Northrop & Johnson Yacht Broker David Seal explores the beauty of the new WIDER 150 from the inside out.
There is nothing quite like a global financial crisis to shake things up and make us re-evaluate what we are doing and, more importantly, how we are doing it. This is glaringly obvious in the yacht building industry, which, in the last few years, has seen a host of famous brands disappear from sight or re-emerge having changed hands at a relatively low price.
That said, however, the finest diamonds are formed under the greatest pressure and the same demands that have crippled some builders have given birth to new brands that may otherwise never have seen the light of day. The premier example is Wider Yachts, located on the charming and rustic east coast of Italy. Here, in a purpose-built shipyard under the noses of some of yachting’s biggest brands, a 150-foot is being built that promises to remodel expectations and aspirations of many yacht owners.
Consider that the WIDER 150 is a motor yacht without an engine room — something achievable only because the yacht has no engines. On the surface, it may appear that there is a major flaw in this concept, but before dwelling upon the benefits of an engine room, think for a moment about the drawbacks. Most engine rooms are located amidships in the widest and most voluminous area of the hull. They take up valuable space that could otherwise be used for larger cabins, a bigger tender or both. In the case of the WIDER 150, not only are the guest cabins larger than on many other 150-foot yachts, but the reclaimed area is used to house a custom-built 32-foot tender, which offers classic looks, making it seem like it was designed for the movie “League of Gentlemen”. When the tender is launched, the transom’s rear and sides open up and the tender bay fills to create a splendid swimming pool/spa.
The yacht has a high plumb bow, but the bow’s height is far more than simply a design feature to add to the vessel’s visual impact. A high bow creates high bulwarks, and the high bulwarks in turn hide a superstructure that extends remarkably far forward, allowing for a palatial owner’s suite and bathroom on the main deck. All of this is done without spoiling the fluid lines of the vessel – yacht designer Fulvio di Simoni is renowned for this.
The upper deck also is remarkably well designed. The beam here actually is greater than the main deck, allowing for full walk-around decks and a surprisingly spacious skylounge. The aft deck on this level is spacious enough for a steel band and an entourage of Caribbean dancers, if that takes your fancy. Otherwise, guests simply can enjoy the vast deck space, which is refreshingly uncluttered by tenders and other watersports toys. Those all can be found in a reserved space below the main foredeck, where a boom crane can quickly launch them via a side-opening hatch.
For most yacht owners, deck space is as important, if not more important, than interior volume, and it is clear that Wider understands this. Tilli Antonelli, the founder and president of Wider, has worked closely with di Simoni to extend the sundeck as far aft as is aesthetically acceptable to maximize this area. Together they have equipped it with a well-proportioned Jacuzzi and a barbecue station. If this is not far enough from the steel band for your taste, a very generous seating area is carved into the superstructure and benefits from a custom-designed hydraulic sun awning.
The WIDER 150 will accommodate up to 10 guests in five exceptional staterooms, including an on-deck master suite that opens on to a terrace and four additional staterooms. Her interior will feature contemporary décor and chic lines.
Now to address the elephant in the room: the lack of engines. The WIDER 150 has a power generator room in the bow, where four variable-speed generators are mounted on silent blocks in a purpose-built suspension cage. The generators produce more than sufficient energy to power both the propulsion system and an entire hotel load. A thick cable leads to two banks of lithium polymer batteries and then on to the electric motors that run the pod propellers.
The WIDER 150 is likely to be branded with words like “innovative” and “cutting edge,” but the truth is that this impressive technology is already in use on submarines, military craft and commercial liners, all of which have been running on diesel electric for many years. What is innovative, however, is that Wider has taken the necessary steps to apply this proven technology to a 150-foot motor yacht, a fact made possible by the advancements in battery technology. Lithium polymer batteries are actually a small fraction of the weight of traditional gel batteries but are many times more powerful. The batteries’ warranties remain for a fixed number of cycles, corresponding to about 10 years of normal use.
Wider will launch the WIDER 150 summer 2015, and if the forecasts for her range and efficiency prove true, she could be the best thing to come out of the GFC yet.