BOAT steps on board Bacchanal, the new 47 metre Benetti superyacht designed by Mauricio Gómez de Tuddo and P.L.A.N.A., while it's berthed at Miami's Island Gardens Marina...
Sometimes you just get lucky. In the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak, which scuttled boat shows and sea trials around the world, Benetti’s 47.2-metre FB703, Bacchanal, pitched up in my backyard. The owners had enjoyed the boat for months in the Bahamas and she was due to debut at the Palm Beach International Boat Show before leaving for Europe. The show cancelled and travel restrictions changing daily, they decided to have Bacchanal and her Latin American crew wait out the proverbial storm in Miami at Island Gardens Marina.
The sleek exterior lines designed by Benetti and accented by Gómez de Tuddo give Bacchanal a sophisticated simplicity.
Yet my hopes are almost dashed when Miami’s mayor shuts down all boat ramps and marinas to enforce social distancing. Fortunately, Island Gardens is a highly secure private marina and I’m able to slip in – after thoroughly washing my hands, that is. The marina looks like a ghost town when I arrive, silent except for the security guards who have moved the visitor sign-in desk outside under an umbrella. Most of the yachts are buttoned up, their decks swathed in canvas, their crews nowhere in sight. Bacchanal’s deck crew, on the other hand, are busy cleaning all the toys from two-and-a-half months of non-stop use. Music is playing; suds are flying.
Captain Benjamin Tellez apologises for the orgy of cleaning products and the gauntlet of toys spread along the dock. He explains it is the first time guests have been off the boat since just after Christmas, when she arrived on yacht transport from Italy. And yet every cushion is in place, every surface sparkles, everything from the dayheads to the engine room are in show condition, and this less than 48 hours after steaming in from the Exumas and packing off the full complement of guests.
A table that can seat up to 12 and a bar fronting an outdoor galley – with teppanyaki grill – offer excellent options for socialising.
Chief stew Dafne Garcia outlines the boat’s purpose – all family use, no charter. It’s a big Mexican family with three generations, including six brothers, all enjoying the boat together. The closeness extends to the crew as well – Tellez has been their captain for 20 years, and Garcia has been with the family for 12 so there’s an obvious value placed on loyalty. It’s not surprising, then, that Bacchanal is the family’s fourth from Azimut- Benetti. “They started with an Azimut 85 then a [30-metre] Jumbo and next was a 115 Benetti Classic in 2015. They like the company’s flexibility,” he says.
Flexibility is an interesting subject within this series, of which Bacchanal is the third boat. Last year Benetti showed off Elaldrea+, which was the second boat on the FB700 hull introduced by Domani in 2016. Elaldrea+ had a unique one-off superstructure styled by Horacio Bozzo but the hull and machinery were builder spec. Bacchanal was a return to a characteristic Benetti profile, but with a twist.
With its port-side furniture arrangement facing the outside world, the saloon is used more as a reception area in which to greet guests.
“We changed a lot of things,” explains Tellez, “some you can see but a lot you can’t. We have a lot of space dedicated to technology and to service.” Robustness, serviceability, redundancy and range were items where Tellez and chief engineer Arturo Ruvalcaba were given a free hand and after speccing all the equipment for the wheelhouse, communications and systems, the pair decamped to Italy to supervise the build.
“The owners authorised top-market equipment based on the way they will use the boat,” says Tellez. For example, since it will always be cruising in warm, typically humid areas, they specified a custom Heinen & Hopman air-conditioning system with not one but three air intake systems and ample dehumidification, plus extra engine room ventilation with commercial salt-mist filtration and a dedicated cooling unit for the engine room. They asked Benetti to elevate the engine room’s electrical equipment and place it behind panel doors to avoid damage from a potential oil or water spray. As the owners prefer to anchor out, they chose Naiad’s at-anchor stabilisation package and thrusters, large-capacity watermakers and the largest Dariel tender that could fit in the tender bay. For range, the yacht’s gearbox allows either single engine to turn both propeller shafts. Powered by one engine, the yacht reaches 8.9 knots.
The custom swimming pool at the forward edge is lined with iridescent glass tiles by Sicis.
“The yacht is special and does indeed fit the needs of the owner and his family quite well,” says Nick Bischoff, manager of Benetti Americas. “Captain Benjamin has been with the family for some time now and does have a good handle on the dislikes and likes of the owner as he has been intimately involved in all their builds with our company.”
For example, the specifications for this series call for seven crew, but with service being the key to successful holidays for 12 guests, Bacchanal sails with accommodation for 10, including a cabin for the engineer carved out of the lazarette. “This was more important than a larger gym or beach club,” says Tellez, and the owners agreed. Other structural changes included removing the internal crew stairs between the main deck and the bridge deck to make room for a larger service pantry off the galley and rearranging the crew area on the lower deck to allow a spacious triple cabin.
The owners cruise in hot, bright climates and the dark interiors are cool and soothing.
Just as much thought was put into the interior design. The owners brought in noted Mexico City architect Mauricio Gómez de Tuddo to refine their living spaces. The result, achieved in concert with the Benetti Interiors Department, is very modern, “like their houses,” says Tellez.
Gómez de Tuddo Arquitectos – a 30-year-old firm located in the fashionable Chapultepec district – is best known for high-end residences with an earthy, modernist style, an emphasis on glass, stone and raw wood and sleek, low furnishings. Ten years ago, Gómez de Tuddo created the family’s compound and since then has assisted with two of their yachts. This is the first that he designed from the beginning.
The design has both international allure and a strong made-in-Italy imprint, featuring brands such as Minotti, Flexform, Giorgetti, Rimadesio, Poltrona Frau and Exteta.
Accommodation is spread across three decks: six cabins, including the master suite, provide accommodation for 12. The family’s matriarch has a cabin between the upper saloon and the bridge, offering some seclusion from family cabins on the lower deck that include a children’s cabin with a Pullman berth. An egalitarian perspective means that all of the cabins are furnished the same, right down to the dark granite counters, contrasting with white Thassos marble floors, walls and shower, and dark bronze hardware in baths. The walls are panelled in wenge with furnishings in oak, and natural fabrics and leather in grey and charcoal.
“We have used dark wood tones on the interiors of their yachts since 2005,” Gómez de Tuddo explains. “They cruise in hot, bright climates and the dark interiors are cool and soothing. I am against ornamentation including niches and shelves. The visual effect is one of calm, where the views outside are what’s important.”
Large square umbrellas can be opened to shade some or all of the guests.
In fact, the people and places – rather than patterns and accessories – are the stars of the show, although Gómez de Tuddo has left strategic places for the art that will be collected on their travels. The main saloon and foyer display the first of these acquisitions, made during Art Basel Miami Beach, such as a kinetic piece by late Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto.
Apart from the master cabin, which follows the usual owner-forward layout pattern, the rest of the main deck is anything but typical. In the midships spot often filled by a dining table, Bacchanal has the furnishings of a saloon. The unconventional port-side furniture arrangement faces a floor-to-ceiling window – one huge piece of glass is all that stands between the viewer and the great wide world.
The amidships area of the main deck has floor-to-ceiling windows, which are the largest single panes of glass ever installed on a Benetti.
“They tell us they are the largest single panes of glass ever installed on a Benetti,” says Tellez. Two crew grab a tape measure and slip outside: the windows are five-and-a-half metres by two metres. Even in a marina, they are stunning in their size, clear optics and seamlessness. These windows make the space a destination.
“This room is used more like a reception area to greet guests than a saloon,” Garcia explains. “Or they might take a coffee here.” Underfoot, the sole is teak plank, like the outdoor deck beyond. As if on cue, Tellez and Garcia begin sliding full-height frameless glass wall sections from their recesses and waving me aft to the main deck dining area with its half-tonne marble table and stylish Italian take on campaign chairs.
With a feeling of living on the sea and in nature, the yacht fits the needs of the owner and his family.
Then they begin revealing another frameless glass wall between the dining table and the aft deck – and with it the indoor-outdoor living theme the owners had in mind. The dining area, under a hardtop that matches the saloon overhead, can be enclosed with the saloon if the weather is inclement or it can be opened to be part of the aft deck. Or the whole main-deck space can be open from stern rail to foyer as a single light-filled space. “The interesting thing is that it gives the main deck two areas with panoramic views,” says Gómez de Tuddo. “If the dining area was forward, it would have the views, but they don’t dine indoors much. This way the saloon has incredible views and the dining can be as open as they like.”
The really clever bit is that the dining area is actually aft of the weather doors and does not count as part of the yacht’s interior volume, helping keep the boat under 500GT. Gómez de Tuddo notes that the team’s surveyor, Ian Kerr, was instrumental in finding the unobtrusive drain and sump solution that would allow the yard to eliminate a high sill between the indoor and outdoor spaces and still meet class approval.
Subtle lines in the decor from panelling details to “floating” bar tops create a strong horizontal line to anchor the interior.
The upper saloon above continues the combination of materials and colours, dominated by teak and a metallic grey reminiscent of parts of the attractively accented superstructure. It features a large bar and an 85-inch television but the aft deck probably gets more attention, divided as it is into convivial seating areas. These spaces and the sundeck above, Tellez notes, are the result of “six or seven months” of design effort.
Down on the bow, meanwhile, there’s a spectacular teak-clad seating and dining area. It is a refinement of that found on the first 700 series yacht, coincidentally moored next to Bacchanal for an uncanny comparison. “I chose to alter the shape of the built-ins to match the curves of the bridge,” Gómez de Tuddo explains. Awnings attach to poles to shade the spot, which has proven popular with the family for breakfast.
Mauricio Gómez de Tuddo added the silver/grey accent paint to the superstructure to stretch the linear dimension.
“I’m happy that everything is the result of masterfully orchestrated teamwork and all my ideas and wishes were welcomed,” says one of the brothers who own the boat. “In this case I was looking for a yacht able to have spaces to host family and guests in their quarters, yet with the feeling of living on the sea and [in] nature, surrounded by total privacy.”
Typically the family’s Mediterranean cruising season would begin in early May, yet 2020 is proving to be anything but typical. At some point, however, the veil of a global virus will lift and Bacchanal will be waiting with the perfect environment for happier days at sea.
This feature is taken from the July 2020 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.
Imagery courtesy of Quin Bisset.