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Jun / Jul 2017
The Fifth Element

WRITER: Michael Verdon

A sister company to Tecnomar, Admiral is an Italian shipyard that has produced boats since 1966 but their new E Motion line of aluminium displacement yachts only look forwards. Quinta Essentia is the first of these new superyachts.

What’s in a name? Quinta Essentia is in fact the owners’ second superyacht with this name. Launched in May 2016 by the Admiral shipyard in Italy, the builder’s first E-Motion hybrid yacht looks to be a very different proposition to the owner’s previous 2011-built Heesen (now renamed Quite Essential). For starters, the old Quinta Essentia had a high-volume interior, with more space than most yachts in her class, and her exterior, while handsome in a classic way, was traditional-looking. The new one has been designed by Monaco-based Dobroserdov Design and includes a vertical bow, straight-edged and layered topside, and vast expanses of glazing, from floor-to-ceiling windows in the skybridge to rectangular portholes in the lower guest suites. Amazingly, it also claims to have more space. Though identical in length to the 55-metre Heesen, the new Quinta Essentia boasts 873 gross tonnes of volume, versus 781.

 

With a hybrid propulsion system consisting of two generators and two electric motors, connected to the propeller shafts and to the boat’s two MAN diesel engines via a clutch, Admiral's E Motion yachts can cruise in virtual silence , and with a top speed of 16.4 knots and cruising speed of 15.2 knots (under diesel power), they're not sluggish either.

 

Then there’s that signature dark red stripe on the hull. The old one had one too but somehow it was executed in a more reticent manner, the new one’s grown more assured. Of course, the rich Chianti red and cool, white Pinot colours are not a designer’s whim – they reflect the owner’s desire to replicate their love for Tuscany, where they own a sizable vineyard as well as an estate that produces olive oil.

Rome-based Michela Reverberi, who designed the interior on the first Quinta Essentia, realised early on that this might be the most difficult project she’d ever done. Not only did the owners want to carry forward the same theme that had defined the Heesen (namely, employing the four elements of earth, air, fire and water as the design’s key blocks) but they also wanted the grapes, olives and rural wildlife of Tuscany expressed throughout the interior.

 

Quinta Essentia’s name offers a glimpse of the detailed brief the owners gave to the yacht's designers – they wanted to represent the four elements considered in Western culture as the essence of life (earth, air, fire and water) and use them as “building blocks” for the fifth element, their yact. They also added a further layer of complexity by asking that their love of Tuscany, its culture and countryside, and their own olive orchard and vineyard, be clearly represented throughout the décor. Achieving their vision required an astonishing level of craftsmanship. 

 

Quinta Essentia translates as the “fifth element”. In ancient philosophy, it was called “ether” and considered the universe’s highest element, the constituent matter of heavenly bodies, and present in all matter. “They wanted their yacht to be a synthesis of the four elements and become this higher element, the Quinta Essentia,” explains Reverberi.

Images of grapes and olives in every room could have easily gone amiss if it wasn’t done right and Reverberi was acutely aware of this fact, so she set out with the lofty objective that this boat had to be nothing short of a masterpiece.

 

 

Moving from one room to the next shows just how far Reverberi stretched the Tuscan theme. Each wall covering, each piece of furniture and each artwork is custom-made, and every room retains a distinctive look without ever losing the overall theme. Crown moulding and stuccos in the upper salon, frescos painted on the ceiling of the owner’s suite, and centuries-old wood from Italian palaces inlaid into marble tiles provide much of the interior’s Florentine feeling. Delicate, hand-painted silk wallpaper by Fromental adds to the elegance of the interior. “Everything had to be well-balanced to allow the four elements to co-exist,” she says.

 

 

Choosing the right artisans was key and involved the services of several specialised contractors. The dining table, for instance, combines the talents of a master stone carver, carpenter and upholsterer. The sofas, covered in velvet, have backs in carved leather, the work of London-based artist Helen Amy Murray. The staircase that connects the three main levels features a stunning mural in metal resin with enamel and real feather inlays by Based Upon, from London, and engraved clear glass by Bernard Pictet, from Paris.

“Some features – like that wall – have patterns and colours that represent the movement of wine in a glass,” says Reverberi. “Nothing in the yacht is hidden and everything was designed to co-exist just as the four elements do.”

 

 

Beyond the interior, the Sergei Dobroserdov exterior and naval architecture by Vripack were groundbreaking designs. Quinta Essentia has about a third more interior volume than most 55-metre superyachts, while her Auxilia electric-diesel hybrid propulsion (consisting of two generators and two electric motors, connected to the propeller shafts and to the boat’s two MAN diesel engines via a clutch) delivers a top speed 16 knots, or 9.5 knots on electric power alone.

“At 10 knots, the vessel has a range of 6,500 nautical miles which is almost unlimited,” says Marija Povecerovska of Nakhimov Management, which oversaw the build. “The design also makes the yacht incredibly quiet and vibration-free. You can hardly feel her moving when she is under way.”

 

 

Indeed, noise levels in the owner’s cabin at anchor are 39 dBa, about the same as a library. At cruising speed, they’re pretty much equivalent to a rural area at night. Reverberi also used thick silk carpets to absorb the sound of footsteps and hefty doors to help close out any remaining sounds. “I always try to optimize the impact on all the senses,” she says. “Just like light, sound is one of these critical elements.”

Quinta Essentia, recently listed for 34,500,000 USD, is more than the sum of its parts thanks to a very personal vision. And on the practical side, it can accommodate up to 12 guests in six cabins including a palatial master suite on the main deck and a VIP cabin with 180 degrees panoramic views on the upper deck.

 

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