All systems grow: Inside the 49m Benetti Elaldrea+
by Cecile Gauert
As families get bigger, so do superyacht owners’ needs. Thankfully, Benetti had just the platform upon which one such owner could build his custom dream, Elaldrea+
To small children, the shallow pool on board Elaldrea+ seems like an ideal ocean – briny and buoyant but seaweed- and jellyfish-free. As they splash in this protected environment, adults can witness the fun from the comfort of a large and springy sunpad close enough for them to intervene if play gets a bit too rumbustious. This detail and many more were imagined and sketched out on paper long before the first steel was ever cut.
Everything about this thoroughly thought out 48.8-metre Benetti is about family, including its hard-to-pronounce moniker, a compilation of names. The owner commissioned the boat after a long, happy relationship with his 35-metre Benetti Classic, Elaldrea. Launched in 2002, the owner’s first Benetti was a semi-custom yacht built in fibreglass. Her successor, a full-displacement vessel in steel and aluminium with transatlantic range, zero-speed stabilisers, a beach club and two pools, clearly deserved the “plus” sign.
The move to a bigger, more complex yacht was a natural evolution for an owner who has enjoyed boats for many years and loves to spend time on board. It was not a rushed decision, according to the owner’s long-time captain, but the result of a patient multi-year gestation. “We use the yacht mainly with the family, and since the family is growing, so is the yacht,” says the owner, who started his relationship with boating “with fast and noisy offshore boats”. Being able to cater for the family was consideration number one but, as he says, “the second and no less important reason [for going up in size] was comfort”.
Elaldrea+ is plenty comfortable, a custom yacht built at Italian superyacht builder Benetti’s Viareggio shipyard, where I first spotted it. It got my attention with its linear features, accented with spectacular silver and pearlescent white paint by DuPont. A couple of birds fluttered around the mast and domes as if to direct attention to their height and silver sheen.
The exterior look was an important starting point. “The owner liked the Benetti brand, but he wanted a different design,” says Horacio Bozzo, who conceived the lines and layout. “Elaldrea+was designed for a sophisticated owner looking for an elegant, timeless and contemporary yacht. Essential and pure lines were the soul of this project, where the demands of design embrace functionality.”
One example of this philosophy is the prow area. The bow stretches far forward of the waterline and the bulb below. It’s a classic style but beyond that it has allowed Bozzo to create the child-friendly pool area and preserve a good-sized technical deck where a rescue tender resides when the yacht is used privately. If and when the yacht is put into charter service, commercial regulations mandate the rescue tender be stowed elsewhere, and Bozzo planned for that eventuality.
“When the boat is registered for private use, they can stow the rescue boat forward of the collision bulkhead, but in case they want to charter the boat one day, the rescue boat fits inside [the splash pool],” he explains. One of the sockets, normally used to hold poles supporting a sunshade, can accommodate a temporary crane that lifts the rescue boat in and out of the pool.
Bozzo, founder of Axis Group Yacht Design, came to yacht design via engineering. “When I decided to do this, when I was 16 years old, I thought that it was normal to become an engineer and naval architect to design boats; later I realised it was not always the case,” he says with a laugh. It is evident that he enjoys the challenge of solving puzzles as much as coming up with attractive shapes or a stunning paint scheme.
In this case the big challenge was to define areas for three generations who enjoy spending time together but have different interests – and to do so within an existing naval platform under 50 metres and below 500 gross tonnes. “We love the different areas that Horacio created for us,” the owner says, “in particular the indoor-outdoor feeling of the beach club and the different exterior areas that give us multiple options to stay during the day.”
The captain reports that everyone uses the boat as they anticipated they would. The teenagers spend a lot of time at the transom, in the large beach club, swimming and enjoying watersports. The smaller children enjoy the saltwater pool and a sixth cabin on the bridge deck, which has been fitted with a large comfortable sofa and a PlayStation. Adults favour the sundeck, where a second spa pool is located. A great feature here is a multiple-panel glass door located between a free-standing bar and the pool. It can be closed in sections to shelter the deck from wind. Another favourite adult space is the upper deck, with large bar tops able to accommodate dishes served family style, a large television and a couple of custom-built card tables.
With so much experience in boating, the owner was keen on taking part in the development of the project. “He was very involved,” says Bozzo, who visited his homes and met him at the shipyard on at least six occasions. It was the yacht’s home dock that determined the portside positioning of the balcony in the master suite.
The owners worked directly with Benetti’s interiors department on the elegant, grown-up decor. The primary wood is a light tanganika accented with darker walnut trim. Guests entering from the starboard lobby or the aft deck step on to a marble floor that features the yacht’s logo in afyon miele and sahara noir. The owners chose it to emphasise the contour of the stairs, a sculptural shape that is finished with a paint mimicking bronze.
More metal, including stainless-steel details in the furniture and hardware from Dnd Martinelli, is used in the interior – but the result is never harsh. Panels of silk framed in wood and buttery leather, used in cabins primarily, add softness to the ensemble. In addition to a few custom pieces, such as the coffee and dining tables in the main saloon, the owners chose pieces from famous Italian labels, such as Poltrona Frau and Giorgetti. The only obvious concession to the youngest generation is the games room decorated with lively, sturdy fabrics and wall coverings from Romo.
The needs of this multi-generational family pushed Bozzo and the Benetti technical department to the limits of the allowed volume on what Benetti refers to as its 700 platform to accommodate 12 guests, nine crew and large parties at the dock. Elaldrea+ is 499GT and boasts six guest cabins, all en suite, and 372 square metres of exterior decks.
Like most shipyards that build large yachts in metal, Benetti has developed a number of platforms to construct boats that are entirely custom from the main deck up. Drawing a parallel with the car world, Nick Bischoff, Benetti’s country manager for the Americas, explains: “You take a platform, a chassis like a 7 Series BMW, and you put something creative on top of it. I think [Horacio Bozzo] did an amazing job with the profile and the look of the boat, but you could have something completely different. What makes it a Benetti is the logo on the side and the made-in-Italy philosophy of all the beautiful accoutrements inside the boat.”
The use of a platform presents several advantages. “The client is sure to get a well-proven hull,” says Ferdinando Pilli, custom engineering manager at Benetti. There is no guessing game or tweaking period, and matters of noise, vibration and performance have all been addressed before the hull splashes. “The major problems will be avoided, and at the same time the boat can be like no other,” he says. It’s also a time saver, since all the engineering, CFD analysis and tank testing have already been done.
Elaldrea+ was designed and built in two-and-a-half years and delivered in October 2018. Modifications to the existing platform were significant, with the addition of a 24-square-metre bathing platform plus two large pools. “The challenge is to keep the same volume, and to not modify the hull or other important parameters for stability, seaworthiness and so on,” Pilli says.
That challenge was met with flying colours. The captain, who ran the previous Elaldrea, says the larger boat is more fuel-efficient, although they both have MTU 2000 series engines. Of course, as he points out, 16 years separate the two and technology has evolved greatly.
“I’m so impressed with the stability of the boat. It’s very sea kind, it rides wonderfully, its fuel economy is unbelievable,” he says. “We’re burning 170 litres an hour and we’re doing 14 knots [with one generator]. It’s wonderful,” he says.
Straight out of the yard, he took the yacht to Barcelona and then Palma. From there, Elaldrea+was loaded on to a transport ship to Martinique and did the normally rough trek northward to the Bahamas. It’s the kind of trip that can make things like stabilisers a much-appreciated bonus. “The big stabilisers they put on the Naiads, big fins, are wonderful,” the captain says.
On a run from Viareggio to La Spezia with the owners on board and in relatively rough seas, he kept the water in the sundeck spa pool. “We didn’t spill a drop,” he enthuses. Making a big splash – that’s the job of the children in the family.
Photography: Jim Raycroft