Benetti Motopanfilo 37M: Floating in Time
Inspired by nautical traditions and the romance of life at sea, Benetti turns back time with the Motopanfilo 37M. By Risa Merl.
The Motopanfilo 37M is Benetti’s newest Class yacht
In a time when everything seems to run at a hectic pace, Benetti has embraced the idea of slowing down with its new Motopanfilo 37M motor yacht. Not in terms of speed, mind you – she cruises at a respectable 15 knots – but in terms of style.
Debuting at the Cannes Yachting Festival last September, the new 37m ‘Class’ model from Benetti takes inspiration from the Italian shipyard’s glamorous navettas of the 1960s and ’70s, which were loved by royalty and rock stars alike. As such, the starting point for Motopanfilo 37M was the desire to reinterpret the traditional features of iconic Benetti styling in the name of new classicism.
Francesco Struglia designed the exterior
“The brief was to conceive a new yacht that would incorporate the characteristics of Benetti motor yachts from the 1960s,” says Francesco Struglia, who studied the evolution of the lines of the builder’s models from this period to create the Motopanfilo 37M’s distinct exterior.
“I liked the clean shapes of that time when the phase of pushed fibreglass began. The yachts were shaped with enormous charm because they were the result of experience, accumulated over the years, in solving certain construction problems. They told a story full of value and meaning. Hence the idea to start from ultra-clean shapes, free from the ostentation that has piled up over the years.”
The exterior was inspired by 1960s navettas
CURVES AND WINDOWS
Struglia captures this by creating an exterior with balanced proportions and continuity between the hull and superstructure, which are connected by an angled piece of fibreglass set amidships that defines the profile. Classic fashion plates are interpreted in a new way, with a bronze piece running along the handrails, up the angled fibreglass and onto the ceiling of the aft deck overhang.
The stern, Struglia says, is a modern reinterpretation of a classic round stern. The Motopanfilo does not have a canoe stern, but she does possess generous curves that give a nod to this styling.
The iconic beach club with cabana
“The reinterpretation of the round stern required an in-depth study and is paradoxically the most modern element of the entire concept,” says Struglia, who was also inspired by automotive design. “Owners who appreciate a certain type of car will immediately recognise elements that refer to Bentley and Rolls-Royce.”
An element that separates the Motopanfilo 37M from Benettis of the past is the overall volume, as today’s yachts are much roomier. Struglia was challenged to play with the yacht’s volumes while staying under 300GT.
Covered aft deck on the upper deck
To balance the increased volume with elegant, classic lines, Struglia lengthened the forward hull windows, so they almost reach the bow’s apex. Furthermore, as today’s owners demand large windows, expansive glazing dominates the main and upper decks.
Once onboard, there’s a clear sensation of being in close contact with the sea thanks to these massive windows, which due to modern R&D in glass construction, is another design element that separates the yacht from Benettis of yesteryear.
For the interior design, Lazzarini Pickering Architetti was tasked with creating living areas recalling nautical traditions.
Lazzarini Pickering Architetti handled the interior
It wasn’t the first time that the Rome-based design duo had worked with Benetti on an interpretation of the past, having worked on the 52m Sai Ram launched in 2004 – “one of the first superyachts to offer contemporary interiors in a style dominated by the classic”, according to Carl Pickering.
For the Motopanfilo 37M, the emphasis was on creating a boat that feels like a boat, not an apartment at sea.
Aft view of main-deck saloon shows the ‘ribs’
“The interior design had to embody the elegance of classic motor yachts, seen through a contemporary lens,” Pickering says. “Benetti wanted to re-propose the dream of a past that regales us with nautical stories and myths, moving away from the trending approach in modern yacht design, which is to build boats that are like villas on the water.”
To bring in classic nautical elements, Lazzarini Pickering looked at architectural features reminiscent of the past, like beams that could physically extend the lines of sight. Curved beams run up along the ceiling along the yacht’s width on each deck.
The master suite is forward on the main deck
In the saloon, white lacquered beams run across the wood ceilings, while this pattern is transposed on the upper and lower decks, where wooden beams are situated on white ceilings. Pickering has described the feeling created by these beams, or ribs, as “standing inside the belly of a whale”.
Portlight-shaped lighting fixtures add to the feeling of nautical heritage, as does the white leather cladded mast feature in the central staircase that runs from the lower to upper deck and is designed to look like a mast that would be seen in a sailing superyacht.
The lounge on the upper deck
Design motifs of the 1960s and ’70s are seen in the use of mirrored surfaces and rounded furnishings, like the curved sofas in the main saloon, which Pickering says encourage conversation and relaxed living. Mirrors are used skilfully to expand the space, such as those set into the window frames, effectively reflecting the sea and sky and opening the space further.
The interior materials are otherwise kept simple, with light woods, white leather and neutral-coloured soft goods, all conceived to highlight the yacht’s architectural lines. It’s a subdued sort of glamour, not one overly busy with crystals or gold.
VIP cabin on the lower deck
“We believe that nowadays true elegance is not the sum of details such as golden taps but comes from a feeling you can convey by giving the space a certain structure,” Pickering says.
All fabrics on board are by Loro Piana Interiors and the saloon is adorned in outdoor-grade soft goods to encourage the space to be lived in all day, even in a damp bathing suit after splashing in the sea.
ON DECK AND ON TOP
Outdoor living was a major focus of the design, and there are myriad places to enjoy life alfresco including the spacious sun deck and bow lounge, both of which can have spa pools.
A spa pool in the bow of the upper deck
The beach club captures the feel of a classic beach cabana with a collapsible, accordion-style bimini top that protects the swim platform from the sun and adds an element of privacy.
A noteworthy bonus area for outdoor living is the observation deck, set just above the sun deck. “Built around the central mast, this space would have been a small flybridge [on classic yachts], designed to accommodate a small group of guests,” Struglia says.
“On the Motopanfilo 37M, it takes a whole new shape. It’s an intimate retreat, designed for two people to relax. Here, privacy is absolute.”
It might not be impossible to stop time entirely, but with the Motopanfilo 37M, it’s possible to suspend it at least and enjoy a different style of yachting, as Pickering attests.
The private observation deck on top of the sun deck
“By creating a yacht suspended in time, inspired by 1960s glamour, we brought back to life a story full of charm when the large pleasure boats of the time were the object of desire.”
Benetti’s new Motopanfilo 37M has already proven to be popular, with at least four hulls sold so far, proving there is taste in the market for a classic-contemporary yacht that celebrates the glamorous history of yachting without denying owners any of the modern comforts expected today.
Italy’s Azimut-Benetti Group has topped the Global Order Book for superyachts for the 22nd successive year, ahead of fellow Italian yard Sanlorenzo and Taiwan’s Ocean Alexander.