One of Europe’s oldest luxury yacht builders, Benetti’s varied portfolio includes semi-custom and custom luxury yachts and superyachts constructed in FRP, aluminium and steel. As a member of the Azimut|Benetti Group, Benetti is a world leader in terms of the total length and units of yachts over 37 metres it has in its order book at any given time.
History of Benetti
In 1873, Lorenzo Benetti founded the shipyard near the shipbuilding centre of Viareggio, Italy. After Lorenzo’s death in 1927, it passed to his sons, Gino and Emilio, who renamed the shipyard Fratelli Benetti, or Brothers Benetti, and their four sons soon joined the family business. The primary focus was on building commercial sailing vessels and navy ships until the 1950s when the company split the business between commercial and leisure vessels. The leisure yacht business, led by great-grandson Lorenzo, took off in the 1960s when Fratelli Benetti began to design and construct yachts in steel with wood-panelled luxury interiors called the Delfino model.
The Tirreno and Mediterraneo models followed, the latter lifting Benetti beyond the 30-metre mark. By 1980, Benetti had become the world’s most active builder of yachts of 24 metres or more, receiving worldwide attention for delivering the staggeringly large for its time Nabila (now Kingdom 5KR) to Adnan Khashoggi in 1979 at a steep loss. The ruthless contract for this project eventually forced the yard into bankruptcy in 1984.
The Turin-based fibreglass boatbuilding company Azimut was the successful bidder for the Benetti assets the following year. Azimut’s owner, Paolo Vitelli, provided the historic company with the technical and financial support to expand its operations. Today, Benetti operates two shipyards, located in Viareggio and Livorno, Italy. Originally concentrating on metal boats in the 40 to 50 metre range, Benetti branched out to include several models of composite displacement motor yachts to fill the gap between large Azimuts and small Benettis, as well as develop much larger yachts in steel and aluminium. In 2020, the builder delivered three yachts of more than 100 metres. The Azimut|Benetti Group is the world’s largest superyacht builder by total length of yachts under construction in BOAT International’s Global Order Book and has been since 1999. It remains a family-owned company with Vitelli’s daughter, Giovanna, acting as Group Vice-President
The company’s fleet counts five categories: CLASS, B.YOND, OASIS, B.NOW, CUSTOM. In the CLASS category, there are two composite displacement models: Motopanfilo 37M and Diamond 44M. Motopanfilo 37M draws inspiration from the past and projects it into the future. Powerfully inspired by the nautical tradition of the 60s, with modern technical and stylistic solutions, Motopanfilo 37M has a modern twist where artful use of mirrors expands the perception of interior space and amplifies the sea views. Loro Piana Interiors has fitted out the interiors and part of the exteriors. Diamond 44M is the fibreglass flagship of the Benetti Class category, with a perfect balance between harmonious exterior proportions and outdoor spaces. It boasts a 102 sqm Sun Deck - the largest on the market for this size - and a sophisticated ventilation system, which ensures fresh and clean air throughout the yacht.
B.Yond 37M is a yacht with steel hull and aluminium superstructure that promises reduced environmental impact for improved comfort during navigation with the hybrid propulsion E-Mode system developed by Siemens for the shipyard. Oasis Deck®, developed by Benetti and British firm RWD back in 2019 is based on a mix of five exclusive characteristics: the opening wings that extend the deck close to the water but safe from the waves, a magnificent pool integrated in a flush deck, an unobstructed 270-degree view, a mixture of sun and shade and a social design that weaves the entire deck into a vast convivial OASIS. This new solution is dedicated to all the yacht owners who want to spend quality time on board, in constant contact with the surrounding environment. The new solution is offered by the shipyard on Oasis 34M, Oasis 40M and on the B.Now category. The four models in the B.NOW category, 50M, 58M, 66M and 72 M, are all, in fact, also offered with the Oasis Deck® solution and are once again the joint efforts by the shipyard and RWD. The B.NOW models are suited to people who love the life at sea in a casual and contemporary atmosphere, without sacrificing comfort and privacy. Finally, the CUSTOM category features yachts from 48 to over 100 meters in length, tailor made to the owner’s desires.
The Group has extensive in-house design and styling services and also owns the Lusben yard for repair and refits.
Notable Benetti Yachts
Mention Benetti and the first name that comes to mind is Nabila built for Saudi Arabian billionaire Adnan Kashoggi in 1980. At 85.65 metres, Nabila was the largest superyacht in the world at the time, featuring an exterior design by Jon Bannenburg. The yacht’s fame grew with her role in the James Bond film “Never Say Never Again”, as the Disco Volante. The yacht next belonged to Donald Trump, who named her Trump Princess. Her name since 1991 is Kingdom 5KR and she is owned by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia.
The first post-Fratelli Benetti was 45-metre Rima (now Ego) designed by Terence Disdale in 1987, followed by Sea Sedan (now Tumberry C), Shamwari (now Mistress), Joalmi and Sahab III. Although it would build any custom contract, Benetti updated its own semi-custom line with the award-winning, full-displacement 50-metre Golden Bay series in 1995. This series was optimized for charter and introduced many people to the Italian brand. The last one launched was Jo in 2004.
The seven-deck, 70-metre Freedom (ex-Reverie) was launched in 2000 and at the time of her build was the largest Benetti by volume at 1,979GT
Serial superyacht owner John Staluppi has built two custom Benettis, the 60.95m Diamonds Are Forever launched in 2011 and the World Superyacht Award winner 69.3m Spectre in 2019. He also owned a 2001 Benetti he named Quantum of Solace (now Elysium).
In 2015 Sir Philip Green took delivery of his third Benetti, the 90m Lionheart, which was the longest Benetti to date. His wife’s design studio Green & Mingarelli, designed the lavish interior.
The champ among Benetti’s repeat owners is the Chinese owner of a string of Ambrosias, Ambrous Young. The latest one, Ambrosia III, which he refitted in 2017 is a 65m launched in 2006. This yacht is notable for being equipped with the radical for its time Azipod propulsion system.
Specialisations of Benetti
Benetti offers a wide range of new luxury yachts, including wholly custom superyachts and semi-custom full- and fast-displacement series motor yachts.
The current Benetti semi-custom “Class” lines include the following composite models: Delfino 95, Mediterraneo 116, Motopanfilo 37M, Fast 125 and Diamond 145.; the explorer offering B.Yond 37M, the Oasis 40M(new in 2020 with Hull #1 Rebecca), and the B.Now series the builder starts on spec at 50M, 55M, 63M and 68M. Full custom yachts, which are still designated with the letters FB in front of their hull numbers, typically begin at 45 metres.
The shipyard also provides service and technical support to its customers worldwide and operates its own repair and refit yard called Lusben and has recently branched into marina ownership.