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January 2004

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news



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Article by Carlo Nuvolari Duodo (Nuvolari - Lenard Naval Design)


Concept and style: Nuvolari & Lenard
Naval architecture: Ron Holland
Built by: Perini Navi

"Felicità West" was built for an Englishman who had formerly possessed a large sailing yacht. He now wished to set an important milestone in the field of great sailing craft, but also to own a yacht big enough for long periods aboard with his fairly numerous family. Our brief was to succeed in designing a really big boat that had strong character and timeless lines but didn't look like a ship.

While we at Nuvolari & Lenard got busy with the general concept, putting the first drawings together, racing hull expert Ron Holland was called in to design the bottom and the sail plan.

It immediately became clear that it would be no easy task to avoid making a 64-metre yacht with 12-metre beam resemble the "Amerigo Vespucci". So we went for a design with the deckhouse on one level only (illustration with white scale model), convinced that by keeping the boat low we would obviously give her a more thrusting appearance.

But something still wasn't right: the boat lacked interest, it had an almost banal look about it. So we suggested a deckhouse with the wheelhouse raised half a level, thus gaining among other things more privacy for the skipper and a marvellous dining room forward with a view.

The owner was enthusiastic. Though the yacht was taller it was far better proportioned, more aggressive and in the end more thrusting.

One detail dominates Felicità West's layout: the boat "wastes" space and is therefore extremely distinguished, one might say aristocratic. The wide gangways are perceived as the deck and not as passageways at the sides of a deckhouse. The dizzy soaring in the progression of bows and stern seems to further elongate an already very long vessel. The deckhouse was designed to taper upwards, a solution that minimises perception of its volume. On the basis of these ideas a scale model was made which, long before Perini Navi started building the boat in Viareggio, was a permanent feature in the customer's office.

As far as the colour blue is concerned, we tried out a couple of solutions (blue rendering) but against our will, because we've always believed that colouring a hull is almost like attempting to hide a problem of proportions - dark colours are slimming - and since we were already trying out colour in the initial phase, when there was an evident problem of proportions, we didn't want to admit to resorting to such a cover-up right from the start.

I don't mean by this that colouring a hull is always a bad thing. What we wanted was simply to get the right lines and then maybe decide to use colour. In the end we chose white, also for obvious technical reasons: such an area of blue would have resulted in the hull absorbing considerably more heat.


For the interior there were clear ideas right from the word go: a relaxed atmosphere combined with a typical sailing yacht interior. Any stylistic intervention with a minimalist or sophisticated effect would have been out of place. On the other hand the real focal point of the boat is provided by the enormous windows that bring the outside view aboard. So a revisited classic was envisaged, a style made up of profiles, solid wood and frames, fairly modern if examined individually but with an overall impression of the classic (rendering of solid wood). Mahogany was suggested at first but was immediately rejected as too dark and the choice went to cherry, much warmer in natural light. There were supposed to be dark details in walnut for some of the furniture, (view of frontal rendering of bed) but after making a model of one of the cabins everything looked suitably rich and complete just as it was and the idea of adding any further interior embellishment was abandoned.

We'd done a huge amount of work and visited boatyards all over Europe, but nothing had actually been built. We were getting nervous since we would still have to spend a lot of time designing innumerable details during building: the exterior, the enormous cockpit and the huge flying bridge whose design never seemed finished.

But in the end we were overcome with emotion, like everyone else involved, on seeing the boat in the water in Viareggio immediately after her launching and that summer when the Felicità West came to our city, Venice: seeing her there in front of Sr. Mark's had quite an effect, I can assure you.