The first Pershing 140 has all the power and speed you’d expect encased in the brand’s trademark aggressive lines – but step inside and you’ll be surprised, says Clare Mahon
With their distinctive, sporty exterior lines designed by Fulvio De Simoni, spotting a Pershing on the water is as easy as naming your favourite tune after the first few notes. “Pershing boats have never been classic or conservative, that’s not their target,” De Simoni says. “They are fast and aggressive and are created for people who want to stand out from the crowd in what they do and what they own. I wanted the Pershing 140 to be recognisable head-on. That’s why I added the ‘face’ to the bow. Like a vintage car’s radiator grille, this is an element that distinguishes the 140 and makes it recognisable even from an angle where most boats look the same.”
You can certainly tell at a glance that Pershing’s flagship, and the brand’s first build in aluminium alloy, is a seriously fast-moving, catch-me-if-you-can yacht that cages raw power in that distinctive profile. But the first hull, Chorusline, was built for an owner from the Far East who enjoys family time and belting out a tune with friends, as much as he does a pacey ride – so his yacht combines its classic Pershing looks with custom interiors that are not the same old song and dance.
Giordano Pellacani, sales and marketing director for custom projects at Ferretti Group, explains the vision that lies behind the creation of Pershing’s new flagship: “We designed the 140 after doing research on what Pershing owners’ needs are. They want to move fast but they also want the comforts that they have at home. They want an innovative, technological yacht that can get them from Miami to the Bahamas in a fast commute, for example, or from Monte Carlo to Corsica. They don’t have much leisure time and use their boats for long weekends more than for extended cruises. But they are also people who dream big, who want a yacht that expresses their style and personality, where they can live life on their own terms.”
“That’s why customisation is important,” adds Nada Serafini, Pershing’s head of sales. “Pershing has a recognisable style, but with the skill set that we can offer at the Ferretti Group’s superyacht yard in Ancona, owners can add their own personal touches to tailor the yacht to their lifestyle.”
Edwin Ho, of Starship Yachts, Ferretti Group’s official broker for Hong Kong, has been working with Chorusline’s owner for nine years and seven boats and knows a thing or two about his lifestyle. “We started in 2010 with a Baia 100 that had a Mas 28 as its chase boat. Then it was on to an AB 116 then a Riva 86' Domino that had a Rivamare as chase boat. Then we bought the Riva 100' hull No 1…” and here Ho trails off, touching his chin and looking out a window. “Well, I can’t even remember them all,” he says, admitting defeat with a laugh. “When I established Starship Yachts almost 30 years ago, I wanted to offer my clients something more than just my services as a dealer and owner’s rep. So when the owner wanted to customise the interior of his Pershing 140 I suggested a person whose taste I know and trust – my wife.”
Edith Ho opened the Gallery des Artistes in Kuala Lumpur after she met Edwin and moved to the Far East. She had already worked with her husband and this owner by providing the artwork that was an important part of his Riva 100’s decor. But her new commission went far beyond finishing touches: on the Pershing 140 she was responsible for the entire interior. The owner suggested a “happy family” theme, but beyond that his involvement was severely limited by an intense work schedule. “He gave me carte blanche for the rest and that was that,” she recalls.
Many designers would find working for a hands-off owner a dream job, but Edith didn’t know where to begin. “I’m a gallerist, not a decorator, and beyond the theme for the art I didn’t have input from the owner. I didn’t know his taste or style. I started reading boating magazines, trying to get an edge on the process but it was all a bit scary. I knew Edwin was going to be speaking with the owner so I asked him to check and see what his favourite colour was; at least I would have that to work with.” Edwin texted and the answer came back: “No time.”
Edith interpreted “no time” to be a relaxing shade of blue and began to plan her interior around that. “I was thinking of it as an evolution, like a puzzle, one piece leading to another and the whole thing gradually coming together,” she says of the project. Her visits to Pershing to discuss materials and build mood boards with Costanza Pazzi, Ferretti Group’s project architect, were a time to share ideas and work over differing points of view. “I am French, so I wanted French pieces for the loose furniture, but at times it was almost a battle of the Alps with the shipyard,” she says with a laugh. “They kept proposing Minotti, Flexform and B&B Italia; I kept coming back with French furniture makers.”
Pazzi looks back at the collaboration fondly. “Working with Edith was easy because she is talented in many areas, open minded and very organised. She was open to taking advice and always took our considerations into account. We had an excellent time working together.”
In the end Edith chose a semicircular Roche Bobois sectional sofa for the main saloon and ordered it in blue velvet. “I wanted art that blends into the interior design. It’s a trend in the Asia-Pacific region now, so after choosing the couches I sourced and commissioned paintings from artists Julien Calot, Laeti de Flo and Marie Kvasnik and began designing custom carpets with Serge Lesage,” she says. All colours were themed around Edith’s “no time” blue.
While she has enough experience with lifestyle in the Far East to know what an owner from there might like, Edith was still in for some surprises. “I knew that sunbeds and lounge chairs are not what a Chinese owner wants; shaded dining areas with proper seating were more the thing. I was pretty confident about my choices until I had a panic moment.”
That came one evening when Edith was at home in Kuala Lumpur experimenting with wool samples that Lesage had sent. “Designing the carpets was the most amazing thing: you chose your pattern, you chose your size and shape and then you chose your colours.” Then the phone rang. “It was Edwin saying that he had just met with the owner and mentioned the blue velvet couches. He said he would never sit on anything blue, it was somehow bad luck in Chinese culture,” she says remembering her crisis. “But the interior was all themed around that colour.”
A quick series of phone calls to Roche Bobois, the artists and the carpet maker, and the yacht’s interiors took a turn towards neutrals and greens. Blues are reserved mainly for removable elements such as cushions. “Luckily Julien Calot is a surfer so he can really interpret greens and aqua colours,” Edith says, referring to the artist responsible for the work that’s the centrepiece of the main saloon.
Another one of Edith’s choices made the yacht greener figuratively. Rather than marble and stone surfaces, which she found cold, “I opted for Pierre Frey wallpapers, some that look like silk, some that have a silvery wood grain look. The engineer told me that I had taken six tonnes off the yacht’s weight,” she says, which obviously had performance benefits.
Perceived coldness is also why Edith put a large painting instead of a television in the main saloon and backed the bar off the lobby with a panel in acrylic, flecked with gold and silver leaf, choosing to keep all bottles stashed out of sight in the pantry. “Costanza [Pazzi] sourced it and I agreed immediately, first because it’s beautiful and second because it’s made in France,” says Edith.
But it’s with the bar fore of the lobby that Chorusline’s interiors start to travel to the beat of a different drum, more of a Chinese tanggu than a bass or snare. “Aboard this yacht we repeated the same layout that the owner had wanted for his previous Riva 100': since he loves music and cinema and, up until now, hasn’t wanted to use his yachts overnight, we used the fore spaces for entertainment,” says Edwin. In fact, the area that’s usually reserved for the owner’s cabin is a formal dining room with seating for 12, but the surprises are only just beginning.
Five steps down from the dining space, Chorusline offers a whole new way to sing in the shower: “We designated the space that the shipyard had envisioned as a full-beam owner’s bathroom as a multimedia room,” says Edwin. But what exactly is a multimedia room? “Well, in mainland China it would be a KTV.” But what does one do in a KTV? “Sing! KTV, you know, karaoke. But the owner upgrades his yachts frequently and we wanted Chorusline to keep her resale value so it has all the plumbing hook-ups you need to convert it to a bathroom,” says Edwin. In other words, Chorusline is the yacht where you can sing in the shower that isn’t there.
Looking at an owner’s bath from a karaoke point of view opens a new set of possibilities. In its Chorusline incarnation it’s an intimate space made even cosier by a floor in rustic grey oak. The curved wall forward is perfect for a long, C-shaped leatherette sofa while the straight wall aft could have been made to measure for the monster 88in Sony flat-screen mounted there. A peek into the starboard storage unit reveals equipment by Yamaha, SilverStone, Deoworks and Shure whirring away, while its port-side twin is a more mundane, but still useful, dayhead. Honestly, why brush your teeth in front of a double sink when you can party with your friends and family in a space like this?
Edith continued her theme of watercolours in the details and artworks that add personality to the guest accommodation on the lower deck. Here, the VIP cabin has become the owner’s and touches such as Pullman berths in the twin cabins and a trundle bed under the double bed in what is now the VIP hint at the owner’s desire to take longer trips on this yacht. “With a top speed of about 38 knots and the low draught, he can make a run out to any number of the 300 islands that lie off Hong Kong,” says Edwin. And with three gyroscopic Seakeeper 35 stabilisers installed, even a chorus line of Rockettes kicking up a Broadway storm could not rock this boat.
While the owner personally requested that Ronan Keating’s Life is a Rollercoaster be played at Chorusline’s launch, at press time he had yet to see his new yacht. “He has been too busy with work to come to Europe, but his brother had an excellent time when he cruised around Saint-Tropez and Monte Carlo shortly after the launch,” says Edwin. “He loved the stability and the extra sound insulation. And they were the stars everywhere they went because the yacht was drawing crowds of people who wanted to admire the new Pershing.”
Edith enjoyed the challenge of designing the interiors so much that she has opened a new business, MyArtYachts, to cater for new projects that will combine her knowledge of art with her talent for designing interiors. But the couple still have some reserves, as Edwin says. “What I’m worried about is when the yacht is delivered to Hong Kong and the owner loves it but then turns to me and says, ‘Edwin, what next?’ Because getting better than this won’t be easy.”