Hugo Verlinden bought his first Sanlorenzo, a 60-foot plywood boat, in 1978. It was close to the shipyard’s size limit at the time, so when he was ready for a larger boat, he had no choice but to look elsewhere. He eventually built two yachts with the Italian yard’s Dutch rival Heesen—all the more reason why his return to Sanlorenzo after nearly four decades was a cause for celebration.
“After 39 years, we’re back!” exclaimed Verlinden, punching the air at the Seven Sins launch ceremony in La Spezia. The announcement earned him a cheer from the guests on the dock, who included the workforce responsible for building the 170-foot (52-meter) displacement yacht.
It was a reunion that almost didn’t happen. Verlinden stepped in only after the original buyer for the first 52Steel pulled out a year from delivery. A shrewd negotiator who has grown his family-owned insurance business into an international concern, the Belgian requested no fewer than 72 changes to the original specifications before signing on the dotted line.
In terms of general concept, however, the 52Steel ticked all the right boxes as a family cruiser and commercial charter vessel in a stylish, sub-500-gross-ton package. The yacht continues Sanlorenzo’s evolution of metal superyachts beyond the 40Alloy, 46Steel and 460Exp (a 64Steel is also in build). For the 52Steel, the shipyard worked with Mauro Micheli and Sergio Beretta of Officina Italiana Design, best known for designing the current Riva range.
“We took as our starting point the in-house Sanlorenzo style, but we were given a blank sheet to create a totally new design,” Micheli says. “The shipyard wanted clean, balanced styling that would remain relevant over time, which chimes perfectly with our own design philosophy. The result, inside and out, is discreetly contemporary design without superfluous or frivolous additions.”
Micheli points to the soberly elegant lines that integrate the deck levels, and the full-height glazing in the main and upper deck salons with cutaways in the side bulwarks for unimpeded sea views while seated. The yacht is conceived with alfresco living in mind, so in addition to the customary social areas on the aft decks, there is lounging space and a dinette forward on the upper deck. Under the shade of the hardtop on the sundeck are lounge chairs, dining and a bar served by a dumbwaiter from the galley. There is also an exterior helm station—unusual on a yacht of this size and one of the many change orders requested by the owner, who likes to drive the yacht himself.
The standout design feature is arguably the drive-in tender garage that Sanlorenzo engineered. It transforms into a beach club with a full-beam gym, sauna and steam room. When the louvered transom door is raised and the 26-foot (7.9-meter) tender is floated out, a teak-soled platform lowers from the ceiling to cover the bay, and two lateral shell doors in the hull can lower to extend the waterfront real estate. More natural light filters through the glass-bottomed swimming pool on the main deck above. (The crew tender and water toys are housed in a side-loading garage forward.)
“I think Seven Sins is the only yacht of her size with a 15-foot pool equipped with active current for swimming,” Micheli says. “Most beach clubs can be quite cavernous places, but the skylights and three deployable platforms turn the space on this yacht into a light-filled saloon pied dans l’eau.”
Chartering was a priority for Verlinden from the start. He shared ownership of his previous yachts with friends to allay the running costs. With Seven Sins, he included four partners while retaining a majority share. Fractional ownership has met with limited success in the yachting world, but Verlinden’s approach makes sound business sense for a yacht also destined for charter. His first rule is that the partners do not use the yacht during the peak charter season; the second is that if they have booked a week on board and a charter party wants the same slot, they change their own dates or pay the full charter rate.
“The arrangement was based on a handshake, which is much better than hiring lawyers to draw up a long contract,” says Verlinden, who oversees the bookkeeping himself. “The trick is then to be able to look your partners in the eyes and still be friends 10 years down the line.”
Seven Sins’ general arrangement is designed to maximize her charter flexibility. In addition to the full-beam owner’s suite and office forward on the main deck, there are two VIP staterooms, two twins (one with beds that convert to doubles) on the lower deck and an upper-deck staff cabin abaft the wheelhouse. A formal dining room is rarely used on any yacht, so it was relocated from the traditional location in the main salon to the upper deck, with another table for a full complement of guests on the open aft deck.
The palette of materials for the interior décor, also by Officina Italiana Design, is effortlessly stylish. American oak joinery with five different finishes is used alongside Carrara marble, white onyx, bronzed mirror surfaces and polished stainless steel detailing, along with freestanding furniture and accessories by Minotti, Flexform, Gae Aulenti and Paola Lenti, creating an overall effect that is calmly reassuring.
From an operational perspective, an under-lower deck—another rare feature for a yacht this size—provides direct access from the crew quarters or engine room to the stabilizer compartments. A dedicated laundry room and additional cold stowage are on the same level.
“Operational efficiency is something we take seriously, and the under-lower deck is a signature feature we’ve carried over from the 46Steel and 46Explorer,” says Antonio Santella, Sanlorenzo’s vice president of sales and marketing. “It allows the crew to go about their work discreetly without disturbing the guests.”
As a seasoned yacht owner, Verlinden has had his share of ups and downs, but now in his mid-70s, his enthusiasm for yachting shows no sign of letting up. At the launch of Seven Sins, he was excited to take delivery of a new yacht that also takes Sanlorenzo into larger-superyacht territory.
“A holiday afloat is something you never forget, and I have friends who, 20 years later, still remember it as the best vacation of their lives,” he says. “That human experience is beyond monetary value.”
For more information: sanlorenzoamericas.com