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Audace—Italian for audacious—is not what most would call a pretty boat. With five decks including a tank deck, she sits high in the water for a 140-footer (42.8-meter), and her chunky profile appears to be a touch top-heavy.

But aesthetics were never a priority for her owner, who was far more interested in the practicalities of building a yacht that would be his floating home for much of the year.


“Most yachts are designed for people who might spend two or three weeks on board each year, but my situation is very different,” says Andrea Merloni, whose family founded the Indesit brand of appliances that is now part of Whirlpool. “Firstly, I wanted a real explorer, not a floating palace full of marble and gold taps. Secondly, I wanted the whole top deck—the only place you can have complete privacy—for my own use.”

On larger superyachts, the master stateroom is usually found on the main deck forward, or on the bridge deck. Merloni chose to have his stateroom almost 50 feet above the water based on the experience of his previous yacht, the 95-foot (29-meter) Inace A.B. Normal (which he named after a scene in the 1974 Mel Brooks movie “Young Frankenstein”). The only real privacy he had from crew and guests on that boat was in his lower-deck stateroom, which had portlights that he couldn’t open for fresh air. If he wanted to smoke, he had to use his bathroom.

“I needed a different boat with a different layout that separated the guest areas from my own accommodation,” he says. “My yacht is my home, and you don’t want people wandering all over your house.”

Merloni hooked up with Andrea Pezzini, director of Floating Life, a yacht brokerage and consulting agency based in Switzerland. Because Merloni wanted so many customizations, Pezzini proposed a custom build based on an existing 130-foot platform that Floating Life had developed for long-range cruising.

Cantiere delle Marche in Ancona, on Italy’s Adriatic coast, emerged as the strongest contender to build the yacht. Known for its rugged Darwin series of pocket explorers, the yard was looking to diversify into one-off projects. The clincher was probably the fact that Merloni had grown up in the region and raced motorbikes with the shipyard’s chairman.

Audace’s owner, Andrea Merloni.

Audace’s owner, Andrea Merloni.

A new construction shed was built to house the project. Keeping the five-decker below the 500-gross-ton threshold required widening side decks and introducing semi-open spaces to reduce the interior volume. The owner requested utilitarian exterior styling and practical interior design from the start; there are no sliding glass doors on board, for example. The shipyard also upgraded its welding process to reduce the amount of filler by as much as 80 percent. The hull is only lightly faired.

“She’s a spartan boat in many ways, but that’s exactly what the owner wanted,” says Ennio Cecchini, CEO of Cantiere delle Marche. “She is what she seems: a seaworthy explorer designed to be lived on with styling, engineering and a layout to match.”

The owner’s decision to reserve the top deck for himself, including an outdoor hot tub aft, affected the rest of the interior layout. The guest accommodations include two staterooms with fold-down terraces on the upper deck, and two staterooms on the main deck with doors that open onto the side decks. The owner’s deck, which can only be accessed by way of an internal staircase, is effectively excluded from the everyday circulation flow. It is even served by a separate dumb waiter and a compact galley of its own.

One of two lower-deck guest staterooms with a private balcony that folds out from the hull.

One of two lower-deck guest staterooms with a private balcony that folds out from the hull.

Merloni’s desire for privacy is not to be mistaken for a lack of conviviality. Audace spends much of her time anchored off Ibiza—the Spanish island best known for its summer club scene—and has huge party areas on board. Instead of the customary beach club, for example, the lower deck features a soundproof dance space with a bar and DJ system that opens onto the aft platform.

In addition, the owner has no use for formal spaces on board. Where the salon and dining room would usually be on a superyacht’s main deck, there is instead a semienclosed space for casual dining with a teppanyaki bar. And abaft the wheelhouse on the upper deck is a media room with a comfy chaise longue in front of a wide-screen TV, which the owner can enjoy alone or with company.

His former yacht had just one fridge/freezer, which made provisioning a daily necessity when guests were on board. Audace has a main galley by Marrone, the Italian kitchen manufacturer preferred by some world-class chefs, and is sized and outfitted to cater for more than 200 guests. There is also extra cold and dry stowage on the tank deck, as well as a laundry, a refrigerated garbage room and a climate-controlled wine cellar.

“There’s no point building a boat that can go around the world and living off tinned tuna,” Merloni quips.

Evidence of Audace’s true vocation as an explorer with a cruising range of 5,400 nautical miles includes the bright-red, 9-ton cranes on her fore and aft decks. These are used to launch a custom Land Rover Defender, a 1200cc off-road BMW motorbike, water toys and a 29-foot Sacs chase boat.

“On A.B. Normal, we towed the chase boat when it wasn’t being used, which could mean delaying our departure in rough seas,” the owner says. “A proper tender was absolutely essential, and I wanted the space to be able to carry it on deck during long transits. Whatever the weather.”

That’s not audacious at all. It’s just plain smart. 


LOA: 140ft. 5in. (42.8m)

BEAM: 30ft. 10in. (9.4m)

DRAFT (full load): 9ft. (2.75m)

CONSTRUCTION: steel and aluminum


SPEED (max./cruise): 15/10 knots

RANGE: 5,000nm at 10 knots

NAVAL ARCHITECTURE: Floating Life and Studio Sculli

EXTERIOR STYLING: Floating Life and Studio Sculli

INTERIOR DESIGN: Studio Sculli and Alessandra Negrato

BUILDER: Cantiere delle Marche

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