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Text and photographs by Antonio Bignami
BENETTI FB 218Almost ten years have gone by since Azimut yard acquired the Benetti shipyard of Viareggio (Leghorn, Italy). Benetti has been "the" yard entitled to represent part of the history of Italian pleasure yachting. Its name has been a synonym for the Italian style and the Italian tradition of craftsmanship, creativity and innovation as far as design and technology of luxury pleasure motor yachts is concerned. Since then, style and design followed their course. The yard, supported by an extraordinary entrepreneurial activity, perfectly associated the past, the present and the future of the international shipyard activity by meeting the demands of particularly demanding and knowledgeable clients.
In this way, the heritage that Benetti represented and still represents for the Viareggio-based shipyard activity gradually increased. One should keep in mind that for most international maxi-yacht clients Viareggio is synonym for the Italian yachting style. Nowadays, this Italian style is gaining consensus and success, notwithstanding the difficult period it is going through for several reasons. The related economic sectors, the yard structure which passes from an elite-oriented to and entrepreneurial company, the unmistakably Italian yet internationally accepted and celebrated style are just some of the features that describe Benetti's 1997 success which will most probably last till the third millenium. Images speak better than words.
The photographs shown here, taken from a small helicopter fighting against the wind, hovering a few feet above the waves and the sprays, depict the extraordinary Benetti FB 218. She is a 164' steel semi-displacement yacht, with the classically raked aft transom, molded aft swimming platform and four decks. She is powered by two MTU 12V396 TE 94 engines; each engine produces 2,262 hp and propels the 325-ton yacht at a maximum speed of 18 knots.
Sixty men worked at her construction every day for 24 months for a timely delivery. Even though the owner has classical tastes, hi-tech solutions were applied during her construction. the yacht was fitted with a helicopter landing platform on the sun-deck, a futuristic fire-fighting system capable of controlling all interior spaces - including the engine room and the aft garage - and a 24-hour machinery monitoring system. Mahogany, marbles, golden accessories: Naval Architect François Zuretti successfully designed her interiors so as to perfectly meet the refined taste and top quality requirements of her owner.
The interior construction material is mahogany lighted up by bright upholstery; carpet and floor covering are in light ivory color; all internal doors have rounded top and golden knobs, screws and locks; all bathrooms are in marble with different veins and colors and they have golden taps and fittings. Decks are covered by 1300 selected top-quality Burma teak staves. Actually, a complete description of this Queen of the Seas is impossible in this short article, for much more space is needed.
We let the reader fly with his own imagination by describing just the nicest aspects of this beautiful yacht. The sundeck is fitted with a Jacuzzi whirlpool and a bar with dumb-waiter. In the upper deck, there is the salon with four extraordinary crystal pyramids displaying valuable objects collected by the owner. Two sliding electrical doors are separate it from the dinette that is fitted with a beautiful 10- seat oval marble and crystal table.
Two maps of the Old and New World obtained from the original map displayed at the London Stanford Museum are inscribed in the two sliding doors. The ample spaces on this deck were obtained extending the deckhouse to the sides of the vessel. The helm station, fitted with hi-tech navigation and machinery instruments, is in mahogany with dark leather finishing. Access to a forward panoramic area is possible from the helm station.
This area is fitted with a C-shaped settee and a round table standing over a beautiful wind-rose created by alternating light and dark teak panels. The plush enclosed area is decorated with black Porotoro and red Alicante marbles and includes the luxury mahogany staircase connecting the three decks. Access to the master suite is from the lobby. The suite surface extends throughout the deck beam and includes a private office, a stateroom, two walk-in closets/cabins directly connected to a roomy bathroom with central Jacuzzi tub and a king-size shower with Turkish-bath like system. As far as weight is concerned, the 3,228-square foot surface of valuable marble used on board is 5/16" thick and is laid over a honeycomb structure to have lightweight furnishing.
The lower deck layout includes two forward guest staterooms with twin beds and two aft guest staterooms with queen-size beds. All cabins are very comfortable and plush, with a tasteful combination of textiles and finishing materials. Crew quarters were intended to offer a comfortable arrangement for 11 crewmembers. The owner's attention greatly concentrated on their comfort. All cabins are fitted with toilet and shower, the dinette is ample and bright, service equipment is extremely practical and of extra size.
The engine room, with the two MTU propelling units and two 125-kW generating sets, is fitted with a monitoring system provided with a color and touch-type screen. The service station aft includes the fire-fighting "high-fog" plant, with 12 big bottles - 3 of which are nitrogen bottles - capable of controlling a fire anywhere onboard. The big aft hatch perfectly integrates in the hull design and facilitates boarding. The transom garage contains all technical and marine equipment, scuba-diving equipment, a 20' tender and, depending on sea conditions, two personal watercrafts that are usually fitted forward.
The FB 218 is ready to sail but the legend of the Benetti yard continues and dreams become reality. Today, on a hot summer day in the beginning of August, as I am writing these notes on the Golden Bay, the brand-new 177' steel yacht FB 219 is launched in the stretch of water in front of Viareggio and the new covered dock is inaugurated. This new dry-dock - with programmed water filling - will allow the materialization of the Benetti yard's ambitions and challenges: to design and build new and bigger models with maximum length of 230 feet.
The legend continues.
TECHNICAL DATABuilder: Benetti; 55049 Viareggio (Lucca, Italy); via Michele Coppino 104; tel. +39-584-3821; fax +39-584-396232 (Azimut, 10051 Avigliana (Turin, Italy), viale dei Mareschi 14; tel. +30-11-9367271; fax +39-11-9367270)
Draft: 8'2"- Full load displacement: 330 tons
Fuel capacity: 15,060 gallons
Spare fuel capacity: 2,114 gallons
Freshwater capacity: 3,170 gallons
Power: 2x2,262 HP MTU 12V 396TE94 -Maximum speed: 18.1 knots
Range at 12-knot cruising speed: 3,400 miles
Classification: American Bureau of Shipping - Maltese Cross A1 - AMS.