Ferretti Yachts breaks into superyacht terrain with a stylish new model that also offers some speedy performance to boot
With the introduction of their new 960 motoryacht, the Italian builder has done what appears to be a conjuring trick. They have made an 80-foot yacht into a 96-foot yacht, which sounds like magic but it is actually a logical development. So how can a 24 metre (80 feet) become a 96-footer? It’s all a case of how you measure the length. For the 960, Ferretti took the proven hull of their 881, which qualified as a 24 metre yacht under the MCA requirements, and added nine feet to the stern behind the transom. Presto! You now have a 96 footer that still measures as a 80-footer. The benefit is that size for size, it comes in cheaper than the opposition and you still get the benefits of the Ferretti quality.
So what’s so special about the 24-metre mark? The 24-metre category of motor yacht was introduced a few years ago to set international construction and equipment standards. Go over the 24-metre limit, and you must have a professional skipper. Also, the construction has to meet a number of big ship standards that add considerably to the cost and weight. The 24 metre length is measured from the transom to a point midway up the bow, so as along as the yacht has this length it can have big overhangs to extend the length without compromising its category as ‘under 24 metres’. Most builders add anything up to ten feet to the length, but Ferretti has added 15 feet to make this 960 “The biggest 24-metre yacht ever”. The good part for a buyer is that they have done this without compromising the performance. With this new 96 footer, Ferretti has also moved a significant step up the size ladder to something bordering on the superyacht sector.
It may sound like bending the rules, but this is a fine ocean-going motor yacht with sparkling performance and a luxurious interior. That extra space at the stern has been used to very good effect to create a brilliant tender garage combined with a compact Beach Club. When the garage door is closed, there is a sun bed built into the lid just above the swim platform. Open the garage door and you find a very cleverly designed tender area that allows the tender to be launched and recovered by just one person.
A Williams’s diesel jet tender can be accommodated here and you can even specify a hose refuelling system for this. The tender sits on a tilting cradle and when the centre section of the swim platform is lowered there is a direct slipway into the sea. The whole operation is push-button controlled and it takes just seconds to have the tender in the water.
This is an impressive yacht in port, but out at sea, it shines. It’s a bit like the experience of a luxury limo – you have no idea of the speed at which you are travelling at until you look at the dials. This is silent, sophisticated performance at its best. I did not even realise we had left the dock until I saw the land going by! You can have conversations in a normal voice while powering along at speeds of over 30 knots. There are no vibrations and no rattles – just the gentle throb of the engines. Just one little fly in this ointment of contentment and that is a whine from the vee drive gearboxes at speed but even that has been subdued from normal.
There was no sea of any consequence that was likely to affect the performance of a big yacht in the blue Mediterranean on the West Coast of Italy. The waves were about three feet high under the influence of a light westerly wind, and the 960 powered through them with just a faint thump as they hit the chines. In bigger seas, the full bow of the 960 might slow things down a bit but this is a full, ocean-going yacht and it works just as well at moderate speeds as at full throttle. The yacht turns under full control and even when we hit our own lively wake we just powered through it as though it wasn't there. This was blissful performance and you could even enjoy the fierce wind blowing over the flybridge windscreen at the top speed of 32 knots. We were running with the top of the range MTU diesels, but even with the lower powered options performance would still be in the high 20's.
All of the engine options are based on the MTU Series 2000 v16 diesels, which are very compact considering the power that they develop. The engines are set wide apart with about four feet between them, so you get good manoeuvring control in harbour. To help out, there are also bow and stern thrusters so you have excellent control at low speed. Extra space has been created within the hull by installing the fuel tanks in the bottom of the hull, where they are integral with the hull moulding.
Stability is ensured by the twin gyro stabilisers that come as standard which are very effective at low speeds or when at anchor. You can also specify an additional pair of fin stabilisers, which will add to the stability at higher speeds so that every base is covered.
For accommodation, Ferretti has opted for a low-key, neutral décor but with the emphasis on high quality furniture and fittings. The large options list allows for a variety of decorative finishes but the overall effect is one of quiet and relaxation. Ferretti has gone to extraordinary lengths to reduce noise levels on board, and you see that attention to detail in the thick doors that close with a gentle clunk.
In the saloon an innovation is the use of full height side doors on the starboard side, not opening onto a balcony but just on to the side deck. Just the presence of the full height glass adds to the great feeling of space and light in the saloon and you can open both side and rear doors to get the full fresh air benefit. The saloon itself divides into the normal lounge and dining areas with low key, high quality furniture and subdued luxury.
This design takes Ferretti into new territory as it is their first raised pilothouse yacht and the first with the master suite at main deck level. This is a lovely suite with wide-open views through the side windows where the bulwarks have been lowered. There is a walk-in closet here and the bathroom at the forward end can be specified with either a large shower room or a tub or both.
Down below, guests are catered for in four virtually identical staterooms, with the two forward cabins having beds that can be split to create singles. This allows for excellent flexibility in the guest arrangements.
The layout of the 960 allows the crew to work the yacht without impinging on the guest areas. The comprehensively equipped galley its just forward of the dining area and incorporates the crew's mess room. From here there is deck access through an outside door, access to the luxury crew's quarters down below and access to the pilothouse via stairs going up. Everything has been very well thought out here to allow quick and easy movement.
The pilothouse is compact, but there is seating for guests here. The wide window mullions do restrict the outside view and there is no view astern from here, so you need to rely heavily on the electronic navigation screens that are arrayed along the front below the windows. There is a large amount of stowage here and direct access up to the flybridge.
On the flybridge itself, there is a helm station on the port side, as well as the option for another set of controls to starboard for easy docking. A double counter bar area features a double grill barbecue large enough to roast a hog and opposite is the table where you can eat it. The whole area is given over to lounging or possibly a hot tub or perhaps stowage for a pair of jet skis. The forward end is sun protected by a fixed T-top with a large opening centre section.
This flybridge area is 30 feet in length and there is the same generous space throughout this yacht with wide side decks and high bulwarks and/or rails. The sliding door to the saloon is electrically operated and the cockpit is very inviting for either those evening drinks or fine dining. On the forward coachroof there is more seating and a sun bed.
Overall the styling is very sporty and Ferretti has developed a great flowing profile.
Talking to Fabio Marcellino the project manager for the 960, he commented: “We took many elements from our superyacht experience to develop the 960 and we have combined these with the classic Ferretti styling. I have worked 2 ½ years on this project which has taken Ferretti yachts into new territory.” Just so. The 960 sets a new standard in this competitive category in quality, price and performance, and it all comes together in a beautifully proportioned sports yacht.
In Hong Kong: www.starshipyachts.com
In Singapore: www.hongseh.com
In Thailand: www.leemarine.com
Technical Specifications – Ferretti 960
LOA: 29.2 metres
LWL: 22.34 metres
Beam: 6.72 metres
Draught: 2.2 metres
Displacement (lightship): 87 tonnes
Fuel: 9000 litres Fresh water: 1,320 litres
Transom Deadrise: 12°
Engine Options: 2 x 2218 hp 16V M84 MTU diesels or 2 x 2435 hp 16V M93 MTU diesels
Engines Tested: 2 x 2638 hp 16V M94 MTU diesels
Top speed (M94): 31 knots
Cruise speed (M94): 27 knots
Range at cruise: 300 nautical miles