Tall order

Less than forty, more than seven and enough for two were the magic numbers in a repeat customer’s brief to Cantiere delle Marche, the Italian shipyard known for producing robust explorer yachts. The result is the almost 40-metre Aurelia, the shipyard’s first Flexplorer yacht.

Written by Clare Mahon
Photography by © Guillaume Plisson for CdM

25 November 2022


Patterns in numbers can be found everywhere, but it was a precise brief from her owner that led to Aurelia, the not-quite 40-metre (130-foot) yacht that’s the first hull in Cantiere delle Marche’s new series.

The satisfied owner explains, “I wanted a jet tender at least 7.5 metres long on my new yacht, but I didn’t want the yacht itself to be longer than 40 metres. I didn’t want to compromise interior volume because of the tender, either, and I didn’t want too much heeling when launching it.

“I’m also two metres tall, so I wanted a minimum interior height of 2.2 metres,” he continues. “This sum of requests brought me almost by default to the Flexplorer.”

Cantiere delle Marche (CdM), with its background in producing mercantile ships, is positioning itself as a top builder of go-anywhere and do-anything explorer yachts. As Vasco Buonpensiere, Co-founder and Sales and Marketing Director, explains: “When we founded CdM, explorer and expedition-type vessels were a niche market, which our background and experience made us uniquely suited to build.”


While many will associate explorers with large, repurposed vessels, CdM does smaller new builds.

“We don’t want to build over 45 metres or 499 gt. Our segment is compact, long-range, truly durable yachts. Game-changers like the Flexplorer embrace design and technological advancements to redefine what an explorer vessel is today.

Aurelia combines robust seaworthiness with comfort in all sea conditions and adds an extra dose of flexibility and functionality; that’s where we see this market heading.”

More than a name for a range of yachts, the Flexplorer also creates a label for a new way of navigating.

“It’s not just about exploring, it’s about enjoying different ways of life on board,” Buonpensiere explains.

“To us, flexploring means cruising the oceans, being ready for anything while making the most of your yacht’s one-of-a-kind layout and personalised interior.”

In this light, a Flexplorer is the type of yacht for those seeking seaworthiness, independence and autonomy without sacrificing creature comforts or personal style.

The first thing that strikes you when you board Aurelia is her long, open aft deck with a central staircase that leads down to the beach platform. In her Explorer mode, this is an excellent space for storing equipment.

In Flexplorer mode, it’s also great for sunbathing or entertaining. Add that the side sections fold down and you’ve got a fabulous 115-square-metre terrace on the sea.

But there’s more in store here – the tender and its A-frame launching crane. Built and designed by Francesco Pelizza’s Advanced Mechanical Solutions (AMS), the crane comprises two pillars and a transverse cylinder that holds the winch for launching the tender.

Concealed under flush deck slats, the crane rises to launch the tender aft, an arrangement that resolves the heeling issue. Usually only used on merchant ships, Pelizza believes Aurelia is one of the first yachts to be fitted with an A-frame crane.

From the look of things, she won’t be the last, and the owner – who had hoped to be able to install a 7.5-metre tender – was able to get an 8.5-metre Joker Boat Clubman 28 EFB on board.

Sergio Cutolo and HydroTec designed the Flexplorer line’s fast displacement, round bilge hull with a bulbous bow. Flared forward to keep the deck dry and allow optimal space for the crew area and owner’s suite, the hull flattens and widens at the stern to allow for large propellers.

Aurelia has two pairs of stabilising fins, which allow for the installation of smaller blades and offer redundancy in case of blade failure. It also makes for better course keeping because four fins cancel the steering effect caused by larger aft-positioned fins.

Additionally, Aurelia was designed with independent rudders that work with the stabilisers to further improve course keeping and seakeeping. At anchor, the fins work together for optimal stabilisation.

Data from sea trials showed a maximum speed of 15 knots and a 7,000-nautical-mile range at ten knots, both of which exceeded contractual specifications. Aurelia’s fuel consumption of about 70 litres per hour at ten knots is the result of hull optimisation and the integration between the hull and the propulsion package, which will allow her owner to stay at sea for extended periods without having to refuel.

Cutolo also designed the yacht’s vertical, straightforward and honest exteriors, making the most of CdM’s preferred transverse frame construction approach and setting the stage for interiors by Margherita Casprini and Francesco Paszkowski Design.

Says Cutolo, “Traverse frame construction allows for optimised spaces and increases volume thanks to reduced internal structures. It also provides additional design flexibility as it’s easier to modify and make customisation requests.”

Aurelia has an asymmetrical layout on the main deck with the starboard side of the saloon encompassing what would have been the side deck passage. This enlarges the space and brings the views even closer.

As per her owner’s brief, Aurelia has four guest cabins – an owner’s suite forward on the main deck plus two VIPs and a twin on the lower deck. Aurelia’s owner is a passionate collector of antique and vintage furniture and didn’t want his yacht to look like a design showroom.

“I must admit that capturing my style was the most challenging part of the project,” he discloses. “I’m quite particular when it comes to interiors and I like objects and furniture with patina; things that have history and a past life.”

The cooperation with Francesco Paszkowski Design and Margherita Casprini proved fundamental in creating industrial, archaeology-inspired interiors that seem vintage even though they are new. To achieve a repurposed look, the designers used brushed oak slats of varied width for the floors and combined slate, concrete, iron and aluminium in other details.

Brown and charcoal grey hues were chosen for fabrics and furniture, and weathered leather was used on sofas and chairs. Wiring was encased in brass piping and left visible, and old-fashioned industrial boxes were used for the light switches.

Furnishings include flea-market finds like a lamp that was once an airfield landing light and collector’s items like antique rugs and boat and plane models, which are all accented by artworks and paintings on display. Both owner and designers are particularly proud of Aurelia’s stairwell.

“The iron staircase with treads covered in leather fits with the industrial vibe, and the leather feels great underfoot,” says Paszkowski.

“I can only say that many people will want a staircase like mine – both for its design and for its contents,” the owner adds with a wink before elaborating. “The stairwell hosts a wine cellar that spans the main and upper decks and gives easy access to all the bottles stored within.”

Designed by CdM in conjunction with Romagnoli Inox, this stairwell wine cellar comprises two separate racks that rotate manually on swivel bases. Each rack holds 44 bottles, which should mean Aurelia can stay at sea for quite some time before having to provision this all-important alternative fuel.

Aurelia has a fully equipped gym aft on the lower deck that is lit via six aft deck skylights. But the best exercise comes from having fun outdoors, which is why Aurelia’s beach club lockers house surfboards, three mountain bikes and two Seabobs.

A tank deck runs below the guest area and connects the engine room to the crew area while allowing easy access to equipment and tanks. Other storage compartments and freezers are located below the crew area. Naturally, this abundance of storage areas further enhances Aurelia’s autonomy to stay out at sea for extended periods.

In short, Aurelia’s sturdiness, autonomy and sophistication make her an ideal yacht for anyone who wants to get away from it all without leaving any of their creature comforts behind. And with her Flexplorer blend of strength and comfort, many owners are sure to find this a magic combination.



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