Some seriously outsized ideas went into the small but perfectly formed Custom Line Navetta 30.
Large custom yachts tend to be the stars of the yachting world, demanding attention with their grand proportions alone. But, as Stefano de Vivo, chief commercial officer of the Ferretti Group, points out: “It’s a lot harder to design a beautiful small yacht than a beautiful big yacht because the human being is always the same height.”
He’s right, of course. People need the same amount of space whether they are on a 50 metre or a 30 metre. The decks must have the same height, and stacking several of them on a 50 metre will certainly look more streamlined than on a shorter yacht. A true tri-deck of 30 metres is just asking to look chunky and top heavy.
Except for this one. The Ferretti Group has introduced an entry-level yacht for its Custom Line Navetta series that defies design logic. The Navetta 30, at precisely 28.4 metres, has no half-deck raised pilothouse tucked between the main deck and flybridge. Instead, it incorporates a full upper deck – including bridge, indoor lounge and shaded al fresco dining for 10 – and tops it with a resort-like sundeck, yet the petite tri-deck looks long and lean. And its interior, by Milanese design firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel (ACPV), is like no other. The Navetta 30 is the unicorn: a standout that doesn’t rely on grandiose dimensions.
Launched in October 2020, the 30 is the newest in Custom Line’s Navetta range, replacing the older 28. It joins 33-, 37- and 42-metre models, all of which have been unveiled since 2016 to make up the new generation.
Navetta yachts prioritise space and comfort, so despite being the baby of the series the 30 needed ample height and volume. With a 7.3-metre beam encompassing 197 gross tonnes, it has 22 per cent more volume than its predecessor. Creating an agile and harmonious design within these measurements was, as exterior designer Filippo Salvetti says, “not a simple task”.
This was his first project with Custom Line, and he delivered sophisticated contemporary styling in keeping with the brand’s DNA before employing a few tricks. “By visually bringing the hull up to the upper deck and separating it from the gunwale using a sharp black horizontal line, it was possible to streamline the forms of the upper deck,” says Salvetti. The dark glass, he adds, is another design element that draws the eye horizontally, rather than vertically.
For the interiors the Ferretti Group also went in a new direction, turning to ACPV, world renowned for its architecture, urban design and product design. “To be honest it was a giant leap for us,” says Ferretti Group CEO Alberto Galassi. “They are very demanding. They are used to working with the best.”
The initial idea, says de Vivo, was that ACPV would give a different perspective, one that was more villa and less marine, but the design firm had something else in mind. “They were the first ones to say, ‘Let’s not go too villa style; let’s keep something that really makes you understand you are on a boat.’ And I think they managed to mix the two things really well. The result is a beautiful interior that feels like a villa but doesn’t make you forget you are on a boat.”
Patricia Viel herself is no stranger to yachting; she owns a lake boat and indulges in sailing holidays around the world. “I’m passionate about everything that is floating,” she says. It didn’t take her long to understand the uniqueness of the Navetta 30. De Vivo describes it as “love at first sight” at the initial meeting.
“The Navetta 30 is very special, I have to say. It’s a tri-deck displacement boat in quite a small size, but really delivering a lot of spaces and different options,” says Viel. “And that was the main goal… providing interior design for a boat that has to be somehow reconfigurable by the customer.” Not only was she thinking about how it could be customised for different owners, but also about the flexibility needed for one owner. “For example, you have the freedom to create a dance floor on the main deck, or to collect all the tables that you have on board and compose a very, very long dining table because you want to have 20 people on board for a dinner party,” she adds.
Another area where the designers brought a new perspective was how they thought about the ambience on each deck. “In my view it’s a little bit annoying [when] you are changing the deck from above to below and you’re in a completely different environment,” says Viel. “You are somehow expected to change, to wear something different or to behave somehow differently. This is not our way of thinking for someone that is just navigating on vacation with friends, having fun and having beautiful moments everywhere on the boat.”
So instead of the typical formality of the main deck, conviviality of the upper deck and barefoot informality of the sundeck, “what we tried to do here is create one space all over with the same material range, with the same details and the same touch everywhere”, she says.
The decor they chose has a sporty flavour – Viel calls it a beach club style. Materials are natural, matt and very tactile. The wall covering in the saloons, for example, is fibreglass with tiny raised 3D-printed dots, and for continuity this same wallpaper is repeated on the lower deck.
As de Vivo points out, you never forget you are on a boat. The guest cabins feature deep blue lacquer accent walls that mimic the depths of the Mediterranean. The teak decks are carried into the interior spaces, and on the upper level the aft deck and saloon both have a warm teak overhead. A distinctively nautical feature is the rope balustrade that lines all the staircases inside and out, including the artistic spiral of carbon fibre and teak that climbs from the upper aft deck to the sundeck. Linking the motif to the furniture, the same rope is used on chair backs on both decks.
These chairs were custom designed for the project, of course, as were all the pieces on board except for sofas in the main and upper saloons that were designed by Antonio Citterio for Flexform and B&B Italia. Citterio’s furniture design melds beauty and functionality and is undeniably Italian; in fact his work has been credited with defining modern Italian style.
This casually stylish decor complements the high level of cruising comfort that characterises the Navetta line. Not for speed demons, these yachts are ideal for the owner who enjoys relaxed cruising. The Navetta 30 has four engine options and the package chosen for hull No 1 – 1,000hp MAN V8s – gives a top speed of 15 knots.
“We’ve seen basically that owners use [their yachts] 90 per cent of the time at 10 to 13 knots, so we’ve designed the hull to be much better performing at that range of speeds,” says de Vivo. The new-generation hulls have a finer entry at the bow that gives way to more rounded displacement features aft. Considering how much larger the 30 is than the previous 28 model, it’s amazing to learn that at 13 knots, the Navetta 30 burns 15 per cent less fuel than the 28. In addition to increasing efficiency and range, the hull shape keeps the yacht level, or neutrally trimmed, as it gains speed, which adds to the comfort.
Since height is the enemy of stability, and the 30 has the stature of longer yachts, a lot of work went into reducing weight aloft by using carbon fibre. In addition, the Navetta 30 offers both zero-speed stabiliser fins as standard and the option of a Seakeeper gyro. “When you activate both, the level of stabilisation is incredible,” says de Vivo. “Stability has become a very important part of yachting. We are working every day to make sure this aspect is improved.”
Another major factor affecting comfort is noise. The Ferretti Group technical department did extensive research into noise propagation sources for the new Navettas before applying their attenuation know-how from their larger yacht production.
Here again, the Navetta 30’s size proved to be a challenge. “When you are smaller, the engine room is closer, so it’s harder to obtain [good] results,” de Vivo points out. Yet the results are impressive: the owner’s cabin on the main deck registers just 44 decibels under way at 10 knots and 37 at anchor. It is comparable to a 50 metre, de Vivo says.
That’s clearly not the only thing on board this 30 metre that’s on a par with large yachts, thanks to the combination of the Ferretti Group engineering department’s R&D and the fresh thinking of Salvetti and ACPV. For example, note the “sunset lounge” in front of the bridge specified by the interior designers that blends so well into the profile created by Salvetti, or the floating glass bar that faces forward on the sundeck, just begging for guests to sit and enjoy an evening cruise.
“The way that the space has been [configured] for so many different ideas and moments of the day,” says de Vivo, “I’m pretty sure our owners are going to complain that you don’t get as much in the larger yachts.”
Talking Navetta with Alberto Galassi
Not only is he CEO of the Ferretti Group, Alberto Galassi is also a yacht owner himself. Of all the brands the Ferretti Group builds – Riva, Ferretti Yachts, CRN, Custom Line, Wally, Pershing, Itama and Mochi Craft – his personal yacht is the Custom Line Navetta 37, Telli.
Why choose a Navetta? Because I like to relax. I love to cruise at night and wake up in the morning in a different location. I love silence. I like to read, to watch TV, sometimes to cook… There is no need in my life for speed. I am looking for comfort.
Why did you recently move from the Navetta 33 to the 37? The range is greater and there is more space for guests, but overall I just love the way it moves. The way it floats, the way it cruises, is a step ahead of the 33.
Your favourite cruising ground for your Navetta? Lampedusa Island has one of the best seas you can find in the Mediterranean, if not the very best. It’s not famous for that; it’s more famous for migrants arriving into Italy, but it is a beautiful island and far away from the crowds.
Your favourite space or feature on your yacht? The sundeck and the upper deck are huge. You can play football on the sundeck, and the upper deck can host 15 people. And the silence and comfort. I’m obsessed with comfort. I’m asking the group to invest millions and millions in comfort.
Do you have an artist of choice to showcase on board? Alex Katz and Robert Longo are two unbelievable American artists. And Italian artists Lucio Fontana and Alighiero Boetti [both of whose work is also shown on hull No 1 of the Navetta 30].
What do you think about the first hull of the Navetta 30? I love the Navetta 30 because it reminds me of being on a yacht and not in a flat on Park Avenue, which is what some yachts are looking like.