The passion the Filippetti family imbues in their boats is hard to miss, especially when the rooster tail is 15 feet high. It belongs to hull number one of the Filippetti Yacht S55, a resurgence of sorts, or maybe a harkening back in time. At the wheel is Fausto Filippetti, which is fitting: You could say he has his hands all over this design. Cruising out of Miami’s South Beach into Biscayne Bay, there is a good amount of traffic. It’s obvious while sharing the water with center consoles and larger motoryachts that the S55 is the only yacht in the bay outfitted with twin 1,200-hp MAN engines paired to Arneson Surface Drives.
Italy has long been enamored with open concept sport yachts. When a more mustachioed Fausto and his partners Tilli Antonelli and Giuliano Onori founded Pershing in 1981, they both capitalized on and accelerated this growing trend, making its way across the pond and all over the world. They named their company after an intercontinental ballistic missile delivery system. This would be fitting, as their first boat, the Pershing 45, indeed moved like a missile, given its size, and was so well received that the company exploded in popularity.
This is evinced in the S55. (“S,” of course, stands for Sport.) Stepping aboard, the first thing you notice is how much social space the 57-footer affords. In the cockpit, an L-shaped sofa combines with a massive sunpad to answer the question, “Where are my guests?” on a sunny day. A robust, sliding glass partition is capable of completely disappearing, making the salon and the cockpit one.
The 55 appears to be enjoying burgeoning interest in the States—at the time of this writing, a handful have been sold. I asked Fausto’s son Giovanni, CEO of Filippetti Yacht, if prospective clients in the U.S. are gravitating toward the Arneson Drives or shirking them for the comfortable predictability of the simple-to-operate IPS. His answer surprised me. At the 2019 Miami boat show, more than half the people they spoke with expressed interest in Arneson Drives. “There’s no demographic,” said Giovanni. “We’ve received interest from millennials to an 85-year-old.”
It’s not entirely surprising when looking at the numbers. Trading surface drives for pods, the boat’s performance drops by 10 knots (though range does increase, from 270 nm to 315 nm at WOT), while the draft, at nearly 4 feet, jumps up by more than a foot. “People hear surface drives and they think of speed and high performance, but these specialized props are all about efficiency,” said Filippetti North American Sales Manager Darren Datson. Though more efficient, surface drives are sensitive to trim, and take time to master. For the skilled captains out there, it will no doubt be a badge of honor, like knowing how to drive a Ferrari with a stick shift.
Reaching speeds in excess of 45 knots felt exhilarating, though Giovanni and Fausto claimed they hit a top end of 47.5 knots in flattish water during the boat’s initial performance test off the coast of Northern Italy. It leads one to wonder why more competitors aren’t carving out a niche in this segment, or making use of such propulsion. “It’s really just us and Pershing and that’s it,” admitted Giovanni. —Simon Murray
Displ.: 58,000 lbs.
Fuel: 713 gal.
Water: 184 gal.
Standard Power: 2/1,200-hp MAN V8 with Arneson Surface Drives
Cruise Speed: 32 knots
Top Speed: 48 knots