NEW BOATS - Darwin 86

NEW BOATS - Darwin 86

Ahhhh, the Italians. Paragons of style, the epitome of the graceful line and bite-the-back-of-your-hand beauty. Hang on, what’s this? It’s the Darwin 86 from new yard Cantiere delle Marche on Italy’s eastern coast. When I saw her recently for the first time in the flesh, I’ll admit that she didn’t fall easily on the eye — a rugged explorer style with several decks squeezed into an 86ft hull is not, necessarily, a recipe for sublime aesthetics.

However, I couldn’t let this column pass without giving this remarkable yacht a mention. She is extraordinary. From the level of her finish and her engineering to the almost incomprehensible sense of deck and interior space she offers, the Darwin 86 is, quite simply, a true pocket superyacht — and at a price (around Euro 6 million) that puts many of her Sunseeker and Azimut sisters to shame.

On deck, you get a large aft main deck cockpit with seating or dining, a large aft bridge deck with a full dining table for alfresco eating, and a capacious sundeck with spa pool and the option for a forward flybridge helm (as specified by the owner of the first one).

Her interior is no less prodigious. The main saloon and dining area puts many larger yachts to shame, while below she offers a proper master stateroom amidships (complete with generous en suite, walk-in wardrobe, seating area and a desk), a full VIP double forward, and two comfortable guest doubles/twins between. Forward on the main deck are a large, professional galley, a crew mess and crew cabins (well, you wouldn’t want the hassle of pouring your own drinks, would you?). On the bridge deck, a ship-standard wheelhouse backs into a large upper saloon. Of course, being semi-customisable, the owner of this first model had chosen to put a captain’s cabin behind the bridge, with the upper saloon reduced to a television room to starboard. Not that you’d be spending much time up here — you’d either be out enjoying the deck spaces, or (if you are somewhat anal like what I am) poking around the extraordinary engineroom and aft technical space — both full-height areas with clearly labelled systems and a finish second to none.

As long as you don’t sail past any mirrors, there’s no question that this yacht is one of the highlights of Euroland’s 2011 launches, and she backs up her rugged looks with impressive economy. Powered by twin 400hp Caterpillars, her top speed is around 12kts, where she burns a measly 130lt/h, but drop down to 10.5kts and she halves that consumption, giving her a range of some 5000nm.

If you still can’t get over her slightly truncated looks, fear not — 95ft and 105ft versions, which will carry her proportions a little better, are on the boards. However, if speed is not your prime motivator, and you want to show your sportscruiser friends how to throw a real party far over the horizon, this Italian gem could be right up your street.
— Tim Thomas

From Trade-a-Boat Issue 422, Dec-Jan, 2012.