Growing up inland in Milan, Italy, Capt. Matteo Marelli didn’t come from a family of sailors. Instead, his family owned a well-known meat business, which supplied the top restaurants in Milan and the Lake Como area. Their customer base grew to include yacht chefs, who were seeking quality meat for provisioning. It was thanks to this that in 2001 Capt. Marelli stepped foot on board a large sailing superyacht in Viareggio to deliver an order of meat. This is when his life changed forever.
“Yachting stole me away from the family business, giving me the luxury to find and do the job that I love,” says Capt. Marelli, who has been a captain for five years. He started out crewing on large sailing yachts for the first 13 years of his yachting career. In the last three years, he transitioned to working on motor yachts, the latest of which is the new 36.9-meter Benetti Motopanfilo 37M motor yacht. His résumé was passed on to the yacht’s owner as they needed a captain to take the boat out of the shipyard after the build and do her first season.
This yacht series celebrates the classic Benetti motopanfilo-style yachts from the 1960s and 70s, which were the height of fashion with the celebrity set — musician David Bowie had one, as did Monaco’s Prince Rainier. “The new 37-meter is inspired by the leading models of the 60s and 70s and by the stylistic code of that era,” says Giovanna Vitelli, vice president of the Azimut|Benetti Group. “She’s the materialization of Benetti’s glam heritage but made to satisfy the tastes and needs of contemporary owners.”
Built in fiberglass and composite, this semi-custom yacht has reference points to the classic Benettis, such as the bronze fashion plates that adorn the exterior. The interior design, by Rome-based designer studio Lazzarini & Pickering Architects, uses nautical-inspired elements, like light fixtures shaped like traditional portlights, as well as curved furniture that gives a nod to the 1960s. In the salon, two rounded sofas face each other to invite conversation while also providing excellent sightlines to the sea beyond. A unique interior detail is the wooden “ribs” that arch across the yacht’s ceiling, framing distinct areas, which her designers say were designed to conjure up the feeling of being in the belly of the whale.
“Beginning with the stunning looks of this yacht, I like the design and I like especially how they have managed to modernize the look of the classic motopanfilo and transform into this work of art,” says Capt. Marelli. “The windows in the main salon are something spectacular and make it feel like you are outside.” These floor-to-ceiling windows help the Benetti Motopanfilo 37M stand out, as does the huge curved aft door that leads from the main salon to the aft deck with its cordial seating area.
The yacht accommodates 10 guests and seven crew. “The crew quarters are just about perfect for this size crew,” says Capt. Marelli. He is also a fan of the Motopanfilo 37M’s performance. “It is outstanding, combining really low fuel consumption with high speeds,” he says. Powered by twin MAN diesel engines, the yacht has a maximum speed of 17 knots, cruises at 15 knots, and her range is 3,800 nautical miles at 10 knots.
The yacht, which is based in Port Adriano in Mallorca, has already had a chance to stretch her sea legs and put these performance capabilities to the test. “Last season, we managed a really busy season and we have cruised for about 4,000 miles,” says Marelli. “We have had about nine weeks of charter and it looks like the next season is very promising.”
This article originally ran in the March 2023 issue of Dockwalk.