Acres of glazing and a choice of layouts ensures the new Ferretti 780 has a truly global outlook, writes Alan Harper
Say what you like about globalisation but it has certainly made yacht design more challenging. This new Italian motor yacht, unveiled at a show in France with its pan-European layout, is also available in a specific US version, as well as with numerous standard modifications designed to make it appeal to buyers in the Far East.
Ferretti is well used to the demands of international commerce of course, and had a strong presence in markets around the world even before it was bought by the Weichai Group in 2012. But Europe remains its core territory, which was plain to see at the 2017 Cannes Yachting Festival when the new Ferretti 780 made its confident debut.
A long, comfortable deck saloon with low-profile furniture, brightly illuminated by giant windows, leads forward to an enclosed galley on the starboard side and a discreet wheelhouse. This is the European version. It’s all about the relationship between the owners, their guests and the crew – the captain and chef can get on with their work in peace, leaving those who have left their work ashore to relax in privacy.
The main deck layout on the US version reflects the more democratic attitude to boating that holds sway in the New World. Over there, husband-and-wife owners think nothing of managing a yacht of this size without a skipper, and this family focus is reflected in an open-plan ‘country kitchen’ galley arrangement which also opens up the helm area. In providing long, cockpit-to-windscreen sightlines, it’s an approach which makes the best of the saloon’s generous dimensions, and has much to recommend it.
They do things differently in the Far East, meanwhile. Here, the galley is installed below, the main deck is dominated by a huge, circular dining and games table, and sleeping accommodation on the lower deck plays second fiddle to a full-beam karaoke studio. Boating in those parts sounds like a lot of fun.
All versions of the 780 share certain basic characteristics. Ferretti is not a brand that is known for its attention-seeking design features, although in its quiet way, it has been responsible for a number of innovations that have become so ubiquitous, no one can now remember who first thought them up.
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Although nominally based on the earlier 750 model, the new Ferretti 780 has a completely new superstructure which features the giant main-deck windows that the shipyard did so much to popularise, along with an extended flybridge to shade the cockpit, and the foredeck seating area which has become an essential fixture of yachts this size.
A Kevlar-reinforced hardtop can be fitted as an option and the hydraulic aft platform has a 450kg lifting capacity. Two panels in the transom fold down to provide seating at the water’s edge. Good ensuite accommodation for two crew is fitted in the stern.
Having celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018, Ferretti Yachts has maintained its standards through thick and thin, and the Ferretti 780 exhibited at Cannes displayed the shipyard’s exemplary fit-out quality from engineroom to flybridge.
The interior decor comes with a choice of fabrics and finishes of course, and the European owner of this one had opted for an uber-luxury look with marble-clad bulkheads, much suede and lacquer in evidence, along with thick woollen carpets which contrasted with relatively sober walnut veneers.
Like all Ferrettis, the 780 is designed from the inside out as a spacious and comfortable home from home. The 6ft 4in (1.93m) headroom in the wheelhouse is as low as it goes, and even in the smallest guest cabin, the twin berth on the port side, the beds are a useful 6ft 3in long and 28in wide (190cmx71cm).
Layouts based on rational right-angles make the best possible use of the space available, and careful thought has been given to stowage volumes in the cabins. Careful thought has also been given to the yacht’s construction. Ferretti as a brand may stand for dependable solidity and tradition, but it still has to move with the times.
Resin infusion techniques are used for every glassfibre moulding, saving significant weight while also, in theory at least, creating better-quality laminates. The lower deck is constructed on a complex tray moulding, lending efficiencies to the boatbuilding process that translate into time and money saved – vital in a competitive global marketplace. From bucket of resin to completed yacht, a Ferretti 780 takes four months to assemble.
Installed technology is also at the cutting edge. A joint Simrad-Naviop integrated navigation and vessel-monitoring system was fitted to our test Ferretti 780, with three screens at the lower helm and two upstairs. Fly-by-wire electro-hydraulic steering marries the electronics at the helm with the hydraulics in the engineroom, which not only makes installation and maintenance simpler but also improves reliability.
It certainly works. Fitted with MAN’s dependable – almost industry-standard – 1,550hp V12s, the larger of two engine options available, our Ferretti 780 freed itself from the confines of Cannes’ Vieux Port with a joie de vivre that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago in a yacht of this size and displacement.
The main difference between engines of this generation and their forebears is not just in horsepower and its effect on top speed, but in how that power makes itself available. The tremendous torque of the 1550s translates into a truly involving driving experience in boats that ought to be as much fun to drive as buses.
From about 1,600rpm and up, the Ferretti 780 was a blast for the helmsman, with excellent acceleration and a helm response to match, heeling the big yacht into dramatic, sweeping turns which might not have actually been as tight as they seemed, but they were certainly fun.
The weight of that high hardtop definitely told in what we could find of a beam sea among the confusion of wakes in the bay – it might have high-tech reinforcement, but it’s still mainly fibreglass – as even with the Seakeeper engaged, the Ferretti 780 seemed quite willing to roll.
Charging head-on through the same waves, however, the moderate-vee hull flattened out the impacts with the solid authority of a comfortable cruising boat. There were no perceptible vibrations anywhere in the interior at any speed, and sound levels throughout were commendably low – just 66dB(A) in the master cabin at 20 knots. The Ferretti 780 felt solid.
That is what Ferretti has set out to achieve with its new flybridge yacht – a big, dependable cruising machine with the right combination of design, technology and home comforts, put together with reassuring solidity. Whichever layout you opt for, and wherever in the world you do your boating, that’s what it delivers.