The evolution of Benetti’s 50m yachts
We compare the brand-spanking new 50m Benetti B. Now ‘Iryna’ with the 20-year-old 50m Benetti ‘Alexandra’…
‘Iryna’ has been in the media spotlight for quite some time now, and for good reason. It is the first in a family of four models, and in Benetti’s own words Iryna is a yacht that ‘rewrites history’ whilst also boasting qualities that ‘set it apart from any other yacht’. This may be true, but how can we tell for sure, and how do we know this isn’t anything more than PR jargon? Well, by comparing the 50m Iryna to another 50m Benetti yacht that was built 20 years ago, we can tell how much the brand has truly evolved and how much history has actually been rewritten.
Iryna is a very well-designed yacht, not groundbreaking, but stunning nevertheless. In a recent survey conducted by The Superyacht Group, it was revealed that the B. Now is actually the industry's favourite 50m Italian-made superyacht, mostly because of its design. Iryna has much more glass and far more exterior living space. That is what's immediately obvious. The design is far more admirable, but it always would be. So what about the rest of the specs?
Here’s what hasn’t changed. Both yachts are 50m in LOA, with a 9m beam, they both have steel hulls, and they both accommodate up to 12 guests. Both of them also have two big MTU engines. Iryna has a maximum speed of 15 knots, while the 20-year-old actually goes a bit faster, and is capable of reaching 16.5 knots. This might be coming across as slightly uninspiring, but the true evolution of the yacht is not entirely obvious. Iryna is far more sustainable, intelligent, efficient and attractive and here is why.
The B. Now range offers an advanced E-Mode Hybrid System that combines traditional and electric propulsion systems. The entire boat can be powered in electric mode through the simultaneous combination of diesel generators and electric motors supported by advanced lithium-ion batteries. On custom yachts, it can function in Parallel Hybrid Mode (PTO/PTI) or Serial Hybrid Mode with diesel-electric, depending on size. Based on an annual use of 1000 hours, comprising 400 hours underway and the rest at anchor, fuel consumption and CO2 can be reduced by up to 24% and NOx by up to 85%.
Moreover, it is quite obvious that the design philosophy puts the owner’s needs on the centre stage while the OASIS DECK® solution addresses the outdoor spaces in particular. The aft deck effectively has wings that open out to increase the available space close to the water whilst also remaing sheltered from the waves. It also has a built-in pool in the beach area, and a 270-degree field of view astern.
Iryna has a range of 4,500 nautical miles at 12 knots, which makes it possible to navigate for weeks without having to be put into port for supplies. This is almost a 20 per cent increase when you compare it to Alexandra which has a range of 3,800 nautical miles when travelling at the same speed. It is quite clear that there has been a substantial improvement when it comes to the way Benetti is designing and engineering its vessels, and fortunately, these evolutions have translated into more sustainable products.
This comparison raises a lot of questions. Not only does it show how far Benetti has come in the last twenty years, but it also allows us to compare what has stayed the same, and think about how some of the developments could be implemented and used on the existing, ageing fleet. Alexandra is quite a flattering example of an ‘old’ yacht, it recently had a major refit in 2018, and it has quite obviously been looked after in a proper way. It is also a Benetti at the end of the day. But while this is quite a nice comparison, it should also be noted that there are many other motor yachts out there that utterly pale in comparison, especially when it comes to the green credentials, it would be deemed borderline offensive to compare some yachts to the likes of ‘Iryna’.
With that being said, the industry would do well to consider whether or not the speed of evolution has been rapid enough. Perhaps the veterans of the industry can take a trip down memory lane and try to reminisce about whether or not they thought there would be a true hybrid 50m superyacht in 20 years' time. Has the progress been enough? What kind of 50m superyacht will shipyards like Benetti be producing in 2042? Feel free to offer your thoughts in the comment section below…
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