Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

01_Ferretti 720

The Ferretti 720 may have the opulent appointments the brand is known for, but firewall the throttle and you’ll find it’s also a beast.

When I was too small to see over the steering wheel, my dad bought a 1956 Mercedes 220. It was at least second- or third-hand, and it wasn’t a classic, just old. It had a dark walnut fascia, varnish blistered by the sun. The speedo cable must have been pretty frayed because the needle would oscillate between 10 and 90 mph regardless of what speed you were actually doing. But it was a Mercedes, with cream paint and blue leather. My dad never imagined we’d own one.

I’m reminded of that old car whenever I step aboard a Ferretti. It’s not the look, obviously, or the color scheme or even the upholstery, but the resilience of the marque, something shared by the shipyard. Even a new model like the Ferretti 720, unveiled last fall with exterior styling by Filippo Salvetti—only his second project for the shipyard—still bears the strong design continuity of the Ferretti family.

It’s a continual challenge to innovate while safeguarding a brand’s identity. Done well, the DNA can be traced down the decades, whether from the new 720 to its predecessors, or from a modern Benz to my dad’s old 220. But Ferretti seems to enjoy the challenge. The shipyard’s aesthetic has proved resilient.

So while essentially conservative, the 720’s styling gives a new edge to familiar shapes and classic proportions, updating the yacht’s look without alienating too many Ferretti devotees. There are fewer curves and more straight lines. Bold, black angles hint at performance, and also disguise the yacht’s size. But not too much. There are many reasons to buy a Ferretti, but having people think you can’t afford a big boat is not one of them.

There are other innovations evident on this all-new 720. The flybridge lay-up is made with carbon to help lower the center of gravity. The fiberglass lamination is resin-infused. The optional hardtop comes in three different configurations, with a fixed-glass sunroof panel, a built-in bimini section or slats.

02_Ferretti 720

There are also changes that suggest Ferretti is not trying to stand out from the crowd so much as merge a little more with the mainstream—perhaps because in an increasingly global market, anything too quirky might be construed as risky. Glass doors that open across the full width of the cockpit are not exactly a new idea, even within the Ferretti Group, but this is their first appearance on board a Ferretti. The foredeck fit-out is also more in line with current fashion, with its versatile seating, convertible table and carbon poles for rigging an awning, while the fold-down transom seat reflects the modern trend for maximizing external spaces. Another change is the master head, which is no longer set on one side, offering a spectacular view through the hull windows while you’re brushing your teeth, but its instead placed across the aft bulkhead along with the walk-in wardrobe, spanning the full beam of the hull.

The rest of the accommodations below are laid out on conventional lines, and they are very comfortable. Size and space have always been elements of Ferretti’s brand resilience. Along with the palatial master suite amidships, the twin cabins on either side of the corridor share the head to starboard, while the rather modestly proportioned VIP suite sits up in the bow. Berths are all a proper length, even in the guest twins, and headroom is notably generous at 6 feet, 7 inches throughout both decks. A two-berth crew’s quarters is squeezed into the stern, aft of the engine room.

03a_Ferretti-720-interior
03b_Ferretti-720-interior

One of the biggest challenges designers face is creating an appealing selection of standard options without diluting the essence of the brand. Ferretti’s in-house studio offered two interior designs for the 720. Our test boat had the lighter of the two schemes, with pale surfaces, walnut veneers, dark lacquer features and a theme of textured stripes on the bulkheads to add a subtle visual depth. Leather is also used extensively—on drawer fronts, headboards and even bulkheads—which adds an extra level of luxury so understated as to be almost imperceptible. Such essential quality is all part of that resilient Ferretti aesthetic.

The main deck is zoned into dining, seating and working areas, with a small galley on the port side by the helm and a door leading out to the side deck. The big glass doors aft open out into the cockpit, where an extra sofa or a bar can be added. Wide side decks lead to the forward furnishings. Up on the flybridge, which extends almost half the yacht’s length, there is plenty of space aft for an optional crane and tender cradle—the builder suggests a 10-foot, 6-inch ­Williams 325. The hydraulic swim platform can support a 13-foot RIB or three-seat watercraft.

Two engine options are available, both from MAN. The standard offering is a pair of 1200-hp V8s, which Ferretti says should hit 28 knots. Our 720, the first off the line, was fitted with the 1400-hp V12s. Extra cylinders make these motors not just significantly heavier but also a good 18 inches longer than the V8s, but the 720’s engine room had clearly been designed from the outset to accommodate them. Access all around was excellent, headroom was reasonable and the engines sat in what looked like considerable comfort, mounted horizontally on down-angle transmissions. The resilience of the Ferretti brand has always been expressed in engineering as much as ­aesthetics. Servicing should be pretty straightforward.

04a_Ferretti-720-exterior
04b_Ferretti-720-exterior

Of course, it’s the extra horsepower that really counts. Our test boat would have shown a clean pair of heels to a standard 720, clocking exactly 32 knots in a two-way speed trial on the tranquil waters of the Bay of Cannes. With their moderate hull sections and carefully calculated weight distribution, all of the recent flybridge ­models from Ferretti are well-mannered wolves in sheep’s clothing. And the new 720 is no exception: Its conservative looks might suggest solidity and comfort, but they don’t prepare you for a yacht that is also possessed of a surprising turn of speed, married to precise handling and bags of torque, all of which provide a fun driving experience. The Xenta electro-hydraulic steering has just the right amount of feel.

With the Humphree trim set on ‘auto’ and the optional Seakeepers off, the yacht felt planted and supremely competent at all rev settings, with an immediacy to the throttle response that belied its size and displacement. The sweet spot for passagemaking would be in the low 20s, where modest noise levels combine with a 300-mile range. Shorter trips of an hour or two could be polished off at 28 or even 30 knots, and neither you nor the boat will break a sweat.

prm1_Ferretti 720

Which pretty much jives with my memories of that old ­Mercedes—quiet and refined, it took us on some great trips. It even had a radio. Of course it had its challenges, too. There was that time I cracked the windshield with my head, when my dad braked sharply one morning and I came flying over from the back seat. My school friends didn’t believe me until I showed them the crack. I suppose my head proved pretty resilient, even if the windshield didn’t.

Ferretti 720 Test Report

Ferretti 720-test-numbers

Ferretti 720 Specifications:

LOA: 73'
Beam: 18'4"
Draft: 5'11"
Displ. (light): 119,050 lbs.
Fuel: 1,215 gal.
Water: 264 gal.
Power: 2/1,400-hp MAN V12

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

Related