Benetti and the owner of 11.11 have created a striking boat with stunning design features, but as with many things, beauty also comes from unexpected places. Personality can make all the difference, and 11.11 has this in spades.
A unique and key aspect of this yacht is that she changed hands before her launch, and took on a new life with just 10 months to go before she was due to leave her Italian shipyard. The new owner burst onto the scene with a vitality that comes from being part of a design dynasty, and worked tirelessly with his team to change and reshape an unloved project into his idea of a floating paradise. And this adventure shines through in every detail, every design feature, and every little object d’art lovingly placed on board.
Named in honour of the owner’s very young daughter, 11.11 is a true family yacht. “It feels very different to many boats,” explains the owner, himself an experienced yacht owner. “Especially when you see my daughter’s cot. It’s actually the same cot that she has in our homes in LA and in London, so she doesn’t feel any different when she comes here.” The stylish cot is not hidden away in a cabin on the lower deck, instead it occupies pride of place in a little ante-chamber leading to the owner’s suite on the upper deck.
This space enjoys spectacular 180 degree views forward, and has its own private foredeck and Jacuzzi. Similarly decorated to be in keeping with the rest of the yacht’s art deco theme, it feels modern and fresh. An enormous bathroom with custom Lalique taps and his’n’hers dressing rooms with shagreen elements complete the space.
On the main deck is a VIP cabin that is easily mistaken for an owner’s suite. Enjoying the forward part of the main deck, huge windows fill the space with natural light and the full beam width is an added bonus. The main deck salon is a formal room with a beautiful backlit onyx dining table, but there is plenty of scope for relaxing here: a huge curved television turns this space into a cosy cinema room.
The upper deck is the most used salon on board, and comes with inviting sofas and a private office next door. Below deck, there are an additional four guest cabins, all individually decorated.
Something about the design on board feels immediately homely when you walk around, but it’s initially hard to place quite what it is. The Art Deco theme is present and beautifully executed, with polished stainless steel inlays in the wood panels and custom chandeliers, but there is another element that makes 11.11 feel special, and not like a purpose-built charter yacht: there are no hard edges. The sofas, the low coffee tables, everything is protected by rounded corners and tactile custom fabrics.
“Everything has been done softly,” explains the owner. “On my old boats, you could often hurt yourself as an adult bumping into things, so I couldn’t have that with my daughter around. She loves all the soft corners as she can safely jump around, and our dog also comes on the boat, so it’s been great in that respect.”
Although a significant amount of thought has gone in to creating an environment safe for a baby, it doesn’t feel as if anything has been compromised for adult enjoyment. The interior is grown up and contemporary, and there are as many pictures of the owner and his friends enjoying lavish parties as there are pictures of his daughter’s milestones.
“We’ll use the boat for cruising with family and inviting friends and clients. For the right people, we will do a bit of charter. We’ll be very selective though, because it is my family boat, and I don’t want the wrong type of person on board.”
This is understandable, as this superyacht has to be one of the most decorated on the seas. Meticulously placed limited edition coffee table books, opulent scented candles, ornate photo frames and precious trinkets adorn the surfaces and shelves, and suffuse the space with a familial warmth.
Alongside family photos is enough art work to make a London art gallery balk. All commissioned specifically for the yacht, of course. ‘Move me’ is a custom turquoise neon wall sign by Tracey Emin, a personal friend of the owner. “‘Move me’ has a level of passion, I thought it was perfect for a boat… romantic, and has lots of different connotations. Neon and water is a very sexy combination,” says Emin.
There are also two Hans Kotter digital pieces in the main and bridge deck lobbies, which glow and flicker with changing neon shades reflected in the mirrors and polished stainless steel throughout the rest of the yacht, giving the spaces a vaguely psychedelic feel, most noticeably at night. A favourite artwork on board is the interactive ‘Butterflies’ by Dominic Harris, a framed wall of multicolour butterflies that flutter around when they detect movement nearby.
Competing with the literal art on board is the interior design by the owner and his team. “We went to the Italian quarries and chose the bespoke piece of marble we wanted, the exact vein, and every piece of fabric and textile you see, we were involved in,” he explains. “The wood is the only remainder of the previous project, everything else is brand new. We did change the wood a little, we added all the silver art deco inlaid stripes. That was an extra 60,000 euros, I remember that bill!”
The history behind the yacht is a fascinating tale of what can be done with a half finished project. You would never know today that 11.11 wasn’t always exactly as she was intended to be. There is certainly no shame in having picked up the project, in fact, it proves just how much can be done with a design team and yard working together, and is testament to the passion, skill and hard work of those involved.
“We spent 10 months doing the changes, it was absolutely mad,” explains the owner. “I was actively looking for a boat, and I’d been speaking to Benetti for a while. This was top of my list, I had been to see a couple of other yards, but no one could deliver something in under a year. It’s an issue for some owners, if you want to build bigger than 60-metres today, you’re looking at a minimum of three years.”
Whilst it is fairly common for yachts to be sold or change hands midway through a project, it is rare to have an owner so involved in the process.
“Right from the start, I knew I wanted to be hands on,” he explains. “And I was. Annoyingly so! I had a whole team down in Benetti the entire time. The biggest designers’ problem was the sundeck, because it had a very small Jacuzzi and they weren’t making the most of all the available space. We do have the whole bow and foredeck with a private Jacuzzi for the owner’s cabin, but the one up top wasn’t big enough. I wanted everyone to have plenty of space to swim and lounge so we pushed it further aft and surrounded it with sun pads. We had to build the balustrades up a bit and we did various other changes as well as some regulatory stuff. We also removed the gym and put in a small pantry, which is also now my daughter’s tea time kitchenette. The sundeck is where we spend most of our time during the day. ”
The owner has focused on practicality as well as aesthetic with his modifications. “The other big change was the garage area. I wanted a limo tender. At events like the Cannes Film Festival, it’s crazy, the ladies have their hair and make up done and get ready for an hour or two, and then it all gets ruined in about 30 seconds in a normal tender. You just think, ‘what did I just spend the last two hours doing,’ so that obviously needed to be changed. The previous owners had put a Rolls-Royce Phantom in the garage with a huge crane, and I just didn’t think I needed all that. Before we’d even finalised the contract, it was in there that we wanted a limo tender. We’re actually the first people to do a limo tender at Benetti and build it there. I wanted it to look like the boat, it’s a mini 11.11.”
Practicality aside, it was also important to create a yacht built for fun. “We put a bar on every level!” laughs the owner. “Overall we’re really happy with what we’ve achieved. We did a lot. One of the most memorable parts for me was the launch. I went with my wife, and Benetti had a Roman Catholic priest bless the yacht. It was very beautiful with all the Italian music and then the British national anthem, and it was all very unexpected. I thought I was just going to be putting the boat in the water, but in fact it turned into a very emotional day!”
11.11 is without question a yacht full of surprises. Her axe bow moves away from standard Benetti design and her past is a tale of two histories, but these attributes merely add to the finished product: the flashes of passion are signs of the determination to keep to a tight schedule, and the distinctive designs are key to creating a personalised yacht for a discerning owner. It cannot be said this yacht comes without personality. If you were looking to place her on a scale, she would certainly score 11 out of 11.
This article appeared in SuperYacht World Issue 49 May/June 16.
Photos: Jeff Brown / Breed Media.