Published in: Sunday, 12 December 2010
Features > Perini Navi - Exuma (Page 1/2)

Perini Navi - Exuma

Imagine a motoryacht that combines the best of Italian luxury on-board with the efficiency of sailing yacht hull. The new 50-metre Exuma from Perini Navi’s Picchiotti yard is just that – it even comes with its own hovercraft tender

Once every few years, a radically designed superyacht splashes into the water, and grabs the attention of owners, captains, designers and potential buyers. Perhaps the last to do this successfully was the 88-metre Maltese Falcon launched by Perini Navi in 2006. Now, Exuma, from the same yacht builder has been launched and she is having the same effect. Manufactured under the brand name of Vitruvius Yachts, drawn by a sailboat designer and built by Picchioti, a company that began in 1600 and now has a new lease of life thanks to the Perini Navi Group, Exuma is as radically different as one would expect.

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The Vitruvius concept is the brainchild of Veerle Battiau. Seeking a motoryacht that could do what a sailing yacht did, she reasoned that superyacht owners needed a yacht over which they had more control. It was while working with a French yacht builder that she first met Philippe Briand, one of the world’s best-known figures in sailing yacht design. Briand shared her opinion that a motoryacht could combine all the positives associated with sailing yachts with the benefits associated with luxury motoryachts, and equally important have a similar environmental foot print.

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What emerged from the drawing boards at Philippe Briand Design was an environmentally-friendly, long-range yacht with an elongated, sleek hull that’s designed for maximum hydrodynamic efficiency. The hull line on this yacht therefore features a plumb-line bow, which extends the length of waterline to the overall length of the yacht and cuts drag by up to five percent compared to yachts with a standard shape and similar length. 

Moreover, the straight bow spreads buoyancy along the elongated waterline, allowing for a faired longitudinal line design, and so avoids steep, hollow lines further aft.  Water tank testing proved that the hull used for the build of Exuma requires around 30 percent less power at maximum speed than a similar sized conventional motoryacht, yielding a far larger range at cruising speed. The resulting design paid close attention to the three key principles dictated for the boat: that it should be efficient, sustainable and robust. With the concept tested, it was time to involve a shipyard.

Getting Exuma in the water

Exuma 1

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Back in 2005, German mega-yacht specialist Lürssen, hoping to find owners that would build avant-garde designs at their yard, announced that they would build the first of the Vitruvius Yachts. The statement generated huge amounts of media attention and many magazine pages were filled with inspirational drawings and smiling faces of designers and yacht builders. Later, it became apparent that the size of a Vitruvius yacht did not fit well within the shipyard’s business plan, and the idea of them building the yacht was dropped. With Lürssen out of the running, a new yard had to be found.

Fortunately, Perini Navi had decided to revive the Picchiotti name, a brand they had acquired in 1990 when they purchased the yard and were looking for an opportunity to build a new breed of motoryacht; they were keen to establish a new benchmark for the industry. 

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Work on Exuma began in 2008 at the Cantieri Navali Beconcini shipyard in La Spezia, a yard whose name has subsequently been changed to Picchiotti Shipyard. Two years later she was completed. The smooth, streamlined and elongated waterline with a dramatic upright bow are what her designer calls, prosaically, the Briand Optimised Stretched Hull. Walk around the yacht while she’s out of the water and you get the impression of a sailing boat without sails was emphasised by the hull design. This was greatly reduced once the yacht was launched and she was lowered as gently, into the Mediterranean water. Two, huge gull-wing doors on either side of the hull house the yacht’s special toys for use in remote locations: a hovercraft on one side and a completely customised amphibious vehicle on the other.

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Here is a vessel designed to be used and enjoyed, not tied to the dock and wrapped up in endless maintenance. Gone are superfluous features such as teak handrails and stainless steel. Instead, handrails feature matt titanium, which is both beautiful and practical, especially as the yacht carries a relatively small crew for her size. The huge flush foredeck has two deck hatches allowing access to the rescue boat and the jetski, both handled by the telescopic crane located beside them. This deck is the perfect place for passengers to survey the world as well as being a superb sunbathing area.