It is a small 70 metre,” says Baglietto’s project manager Davide Pistorello of the new 40-metre Club M. The comparison with larger superyachts keeps coming up in conversations with the exterior designer, Horacio Bozzo, the interior designer, Achille Salvagni, and the project managers.
And truly, the planning, engineering, interior, materials and level of customisation of this new Baglietto rival that of much larger custom yachts. This is due in large part to the owner, who hails from the real estate world and has been involved in high-profile residential and hospitality projects in New York. He knows design, understands construction and has been boating for some 30 years with his family. All this experience went into creating his first custom-built yacht.
The owner agreed to speak about the process on the condition of keeping his name out of the discussion. “My wife and I cherish our privacy,” he says, which was one of the primary driving factors in the design of Club M.
We catch up over the phone from his office in Manhattan after he’s had a chance to spend a few weeks on board, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed. “I am very, very happy,” he says, before we delve into his boating history. He owned and ran many boats that brought him and his family pleasure but that left him wanting in one way or another. “I love being on boats,” he says, “and I was OK to spend the money to fix them when they needed it, but I was not happy with the layout or the quality or specifications.”
When the time came to look at a new yacht, he decided he’d build it to his exacting standards and avoid the same formulaic solutions found on many semi-custom yachts. He wanted something fresh and new, which required him to do a lot of the legwork.
“I worked on this for three years,” he says. “I took my time, interviewed a lot of designers and visited studios in Europe and a few here in the US. I met with a lot of shipyards, went to many boat shows and spent considerable time doing the research and looking at much bigger yachts – 60 metres, 70 metres – to understand what I wanted to build for us as a family.”
His research led him to the exterior designer first. “I interviewed quite a lot of designers and many are great, but with Horacio [Bozzo] I felt a good connection from the beginning,” he says, “and [appreciated] more than anything his willingness and openness to push the envelope and come up with a concept that had not really been done before.”
From the beginning, the owner liked the idea of a straight bow, which helps maximise the space as well as giving the yacht a contemporary look. This bow shape also helped create what the owner wanted above all, which was a very large and well-connected upper deck that allows free movement from bow to stern without going up and down steps. “I don’t think it’s been done like this on a yacht this size,” he says.
Being out in the open air on a boat is a welcome change of pace from life in New York City. Days are short in the city and it rains often. Boating is a nice reprieve. So naturally, he wanted views, a lot of light and large outdoor lounging and dining spaces that could be used in mid-season.
He also wanted to keep the yacht at a size that would not require a crew of more than four or five and would allow him the pleasure to take the wheel once in a while. One unusual request at a time when boats seem to grow vertically was that he wished for no more than two accommodation decks, which is quite rare on a yacht of this length, but allowed him to achieve a chic, sleek look – with no apparent jet skis, tenders or cranes.
The result is a raised pilothouse design very much unlike any other, with a low profile, long hull lines and a versatile top deck with extra-wide side decks – “they are as wide as walkways on some 60-metre yachts,” says Bozzo. About a quarter of the deck is covered, but with a system of louvres and electrically operated windows integrated into the hardtop, this entertainment space is flexible. It can be fully opened to the sunshine and sea breeze, or partially or fully sheltered. Even then, the light pours in.
It’s one of many interesting features. “Let me say that the boat is loaded,” says Bozzo. “It has all the amenities you find on larger boats: an owner’s balcony, a side boarding ladder, a beach club.” The foredeck has a lounge with vast sunpads and tables, which can be protected by an awning. Skylights integrated into the teak deck allow the sun to reach the owner’s suite on the main deck.
To keep views all around, the designer decided to use stainless-steel railings, like on a sailing yacht, and conceal the jet skis under the foredeck sunpad, as the owner suggested.
It takes closer examination to notice that Club M has a portside garage with an integrated crane, primarily used for the 3.4-metre rescue tender; the yacht is also designed to tow an 11-metre diesel Fjord 36 chase boat. Wing stations flanking the pilothouse are mounted on pistons, like a table would be, so they recede out of view when they are not being used.
A stepladder custom made by Sanguineti Chiavari deploys from within the decks to add a temporary link between the upper and main deck – allowing, for instance, the crew to access the main deck without walking past the guests as they lounge on the sundeck. At night, the yacht is illuminated by 28 underwater lights and a kilometre of rope lighting. The more closely you look at Club M, the more you realise she is a bit like a Swiss Army knife, with working tools hidden in a sleek envelope.
For the interior design and most of the deck furnishings, the owner selected Achille Salvagni, who has made his mark in yachts with semi-custom designs for Azimut-Benetti as well as bespoke interiors, such as the superb 70-metre Rossinavi Numptia. The owners had an easy time getting along with the designer, who understood their likes very quickly. “My wife and I spent a lot of time with him in Rome, London and here in New York and it was a really good working environment. He understands yachting and his design aesthetics are the top of the game,” the owner says.
With Club M, Salvagni, who also has a thriving line of custom furniture, home accessories and objets d’art, had the opportunity to create a fully bespoke interior. One inspiration for the design came from a remark the owner made in an early meeting. “When we met, he said: ‘I want to be my own club, my own planet,’” Salvagni says. “That drove me immediately to a different world. That’s why I created all these circular shapes,” he says. References to planetary objects and spacecraft are subtle but serve as a leitmotif throughout.
Within the interiors, aside from sizable windows, are limed oak, polished surfaces and a darker wood from the eucalyptus family. Salvagni also used parchment in lieu of leather, “because it is so thin that it can easily follow complex shapes”, as well as suede in the cabins. “It is all soft and subtle,” he says.
He eschewed sharp corners and edges in favour of curves and spheres wherever possible. Even stone seems to melt, with bathroom sinks shaped to resemble the craters of the moon, mirroring circular shapes in the main saloon’s ceiling.
To install the parchment, Salvagni found a technician who worked with Gio Ponti in Milan, another from the Vatican to work on the bronzed surfaces, and the hand-knotted silk carpets were made in Tibet. “When I have an outstanding craftsman, I create a project around him,” says Salvagni, but it is all in the pursuit of creating an atmosphere around the yacht’s owners. For instance, he used cast bronze elements to create green vegetation for the towel bars as a nod to the wife’s passion for flowers, and bronze and alabaster for sconces because the owners did not want too many references to the industrial world but prefer more natural materials.
All is scaled to fit within this specific envelope. A successful and sought-after residential designer, Salvagni approaches spaces on yachts differently than he does on land. “The space in the yacht is completely different from a residential one, so each element has to be created specifically. A seat on a yacht cannot have the height of a seat of a residential space because the floor-to-ceiling height is 25 per cent less; if you put a sofa made for a residence on board, it will appear as a giant sofa,” he explains. No such issue on Club M – all furnishings, except for a few exterior pieces by Paola Lenti, were designed and made specifically for the yacht.
Defining the design both inside and out was the owner’s important first step. It was only when the look and feel of Club M were well developed that he hired a project manager. “We put together a detailed specification book, and once we were ready with that, we went to bid out the job,” the owner says.
It was a tight race to the finish, he says, but ultimately the historic Italian shipyard Baglietto earned the business. The yard is perfectly versed in the construction of fast all-aluminium vessels and of late has taken increasingly larger projects. The management was interested in building a pure custom project for an American client and was both willing and competitive, the owner says.
Club M’s custom features proved to be an interesting challenge, says Pistorello, the yard’s experienced project manager. “There are a lot of complex movements – a folding terrace, the garage, hidden ladders that connect different decks – a lot of details that are amazing in a boat of this size,” he says.
In all it took about one third more working hours to create Club M than a comparably sized yacht. “It took two months just to create the curved teak shape around the Jacuzzi,” Pistorello says. This one feature (picture it as a truncated cone), which gives the glass-sided Jacuzzi the appearance that it is floating, had to be made first with plain wood, which was shaped to fit and then covered with similarly shaped teak.
Perhaps most challenging, however, was the interior with all these magnificent rounded shapes and curves, plus the large windows on the main deck, which had to be approved by the classification society. The interior was installed with meticulous precision by Mobilart, a company based in Pisa that worked closely with Salvagni and the yard.
In addition, the contract specified an aggressively low 40-decibel noise level, which mandated a careful study of materials and insulation. Then, of course, all of it had to work well with the boat in motion, 12 guests on board and a crew of five. Club M passed with flying colours during the owner’s six-week shakedown cruise in the Mediterranean.
The yacht “looks great and it runs great”, says the owner’s project manager, Roni Meshoulam. “It is top quality in terms of the space, efficiency.manoeuvrability and visibility; it’s also very quiet. You don’t hear the engines [Caterpillar C32s] anywhere on the main deck,” he says.
The yacht reached a top speed of 18.7 knots and it uses only about 100 litres of fuel an hour at economical speed, he says, which in theory gives it transatlantic range. It has everything from a Lloyd’s-approved integrated bridge by Telemar, to a sophisticated audiovisual system by Videoworks to supersized Naiad stabilisers and a 100-horsepower bow thruster that will keep the boat in place in 25 knots of wind.
“A lot of this equipment is what you would find in a 50-metre yacht,” Meshoulam says. Fitting it all within a sleek aluminium platform with a Bahamas-friendly draught was part of the challenge. “[Building a yacht] is always a conflict for me between beauty and practicality,” he says. “This is a win.”
The owner agrees. “Of course, we wanted it to be beautiful, but it is not a museum. The challenge is to create something that is functional and feels homely.” Club M is that great combination and it is proof that big ideas come in all different sizes.
This feature is taken from the May 2021 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.SHOP NOW