Can a “nautical planning violation” really be turned into a yacht of enormous charm and character? The answer is a resounding yes. We’re talking, of course, about Audace, the Floating Life K42 penned by Mauro Sculli and built by Cantieri delle Marche.
“When I decided I wanted to live on a boat permanently and wanted to build myself a custom craft, I said to Andrea (Pezzini of Floating Life, ed.’s note) that I liked the idea of an explorer but I wanted an entire deck all to myself. It just didn’t make any sense to spend all that money to put the captain in the penthouse and then go and live in the basement”.
The words of Andrea Merloni, owner and creative driving force behind Audace, a one-off explorer with four rather than the conventional three decks, now better known as the “planning violation”. Being a creation of Andrea Pezzini, Audace also has a tank deck that is so large it is often used as a meeting room.
But Merloni still dug in his heels with regard to having a deck to himself. “On my previous boat, A.B. Normal (an Inace 95, ed.’s note), The only place I could get a bit of peace was in my cabin. And in all honesty, it seemed absurd to own a 40-metre yacht and then find yourself in a 15 square metre room with just a porthole to look out of”. Yacht architect and designer Mauro Sculli knows a thing or two about that.
“Adding a deck to a boat that imposing was no joke,” he explains. “To minimise its height, we focused on the beam, which being rather generous, streamlined the hull’s overall lines”.
Sculli is a modest chap but he was the one who designed the small but vital details that helped streamline that extra deck.
The windows are a different size on the so-called super upper deck while a black rather than white cover and aft bulwarks that gradually meld with the upper deck cleverly camouflage the “planning violation”, turning Audace into a sleek and very intriguing yacht.
Apart from an enormous fire engine red lifting davit aft and technical details such as life jackets and fire extinguishers left very deliberately visible, this yacht’s most striking feature is its layout.
Instead of the traditional saloon on the main deck, there are two cabins for Merloni’s closest friends. The dining and relaxation area are al fresco in the large aft cockpit which is also home to an enormous sun pad and can be enclosed and heated/air-conditioned.
Two further cabins, with fold-out balcony, are on the lower deck, just before the large multi-functional aft area which can be used for chilling out, dancing or hosting parties.
The upper deck has a cosy saloon with what Merloni refers to as a “veg out sofa”, a couple of retro armchairs by Baxter and a large screen TV. Last but very far from least, the infamous super upper deck houses Merloni’s private quarters which are off-limits to everyone but himself. In short, Audace is a yacht with different levels of access.
“Certainly. The layout is designed to provide plenty of space for guests. It has a large day guest area that is quite clearly defined while the onboard guest one is cosier and more intimate,” explains Andrea Merloni. “On my previous boat, I’d find people everywhere aboard. But here guests are all together and easier to handle. The upper deck is a completely separate chapter: it is for resident guests and is designed for the five or six pals I have aboard”.
A quirky but practical layout that demonstrates that Audace is a floating home. And one that lays her cards on the table with her very name.
“She is called Audace because she is a strong design. I loved the futurist names: Audace, Audace, Ardito, Ardimentoso, Intrepido and Sparviero were the Royal Italian Navy’s five cruisers,” Merloni continues. He was not remotely concerned that his new vessel did not mirror current trends either. “I have to be able to live my boat. I have no interest in either chartering her or selling her,” he explains. “What I don’t like is design for its own sake. I didn’t want any marble or carpet aboard. At sea, you will slip on marble in wet feet. Carpet on a yacht is an aberration. Boats have to comfortable and functional. That means things are used, lived, worn out. They have to get old with you”.
Audace’s interiors are by Alessandra Negrato of Studio Sculli, who delivered on Merloni’s requests. “Andrea had very clear ideas about what his boat should be like,” says Negrato. “It was to be simple but not minimalist with no trendy elements. It also had to be comfortable to live aboard. Somewhere to relax and feel at home”.
This meant selecting quality elements that didn’t clash with the technical look and feel Merloni was aiming for. “He initially wanted a yacht with a ferry vibe,” explains Negrato. “That was more difficult to do than you could possibly imagine. To give Audace a spare, ferry-like look yet also imbue her with a bold personality, we had to go for square windows brightened by big red handles, for example,” he continues. The result is, to Negrato’s credit, fantastic. Audace is spare but has oodles of charisma. Quality accessories, such as guest cabin bedside lockers by Lema and Maxalto stools, combine with magnificent C&C Milano and Dedar fabric that alone lend a decorative elegance to the cabins and saloons. Tribù sofas and chaises, Paola Lenti ottomans and cushions and, in a touch of genius, gorgeous B&B leather chairs for the two dining area tables complete the picture. Small but essential details that lend Audace an air of sophistication without making her seem like just another luxury yacht. Because as Coco Chanel once put it: “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance”.