The newest superyacht from CRN is a carnival of vivid colours, bright spaces and flamboyant details. Elaine Bunting takes a tour of Rio...
Every build reaches a point when the vessel finally comes alive. It’s not when the design is finalised or the plates of steel are cut. It’s not even when the engines are run up or the shafts start to turn for the first time. It comes with a blitz of tasks, as curtains are fitted or artworks hung, racing to the hot pulse of an imminent deadline. Swiftly, it is a yacht impatient to be peopled and set free.
Rio is unique because she has been born twice. The new 62 metre steel and aluminium yacht built by CRN in Italy’s Ancona had been due to launch in 2021. She was nearing completion despite the challenges of a shipyard shutdown and the global supply crunch when the almost unthinkable happened – the owner pulled out. Then she was resold, speedily reimagined and born again this spring for a very different life.
“She is a yacht that is not only unique, but interesting in many ways,” says David Westwood of broker TWW Yachts. The company had a long-standing charter client who wanted to purchase their own boat of between 60 and 65 metres. Two other projects in Italy were scouted, “but they just didn’t have that flair they were looking for”, Westwood says. They wanted a yacht that would be fun for a young family.
CRN’s project was a good match. The hull shape itself appealed: the external profile drawn by Frank Laupman’s team at Omega Architects is thoroughly contemporary, shaped by a plumb bow, squared transom, cut-away bulwarks and fashion plates that sweep aft and elongate like the shape of a sports coupé.
Her genesis is in a concept Omega designed for CRN as the Oceansport but Rio is full custom. The first owner pushed the Dutch design firm for a long foredeck, which he originally intended to use for private outdoor dining and makes room for a good-sized garage. “She has a clear posture and strong horizontal lines with a lot of detailing to make her interesting,” Laupman says. “We did a lot of details on it. [For instance], there is an interesting intrusion in the bulwark [on the owner’s deck] to give the owner more visibility. And to enhance her lines, we created arches that embrace the protected aft deck and create a bit of shade, but you can peek under them.”
Onboard spaces are bright and modern, and very light inside and out, with large windows and lots of full-height glass. The deck space opens out to vistas from all three decks. Besides these attributes, the yacht offers accommodation for 12 guests in six well-proportioned cabins, two of them full-beam, plus a gym, beach club and a private owner’s deck with a forward suite enjoying sea views. “A full owner’s deck is quite unusual on a 62 metre,” comments Westwood. “Generally it’s on split levels or sub-divided. The owners wanted a light, bright and open-plan vessel, and Rio ticked all the boxes.”
The new owners signed the contract last year, ending the yacht’s brief spell as an orphan and creating a new identity. The yacht was named Rio, and the challenge was immediately set to reimagine the vessel for family holidays and imbue it with a vibe, energy and colours evocative of the Amazon. So a complete metamorphosis of the interior was called for. The original owner had commissioned Alessandro Pulina of Pulina Exclusive Interiors to develop a mainly off-white interior as a neutral backdrop for an art collection. The new style was to be radically different and was undertaken hand-in-hand with CRN. The transformation was a huge project that had to be delivered at breakneck speed without any compromise on quality.
Pulina worked with the new owners on a palette of vivid colours that would define each area and cabin in the yacht. On the main deck, matt white lacquered furniture and wall panelling are brought alive by bright turquoise frames and furnishing in blues and pinks. The contrasting floor is in matt-finished American walnut.
“Customised lighting and recessed black lacquered wood are used to define different areas by adjusting the intensity of different zones,” explains Gabriele Piacenti, CRN’s senior project architect.
At the centre of the main saloon, a custom-made circular table with concentric oak veneers made by Poltrona Frau can seat 12. It is matched with a set of shell-shaped chairs with legs in black-stained ash and upholstered with saddle leather.
One striking feature is the marble front and tops on the bar area, set with deep tropical blue Azul Macaubas marble from Brazil. The slabs were picked out specially by Piacenti because he liked the way its rippling pattern resembles waves and the patterns on a beach when the tide has receded. “It’s a very precious marble; there are not many slabs left, but we found one close to us in Tuscany that had no impurities. When I saw it, I rang the yard immediately and said we had to have it.”
Sofas and pouffes on the main deck aft terrace are by Paola Lenti, made with woven rope in colours of light blue, white and bright pink. They are clustered round hand-painted tables in Etna lava stone.
Themes of bright, summery colours continue in the owner’s cabin on the owner’s deck and the five additional guest cabins, four on the lower deck and one on the main deck. Each has an individual colour scheme: pastel green, red/brown, green/blue. There are two large full-beam VIP cabins with king-size beds and bathrooms finished with warm Crema d’Orcia and Calacatta Vagli Oro marbles. The original layout had an additional cabin, but the new owners decided to convert one of these guest cabins to a gym.
A beach club was also created at the aft end of the lower deck. “This area changed a lot,” says CRN project manager Marco Delpini. “The original owner wanted the transom beach club to be fitted out as a music room where a band could gather for jamming sessions. We decided to create a more conventional spa with a hammam. We’ve also got a toy rack for stand-up paddleboards and flyboards and the crew will be able to pitch watersports to the kids.”
Rio’s arsenal of power craft and tenders, meanwhile, lives in a garage at the forward end of the main deck, where they can be stored out of sight and lifted on two launching cranes via two shell doors on the port and starboard sides. The garage contains an eight-metre Pascoe Beachlander, two jet skis and a rescue tender. A 14–metre Sacs Rebel 47 tender is also part of the fleet and follows along.
The owners’ domain spans the entire upper deck. It can be reserved completely for private use or the upper saloon can be opened to guests. All decks are accessed by a lift, and the upper deck is also connected by stairs that wind round and are flanked by bleached oak and leather panels.
The wall panels themselves are a labour of love. Stitched leather in a pale cream colour is installed in a fanned fashion to allow LED lighting behind it, creating an interesting 3D effect. The joinery throughout the boat, including the intricately slatted and white-lacquered okoume found in every cabin, was all done by Zago, the in-house carpentry company (which, like CRN, is part of the Ferretti Group).
As you reach the owner’s deck lobby, you are greeted by a large panel hand-painted by an Italian artist. It sets out the manifesto of the yacht’s interior, depicting the Amazonian rainforest and three special motifs: a toucan, a blue butterfly and a jaguar. From the owner’s deck there are continuous sea views all around. The owner’s cabin itself looks outwards across the foredeck and bow, and its colours echo the blue and white of the sea and sky. The furniture is topped in blue leather, also known as “a sugar box blue”, Piacenti explains, “with panels all hand-stitched”.
The owner’s bathroom and dressing room are exceptional, with spectacular views on the port side. You enter via a walk-in dressing room. At the centre is a glass-walled shower and bathtub with views out to sea through a large picture window. When the doors of the dressing room are open, you can look out from both sides of the yacht.
A door from the owner’s suite leads out onto a private open-air lounge and spa pool, a new addition, that are out of sight from the wheelhouse on the bridge deck above. The foredeck is a large expanse of 120 square metres yet the details speak loudest about the design and the build quality achieved by CRN. Inspect it more closely and you see that the bulwarks dip towards the bow while the carbon stanchions and black Spectra guard ropes above them vary in height to maintain the horizontal line. The teak decking is laid diagonally on the foredeck, joggled perfectly together without a central king plank.
To keep the view forward clean and unobstructed, the forward mast for the navigation lights can be retracted telescopically below the deck, and the mooring and side loading area for tenders is reached directly from the crew quarters below on the lower deck.
While the interior was rapidly being recreated, the boat’s machinery and systems were completed. CRN has a 50-strong in-house design and engineering team. “We have a very advanced engineering department, and the technical areas are the first to be designed – they are the heart of the boat,” says Delpini. “From the cutting of the first plate, it took a year until the complete installation of the machinery.”
The powerhouse of Rio comprises two Caterpillar 3512C ACERT engines producing 1,230kW at 1,800rpm. They give a top speed of 15 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles. From inception, an important goal was “an exceptionally quiet yacht,” Delpini explains. “Extra noise and vibration damping means noise levels in harbour will be 45dB in the owner’s suite and 50dB in the main saloon.”
He admits that “the most interesting and challenging” aspects of the project were the knock-on effects of the first lockdowns. “Some suppliers were severely affected. It worked in clusters of companies that had shut down, so it hit the delivery of certain goods and we had to make some creative adjustments and find alternative solutions. To take one example, the passerelle was delayed, but we still had to carry on testing the hydraulic pumping unit and make sure we weren’t delaying any progress.”
CRN has the advantage of a prodigious array of in-house skills at its disposable: shipwrights, engineers, cabinetmakers, electricians, mechanics, welders, painters, marble-workers and upholsterers. “Every day we had 60 to 80 people on board, a small factory, and that is not including the workshops,” Delpini says.
“I’m proud that this is a full Italian boat,” he continues. “The main parties and subcontractors are all Italian, and most are from the local area. Apart from the American engines, most of the machinery is made or customised in Italy and the interior design was all done here too.
“I’m very happy with what we’ve done and that this boat ended up with lovely owners,” Delpini adds. “We were surrounded by a nice team that faced things in an enthusiastic way and were determined to find good solutions.”
While the transformation of the yacht is impressive, so is the speed at which it was all done. This rapid turnaround crowns CRN’s accomplishments. “When the new owners arrived we had only six months to update the interior before the delivery [in May], and the only things that were not changed were the walls and the ceiling,” comments Piacenti. “The look and feel now is completely different.”
Once understated and softly spoken, the newly reborn Rio is a completely different character. It’s a livelier personality, one that exudes vitality. Its motto could be “Never a dull moment”. This is a yacht that promises to brighten up your day and show you the fun side of life.
First published in the October 2022 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.shop now