Flexplorer 130 Aurelia, Trailblazer

The Cantiere delle Marche Flexplorer 130 Aurelia is a true explorer yacht, with naval architecture and an exterior design by Sergio Cutolo from Hydro Tec. The interiors are the work of Francesco Paszkowski design. At 10 knots she has a range of 7,500 nautical miles

by Massimo Longoni – photo by Guillaume Plisson

When the newly founded Cantiere delle Marche launched its first explorer yacht, Vitadimare3, in 2011, this type of boat was largely unknown, and there weren’t any shipyards anywhere in the world dedicated entirely to the Explorer vessels. The shipyard from Ancona has come a long way since then, rising through the rankings of the leading manufacturers of 30-meter-plus yachts. It currently lies twelfth in the list and remains uncontested internationally in the explorer yacht market segment.

How has Cantiere delle Marche succeeded in becoming a leading player on the international yachting scene in just a few years? The Flexplorer 130 Aurelia, the yacht we are presenting over the next few pages, contains many of the answers to this question: specialisation, excellent build quality, and a constructive and proactive approach. To which I would add a lack of fear of treading new paths. The Flexplorer range started with a 130-foot boat, Aurelia, which caught people’s eye at the Cannes Yachting Festival last September with its majestic A-frame crane sticking out from the main deck, ready for action. The shipyard then confirmed the range’s commercial success, announcing it had sold three Flexplorer 146s. The play on words combining ‘flexibility’ and ‘explorer’ perfectly embodies the spirit of this range, where everything revolves around the concept of flexibility. Each of the Flexplorer 146s currently under construction differs substantially from the others: some have three decks, others have four; some include the A-frame crane, others don’t, and the layouts are completely different.

As soon as you get on board, you realize that the aft terrace is truly huge. When the two portions of the bulwark are pulled down, the surface becomes even greater and contact with the sea is ensured even when lying comfortably on the sun loungers.

But let’s return to Aurelia. Despite being under 40 metres long, it is a robust and reliable boat that can sail across vast oceans and reach the most remote destinations in complete safety. The exterior design is bold, displaying clear-cut geometries without straying into angular minimalism. Sergio Cutolo from Hydro Tec designed the yacht’s exterior and its efficient hull. The superstructure is well proportioned, the bow is almost vertical, and the main deck afterdeck is huge. Looking around the yacht, you come to realise that the stylistic solutions are a response to specific functional requirements. The minimal difference between the overall length and the length at the waterline reflects the optimal use of internal space, designed around the owner’s everyday needs, while the cockpit has been designed to house a ten-metre tender, which is very large compared to the length of the yacht.


As Vasco Buonpensiere, co-founder and sales & marketing director at Cantiere delle Marche, explains, the design for this Flexplorer was built around the tender: «This client had one of our Darwins, and he was very happy with it, but he wanted a larger tender for a wide range of activities: reaching beaches and coasts that were inaccessible with the yacht, exploring coastlines, and so on. But he didn’t want to be restricted by an overly large and bulky crane. Our CEO, who has a lot of experience in the merchant vessel sector, had a brainwave: borrowing an element used on workboats and fishing trawlers and adapting it to the needs and purposes of a luxury yacht. The item in question is an A-frame or bridge crane, which can launch and haul a large, and therefore heavy, tender from the yacht’s stern without any risk of listing. Having chosen this approach, the next step was to design the structure and develop a system to make it disappear when not in use. We got Advanced Mechanical Solutions (AMS) involved, an engineering company that specialises in boat design. The result is an imposing carbon-fiber structure, strong and lightweight, that can be fully concealed beneath the deck’s teak floor. The housing for the structure is hidden by flaps that move in harmony with the crane itself. It was an enormous challenge, but given how perfectly it works, we can now say it was well worth taking it on. In any case, blazing a trail is in our DNA!».

Two pictures of the main deck saloon furnished with an Edwood by Sugak fossil wood table and a large Tuscany Siena leather sofa by Baxter.

Returning to the cockpit, once the tender (a Joker Boat Clubman 28 EFB) has been launched, the over 115 m² area is transformed into a large outdoor living space equipped with sofas, chaise longues, sunshades and coffee tables, and a beach area that opens onto the beach platform at the stern, with a ladder for easy access to the water. Two fold-down bulwarks provide even more floor space and a feeling of proximity to the sea. The beach platform leads to a lovely gym fitted with Technogym gear, lit by six roof lights. Moving up a level outdoors you reach the stern terrace on the upper deck, which houses an outside dining room shaded by the overhang from the upper deck and, forwards, a sitting area with facing sofas. Another level up is a small sundeck, which the owner chose to make into a private area with a sofa looking aft and a small pool and adjacent sunbed. When you walk around the yacht’s outside spaces you appreciate the build quality, from the laying of the teak to the durability of the steelwork, both in the deck equipment and the handrail. The outdoor furniture is made by Dedon and Roda.

The exterior design gives Aurelia plenty of personality, and this is confirmed – and even heightened – by the fascinating new stylistic features indoors. The highly unusual interior was designed by Francesco Paszkowski in partnership with Margherita Casprini. Once again, the shipowner’s choices defy convention – he didn’t want luxury rooms.

The lounge on the upper deck: the atmosphere is very welcoming, dominated by a large vintage carpet and a super comfortable sofa by Baxter.

Entering the main saloon, the originality of Aurelia’s style is immediately obvious: a large, solid, fossil wood table with deep cracks running through it stands on the left, with a leather sofa on the right. Completing the sitting area are two Baxter Houston armchairs and a long wooden bench that runs along the wall, with two large, quilted mattresses at both ends recalling the old wool mattresses our grandparents’ generation used. The floor is made of large oak slats of various sizes. The surprises continue with the concrete-clad walls and ceiling with metal beams. The light switches are industrial in design, and the wiring system comes with visible ducting and junction boxes.

The master suite is at the bow on the main deck. Also in this room, the walls and ceilings are covered with concrete. There are three guest cabins on the lower deck. A laundry room was built in place of the fourth cabin.

As Francesco Paszkowski puts it: «Aurelia features an interior design of industrial inspiration that is more reminiscent of a sophisticated New York loft than a yacht». Ornaments, rugs, paintings, and a few pieces of furniture were chosen personally by the owner, who loves objects with a bit of history and life behind them, and which make him feel at home.

A wide staircase connects the deck to the bathing platform. In the aft platform, there is a transformer gangway, which facilitates the descent into the water and getting back on board.

Aurelia’s layout, meanwhile, does not offer any big surprises. The main deck features a lovely master suite at the bow and a large galley. The lobby includes a highly original wine cellar in the stairwell: a transparent column that continues to the upper deck containing dozens of sought-after labels on rotating racks, with fingerprint access control. This striking feature is both a practical way of making the wines accessible on two decks and a notable piece of design and engineering. Climbing up past the wines we reach the panoramic lounge on the upper deck. Here, once again, the style is unusual and the objects are not exactly conventional: the stand-out item is an old landing strip floodlight on a tripod, found at a flea market in Florence.

Amongst the many details the imposing A-frame crane capable of handling a large tender certainly stands out. The carbon structure, when not in operation, disappears in housings flush with the deck flooring. A very interesting element of the interior is the wine cellar, which extends between the main and upper decks.

The high bow cuts through the waves with confidence and guarantees comfortable sailing in all sea conditions.

We go back downstairs to the lower deck, where the owner only wanted three guest cabins: two VIPs and one doubleThe fourth cabin has been replaced by a large laundry and ironing room: the owner intends to sail long distances and wants his crew to have spacious and comfortable rooms both when at work and when resting. Three crew cabins and a nice dinette occupy the forward part of the deck and are connected to the galley on the main deck by a separate staircase. The large engine room, which houses two Caterpillar C32 746 kW 1600-1800 rpm engines and the yacht’s other systems, is laid out impeccably, providing easy access to all equipment. An under lower deck provides further stowage space and direct access to the stabilisers.

Aurelia has two pairs of CMC Marine electric stabilisers, which, as Sergio Cutolo explains, have many advantages: «There are several benefits to having four fins instead of two. The fins are smaller and therefore offer less resistance and, working with the independent rudders and sophisticated software, they help to keep the boat on course». According to the spec, the yacht should have had a maximum speed of 40 knots and a range of roughly 5,000 nautical miles at 10 knots. However, the sea tests exceeded expectations. The maximum speed was above 16 knots, rather than the 14 predicted, and the expected range of 5,000 nautical miles turned out to be an underestimate: the yacht easily surpassed 7,500 nautical miles at 10 knots, as the graph accompanying this article shows.

The data, collected during sea trials with the yacht at half load, exceeded the rosiest expectations.

Engine room
The engine room is very large and makes the engineer’s job easy. A tank deck, below the lower deck, allows easy access to the systems including the two pairs of stabilisers.

Via E. Mattei, 36
I-60125 Ancona

Hydro Tec (exterior design and naval architecture) • Francesco Paszkowski Design (interior design)

Building material Steel/Aluminium
Length 39.37m
Beam 8.60m
Draft 2.60m
Displacement 392 t
Gross Tonnage 453 GT
Fuel tanks volume 60,000 l
Water tanks volume 8,500 l
Grey/waste water tanks volume 2,000 l

2 x Caterpillar C32 (A rating, Heavy Duty)
Outlet mechanical power 746kW @1600-1800/min
Maximum speed 15 knots
Range at 10 knots 7,500 nautical miles

C Malta Cross HULL MACH Ych, unrestricted navigation

(Flexplorer 130 Aurelia, Trailblazer – Barchemagazine.com – June 2022)