The 26.5-metre Sandro may not be the sportiest yacht afloat, but stepping on board reveals a Narnia-worthy selection of features and space. Katia Damborsky takes a close look at the yacht that represents a new dawn for Lazzara Yachts.
Credit: Lazzara Yachts
On the ocean, everything is a compromise. Sexy sports boats won’t have as much space on the interior, and brawny, high-volume boats won’t be the slickest-looking yachts in any marina. But not coming first place in a beauty pageant didn’t deter Lazzara Yachts when they conceived their UHV – ultra high volume – concept. The first unit, the UHV 87, is “handsome [but] it is a pretty tall boat,” admits David Galante, Lazzara’s executive vice president. But there’s that compromise: “You cannot get this much interior volume in a boat and not make it tall and wide,” says Galante.
I’m touring the first hull, christened Sandro, in Cannes, and find that the UHV has plenty of fans who are seeing it in person. Stepping on board feels like stepping into the wardrobe from The Chronicles of Narnia; every corner holds a hidden space or surprising feature that would look more at home on a yacht in a much larger weight class. The 26.5-metre has an internal volume of 170 GT — equal to the 55-metre sailing yacht Adela and 36-metre monohull Java. However, it's not just the volume that makes this yacht impressive.
“As unusual as it sounds, [the owner of Lazzara] wants to build a boat that is perfect,” explains Galante. “We all know that that is a unicorn, it doesn’t exist,” he adds. But that didn’t stop the yard throwing everything they had at Sandro. “We’re buying the most expensive [equipment] in the world and then adding two of them in case it fails,” says Galante. “The quality that we have is extraordinary. It’s beyond the normal standards of yachts that I’ve worked with in the past.”
Perhaps this comes from the fact that Sandro’s owner could buy a larger yacht if he wanted to, but he had seen the problems his friends were having on their 50-metre yachts first-hand and decided he didn’t need the headache. He was drawn to the UHV concept for a couple of reasons, one being that it sat below the threshold that would require an engineer on board as well as a captain. “To be honest, my initial criteria were the build quality of the boat and seaworthiness,” says the owner. “The UHV 87 had impressive technical features and huge interior space.” Safety was another key feature the owner specified, and he was clear that he needed a boat that was reliable and dependable for long seasons at sea.
To this end, the boat was built with the quality and ethos of a 50-metre yacht. Expenses weren’t spared and big-boat construction techniques – like avoiding thru-holes – were implemented. Internal metal structure spaces around 6 inches of air so the floor is floating, allowing the insulation and wiring systems to run seamlessly below it. In other words, Lazzara “used up space floating the floors” and still ended up with “enormous headroom,” according to Galante. If you were to make the decks lower — thus avoiding the “tall” look — the cabins on the lower deck would start to lose space as they curved inwards, coming below the waterline and then “you get all these splashing and gushing water noise in the cabins”.
“The wheelhouse sets the tone for the entire yacht. When you stand in the wheelhouse, you are on a superyacht”
The 18.4-square metre wheelhouse is extraordinary in size, and the long, lazy spiralling staircase that leads from this deck down to the lower deck feels like it should be swapped for a compact staircase. But Craig Bonnett, one of the designers behind the UHV 87 explains that “the wheelhouse sets the tone for the entire yacht. When you stand in the wheelhouse, you are on a superyacht”. The staircase aims to continue that feeling. “You can stand at the top or bottom and see down or up all three levels,” says Bonnett. “And a superyacht is expected to have a centrepiece like this.”
The wheelhouse is finished in dark, satin walnut. It’s a sharp contrast to the main saloon, upper saloon and master cabin, which are finished in a very striking, Ibiza-esque glossy ivory and gleaming gold. That colour palette was the owner’s choice, but for the rest of the yacht, he gave the Lazzara team free reign.
The owner of Sandro is a first-time buyer, and the funny part with a first-time owner, according to Galante, is they don’t know how good they’ve got it because they don’t have a baseline. They’ve never experienced being a week into their dream yacht itinerary, experiencing a problem, and having to limp to the nearest service yard. The owner went on a long shakedown cruise with the yacht, spending weeks at a time with guests on board, hopping between ports and exploring hidden coves and secret beaches. “They had one issue with the pump but it’s redundant because they went to the engine room, transferred the switch and the owner never knew about any problems,” says Galante.
The obsession with quality probably comes from the fact that Lazzara is building on a legacy. The former Lazzara Yachts was an American family-owned business that shuttered operations around 2014. Lazzara restarted five years ago under the Euromarine umbrella, with offices in the States and production taking place in the Antalya Free Zone, in Turkey. Almost everything bar the marble, glass and engine room components are completed in house.
Sandro is the first yacht to sail out of the yard in 2021. But, the market seems to be responding well to the UHV. “The look is different. It’s a displacement boat. But it goes for a very long distance/range, it’s an efficient hull, so you have fuel for a thousand nautical miles,” says Galante. “We’re not selling just a pretty boat that can go out to the cove and come back in the afternoon, we’re selling a boat that you get on at the beginning of the season, you receive guests for a week, you stay on, you go to new places.”