For our latest Wild Water feature, Boat International editor Stewart Campbell gets behind the wheel of the Evo 43, which can transform from a 40-knot speedster to a party platform in seconds.
It’s a day of light airs at the Rolex Capri International Regatta. The fleet is sailing listlessly in the thick Mediterranean heat, race crews hoping for a bit of heel to make those distant marks seem less... well, distant. But I have no such concerns. Beneath me are twin IPS600s and ahead is only flat, unruffled sea. Days like this are made for power — and I’ve got plenty of it on tap.
The boat that’s convinced me to swap sail for speed is the Evo 43, which looks like something Batman might commission upon realising his inheritance doesn’t stretch to a WallyPower 118. It’s even got a party trick of which the Dark Knight would approve: an expanding cockpit that slides out and extends to create a genuine platform on the water. He’d have to lose all that rubber on days like this, though: it’s a hot one and he’s in a bad enough mood already.
My first thought on seeing boats like the Evo 43 is instinctively a negative one: it won’t sell. Too wacky, too extreme, too much to go wrong. But Marina d’Alessandro from Evo’s press office, joining me on board, reveals that the firm has sold five already and are tooling up to produce another 15 in 2017 at its Naples shipyard.
The new brand has clearly tapped into a growing appetite for real innovation in small boat design. Evo didn’t get here first — Wider Yachts really opened the door with its expanding Wider 42 — but the Evo 43 wasn’t all that far behind.
If the brand is new, the brains behind it aren’t. Evo is part of the same family as Blu Martin and Blu Ice yachts, so comes with pedigree in the express cruiser segment. “From the beginning our goal was to build an innovative and different boat,” says Vito Prato, CEO of the parent company, Sea Engineering Group.
“The nautical market is still recovering, but there are still only a few novelties around... so we decided to introduce the Evo 43, a brand new boat that offers space never seen on a 13 metre. We worked hard, we put our hearts and souls into it and we know that it was worth it.”
I can vouch for that: plenty of thought has gone into the Evo 43, with neat touches such as the multi-position sunloungers, modular cockpit seating that can be arranged however you like, and cushions that float. It’s not short on tech, either: the boat comes with a tablet loaded with an app that can control all the ship’s systems and also the expanding wings and fold-out-and-down bathing platform.
The bit I fall most in love with, however, is a simple piece of wood. The helm station is minimal and beautiful – the single length of teak only disturbed by the minimum of instruments.
It’s an excellent vantage point from which to pilot the Evo 43 around Capri’s craggy bluffs and into the lee of a small headland for a demonstration of what is surely this boat’s biggest selling point. It takes about a minute for the wings to each extend 90cm to their full extent.
With the bathing platform out too, suddenly you’ve got an open 25 square metre cockpit on a 13 metre boat. That equates to a 40 per cent uplift in total deck space, which can be achieved by tapping an iPhone — even from the dock.
Down below in the cabin forward is a V-shaped lounge around a table that drops down (by iPad, of course) to form a double berth. Another double is amidships, under the Evo 43’s cockpit sole, but for superyacht owners this is only ever going to be a dayboat, so sleeping takes second place to life on deck, where a 180 litre icebox under the helm seat keeps everyone refreshed.
There’s also a huge sink and a four-burner hob for cooking alfresco. You can option a carbon hardtop to offer a bit of protection and the second Evo 43 is being made with a bimini supported by carbon poles. But this boat, the demonstrator, is completely open and the Factor 50 is starting to sweat off in the steamy weather.
Opening up the throttles produces a pleasing sound — and a blessed breeze. The Evo 43’s engines don’t grunt. It’s more of a highly tuned whirr as they suck in air through big stainless grilles just ahead of the wings.
The biggest engines are installed here, producing 38 knots and a 30-knot cruise, but smaller IPS500s are available, as are a pair of Cummins diesels driving shafts. We’re soon rounding the southwestern corner of Capri and I glance south to see the Rolex fleet still struggling on the horizon. I know where I’d rather be.
First published in the October 2016 edition of Boat International