesigning the hull and adding another 1,000 hp, sorting out these minor matters will probably be the work of a moment. And after all, this is a company ready to do that little bit extra.
Test Report: Extra 86
Extra 86 Specifications:
Displ (full load): 171,958 lbs.
Fuel: 2,113 gal.
Water: 396 gal.
Power: 3/1,000-hp Volvo IPS 1350
Price: $5.6 million