Capt. Roberto Cuomo on the build of the first Benetti Oasis M/Y Rebeca and his route to becoming a superyacht captain.
"The Benetti Oasis is a completely new concept and that’s what lured me to it,” says Italian-born (La Spezia) Capt. Roberto Cuomo. The new-build 41.14-meter Oasis 40 model M/Y Rebeca is a prototype project that began in October 2019, but Cuomo didn’t join until July 4, 2020. “It was a weird year for everyone,” says Capt. Cuomo. “And I couldn’t join before because the project stopped and started. When the shipyard re-opened in July, I got on board.”
Capt. Cuomo developed a passion for the sea as a teenager, racing in regattas at Lecce, Porto Venere, and the gulf of La Spezia. “Sail yachts were my first passion. I began studies at University, but I didn’t finish them and decided to follow my first love, sailing,” he says. By 21, he had already completed his first Atlantic crossing from Genoa to the Caribbean in a 15-meter sailing yacht. The following year, he did it again in an 18-meter boat: “Our only navigation tool was the sextant and I remember arriving at Cape Verde and not being able to phone my parents to tell them I was okay. Things are different now,” he adds. Capt. Cuomo moved to superyachts in 2000, starting as a deckhand. His 40-year career has spanned work on motor and sailboats ranging from 15 to 55 meters. Before joining M/Y Rebeca, he skippered M/Y Lejos.
“The yacht was still in dry dock when I joined and it was a challenge for me and my chief engineer, chief stew, and first officer to deliver in scheduled time at the beginning of September,” Cuomo says. “Even the shipyard wasn’t sure we would make it. I thought we’d need two more months, but we did it.” The vessel launched for the first time at the end of July. “The building period was a challenge because there were no comparisons to make; even where to put the laundry, for example,” Cuomo says. “My role was to organize the crew, equipment, uniform, tools in the engine room, nautical charts, electronics, and liaise between the shipyard and the owner.”
The 385GT fiberglass hull and superstructure have exteriors jointly designed by Benetti and RWD and interiors by Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture in New York. “I don’t think the stern area, with its wide, luxurious beach club, has been seen before,” the captain says. “When you open the fold-out stern, it’s more than eleven meters, more like a sixty-meter yacht. Benetti has never done anything like this before.” The yacht is also remarkable for its expansive windows and an infinity pool.
“The bridge area is unique — a wheelhouse with no wheel! It’s more like a space shuttle. We have five monitors, two are touch screen, and you control absolutely everything from there: navigation, lights, [and] the platform. I had some training for the bridge by the people who installed it, but it will take a while to get used to it,” Cuomo says, who was also particularly struck by the design of the new beach area.
Capt. Cuomo was apprehensive at the yacht’s first sea trial on August 13, knowing he had only two weeks to go before delivery, but the boat performed well with a maximum speed of 18.5 knots and optimum of 14.5. CMC Marine’s ultra-compact stabilizers also proved their worth during the trial, says the captain. The yacht was built to accommodate 10 guests in five cabins and seven crew; it is built to LY3 regulations. “At the moment it is private, but we are preparing for chartering the yacht next year,” says Capt. Cuomo. “We weigh nearly 400GT and it takes a whole day to clean the windows!” Crew accommodation includes a “nice mess” and a “big table.”
“This is No. 1 in the series, so we are going to check/revise the proper functioning of all the equipment,” Cuomo says. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for us.”