The Ferretti 960, the first new model since the company’s reorganization, reflects traditional values and a refreshing new attitude.
By Capt. Richard Thiel
Back in the boom days, the introduction of a new boat by the Ferretti Group was a singular event. A typical press conference began at least a half-hour late and ran at least a half-hour over, and in between there was a lot of hype and plenty of splashy video, but not a lot of substantive information about the boat. If you were a marine journalist looking to do a story on the new launch, you usually had to wait until the hoo-hah died down and then try to corner an engineer—if you could find one amid all the marketing and sales types.
The press conference the Ferretti Group held in Santa Margherita, Italy, in June to introduce the largest Ferretti ever, the 960, was precisely the opposite. It started on time, and after a short introduction that presented the company’s views on various world markets, it got right to the boat. An hour later, I had amassed six pages of notes that were so comprehensive, I could almost have written a review without having stepped aboard. But I also got a two-hour run down the coast to La Spezia, accompanied by two project managers who made themselves available to answer any questions. It was a journalist’s wish come true.
The contrast is telling because it illustrates how much has changed at the builder. There’s a new attitude, one born in the cauldron of near financial collapse, and then redemption when the Chinese investment giant Weichai Group took a 75 percent stake. Today the Ferretti Group is not only on solid financial ground, it’s smarter, more focused and all about the business at hand—building boats. The question nagging me as I left the presentation and headed for the boat was whether the 960 reflected this newfound maturity.
Ferretti engineers certainly started right by establishing clear design goals for the 960 from the very beginning. The most basic one was to create a yacht small enough to be classed by CE as a pleasure boat, meaning a crew would not be mandated, yet offer features that would allow it to compete with vessels larger than 100 feet. These offerings include a master stateroom forward on the main deck, four guest cabins of nearly identical size and expansive outdoor areas both up top and aft that are entirely devoted to relaxation and leisure.
The first step in executing this brief was to begin with a proven hull, the same used by the Ferretti 881. Not only did this save time and money, it ensured success for, after some 56 launches, the design has proven itself. The basic hull measures 78 feet 8 inches (24 meters) from the forward collision bulkhead to the aft engine room bulkhead. Forward and aft of it, all is new and stretches to 78 feet 7 inches (23.98 meters)—just under the 24-meter CE limit. The engine room is a bit smaller, as Ferretti eliminated the familiar separate engineering room to accommodate the new garage.
And what a garage it is. The aft door features a series of sun pads, which turn it into a chaise lounge with a lovely view of the water. Press a button to open this door, then press another to lower the swim platform to half-depth, creating a bathing platform with easy access to the water. Since the platform module includes the aft garage bulkhead, water automatically enters as it lowers, until the garage is partially flooded. Press another button, and the swim platform lowers to full depth and the garage sole/tender cradle tilts sufficiently to allow the tender, a Williams 455 jet, to float off easily, assisted by a winching system. Once the tender has been retrieved and stowed, the swim platform and garage door are in place and the vessel gets under way, gravity causes the water to empty automatically via four flapper valves—no pumps required.
When this was explained at the press conference, I was less than enthralled at the thought of water entering an interior compartment of the boat, no matter how well engineered it may be. My fears eased, however, when it was explained to me that the hull actually stops at the aft engine bulkhead, which is watertight; the garage is an entirely separate, self-contained module. A manual hydraulic pump is included to elevate the swim platform to the sunning position should the primary electrical system fail.
When one of the engineers put it through all of its various positions, I was completely won over. It is the coolest garage and tender system I’ve ever seen on a boat smaller than 100 feet. But then, that’s the whole motivation behind the 960: to include features normally found only in a boat 10 to 15 feet longer.
The garage is clearly the star of this show, but the 960 sports plenty of other appealing, if not so revolutionary, features. At 29 feet 6 inches (9 meters) long, the bridge deck’s proportions are again what you’d expect on a much larger boat. The principal tender stowage is, of course, in the garage, but PWC stowage and an attending crane can be fitted without intruding into the sun lounge area. (There’s a foredeck sun lounge as well.) Those not so focused on acquiring a tan will opt for a spot at the 10-person sofa, which is shaded by the standard hardtop. A separate service area here includes a standard wet bar and electric grill, while a hot tub, not on our test boat, is an option. All the way forward there’s plenty of seating for those who want to keep the captain company at his portside station.
The salon is just 6 feet 6 inches (2 meters) shorter than the bridge and includes a separate forward dining area occupied by an impressive Bonaldo glass-top table (extendable to accommodate 12). This area, and indeed the entire salon, is bathed in light thanks to sole-to-overhead windows that also provide lovely water views, especially amidships where Ferretti cut down the gunwales—although not enough to compromise security. The principal salon furniture is facing lounges, creating what Ferretti calls “a lobby area.” While the arrangement certainly invites conviviality, I felt that it inhibited traffic flow for anyone entering from the cockpit. A fully equipped bar resides in the aft port corner, easily accessible from the 14-foot 10-inch-long (4.5-meter) cockpit.
The galley is forward, along the port side, and in true big-yacht fashion is directly connected to the crew quarters, which are down and fully forward, so that the owner and guests need not be disturbed during food prep. Besides direct access to the dining area and salon, the galley also opens onto the portside deck, a convenience for both guests and crew. On the starboard side directly opposite, a companionway provides access first to the pilothouse and, farther forward, to the large master stateroom, which Ferretti acoustically insulated from the galley by a series of multi-layer composite bulkheads.
Guests access the four guest cabins on the lower deck via a lobby that is also reached from the starboard side. While virtually identical in size, there are two layouts: The two forward cabins have single berths that can slide together to form doubles, while the two aft cabins have conventional queen-size beds. Here, too, Ferretti employed multi-layer bulkheads to reduce the transference of sound.
Ferretti has always taken justifiable pride in the design of its engine rooms and, despite the elided engineering room, the 960’s is a fine example. Immediately noticeable is the wide space (3 feet 7 inches) between the engines, which allows each genset to be moved aft from forward of each main to below the overhead soft patches that allow them and the engines to be removed for major work. Each engine offers up 360-degree access, and since the standard ARG gyro is below the centerline catwalk, it doesn’t intrude into the machinery spaces as was the case in some previous installations.
Three variations of the MTU 16V 2000 are offered: 2,218, 2,435 and 2,638 horsepower. Our boat was equipped with the latter, which Ferretti expects to be the overwhelming favorite. With nine people and 890 gallons (3,370 liters) of fuel aboard, they produced a top speed of 31.7 knots at 2,450 rpm, exceeding the builder’s prediction by .7 knots. On two more practical notes, 1,800 rpm yielded 21.6 knots while burning 131 gallons per hour (495 liters per hour), and 2,000 rpm produced 25.6 knots with a fuel burn of 165 gallons per hour (625 liters per hour). Sound levels were impressively low: at 2,000 rpm, 66 decibels in the pilothouse, 75 decibels in the salon and just 66 decibels in the master, thanks in part, no doubt, to those acoustical bulkheads.
Despite following seas running to four feet and occasional squalls, the passage from Santa Margherita to La Spezia provided no real challenge to the 960. Even with swells on the aft starboard quarter the autopilot never had to tax itself, and, when it wasn’t raining, the windshield remained dry even as the wind shifted. All in all, it was a solid performance from a veteran hull.
While fresh and innovative, the 960 retains all the qualities that have made Ferretti successful, including top-notch engineering, excellent build quality and admirable performance. And just as the engineers and designers intended, it has the look, feel and amenities of a much larger boat. As the first product of Ferretti’s new era, the 960 promises good things for the future.
For more information:ferretti-yachts.com
LOA: 95ft. 10in. (29.2m)
LWL: 73ft. 4in. (22.34m)
Beam: 22ft. 1in. (6.72m)
Draft: 7ft. 3in. (2.2m)
Displacement (full load): 218,258 lbs.
Engines (standard): 2 x MTU 16V 2000 M84, 2,218 mhp at 2,450 rpm
Fuel: 890 gal. (3,370L)
Speed (max.): 27.5 knots
Speed (cruising): 24 knots
Range: 300 nm @ 27.5 knots
Freshwater: 349 gal. (1,320L)
Classification: B + F + Aa (Sound Emission) - RINA
Naval architecture: Advanced Yacht Technology, Ferretti Group Engineering
Exterior styling: Zuccon International Project
Interior design: Zuccon International Project
Guest cabins: 5
Builder: Ferretti Yachts