We met Pier Luigi Loro Piana, a keen sailor, and owner of the Masquenada motor-powered superyacht, which has undergone a major refit by the Livorno-based Lusben shipyard
by Francesco Michienzi
The refit of the Masquenada motor yacht carried out by Lusben, Azimut Benetti Group, stems from a review of priorities by its owner Pier Luigi Loro Piana. Although he’s an experienced yachtsman who has always loved racing, when he started planning a round-the-world cruise, he thought that an explorer-type motorboat would offer much more comfort on board.
You’ve always been passionate about sailing, but now you’ve acquired a large motor yacht. How has this transition been for you and why did you choose this yacht? I’ve always been a keen sailor and I like going on a sailing boat. The decision was made after I lost my boat in the Gulf of Lion. My philosophy has always been to have a craft that could be used for both racing and cruising. I began with a 40-meter vessel, which then increased to 54 meters, all the way up to 130 feet. Some problems arose within the family in the case of the latter, because we had 40 or 50 people on board when racing, and getting the boat back on track for cruising was a big commitment. In the end, I decided to separate the two things and I opted to have one boat for cruising and one for racing. For cruising, I decided I would prefer a comfortable boat. This is my first motor yacht and I have to say it’s a good alternative, so I’m happy with my choice. In all honesty, when I was young my father had a motorboat and I liked going out on it, then when I was around 18 I developed a passion for sailing and I’ve only had sailing boats since then. My first hull was the 4.90-meter Strale, which I liked. I’ve also owned the 40-meter My Song, a very exciting and eye-catching boat. I bought this used motor yacht with a design very similar to a project I had developed after losing my boat. I had been thinking of a 58-meter boat, which was relaxed and safe to sail. With a few modifications, this vessel could be adapted to the type of cruising I like. It also saved me some time, because if I wanted a new boat like this I would have had to wait until 2024, while in this case, I was able to tour Greece last year after a nine-month restoration project. I finished some other small jobs early in 2022 and now the boat has embarked on its attempt to circle the globe.
The interior design by Misa Poggi features contrasting dark and light woods, combined with stitched leather and brushed bronze accents. The general atmosphere is warm and sophisticated, but also welcoming and informal, with finishes in vellum, bamboo, and textiles that add a warm touch.
When you began the restoration project, what essential conditions did you set out for the designers? The boat had a very interesting stern, so there was plenty of room to put tenders and other things on it with a crane on deck. The first request was for the crane to disappear from the above deck to create an open space with a living area for the day and access to the sea. The designers managed to lengthen the decks a little and place the crane under deck. It’s an unusual crane for this type of boat, but very useful because it can transport up to seven tonnes over a distance of seven meters. This makes it possible to place large tenders in the water. What’s more, being able to free up the deck, which measures 12 to 13 meters long and 10 meters wide, also gave us space for a helicopter landing pad
Based on what you’ve said, I’ve gathered that spaces are very important to you… Yes, especially close to the sea. In addition, the railings, topside, and stanchions were removed to create the platform for the helicopter. This allowed for a very close vision of the sea. By lengthening the water lines we have also made the movement of the hull smoother, and by changing the propeller, we’ve made it 15% faster at the same rpm. In practice, we’ve created a beach 80 cm above sea level.
What is the most important element for you out of navigating, the voyage itself, and living on the boat? As it’s a motor boat, let’s say that the navigation aspect is less exciting than it can be in a sailing boat. There’s none of the excitement of sailing slightly heeled or very heeled, which can sometimes be a problem for guests, but that’s the beauty of sailing. I had a boat that was well-equipped to do even long stretches with a 15/25-degree heel with no problems and it was a lot of fun. With a motorboat, you’re always hoping not to catch two-meter high waves in the bow because then navigation becomes quite tricky. What gives me the biggest feeling of satisfaction is having a boat in a fairly restricted area that allows you to go, stay put, or do some scouting, especially if you have a good tender. What’s more, 50-meter boats have the advantage of being able to draw close to the coast. My boat only draws three meters, while my sailing boat had a draught of almost five.
Were you personally involved in the refitting work? No, I visited a couple of times a month, but I delegated the work to my crew and my captain, who was on board at the time, as well as some professionals of my acquaintance. However, above all, I trusted the very constructive relationship I have with Lusben, which led to a rapid result, much faster than others I have heard of.
You entrusted the interior design to Misa Poggi, who is a well-known sailing enthusiast. What aspects of sailing did she bring to this boat? Perhaps the materials? Yes, she did an excellent job. Misa has been working with us for almost forty years. She designed our beach houses, all the Loro Piana shops, these offices … she’s someone with taste and who adapts to what she has to do with a spirit that has always satisfied me. She always manages to add a special touch. She knows how to use all the spaces in a functional way, which is very important on a boat. For the interiors, she worked with my wife Laura too, and the result was excellent.
The most obvious work is the complete reinterpretation of the main deck in the stern. This area had already been extended during a previous refit, but the owner requested the creation of an open beach club, with easy access to both the sea and the main lounge, which would also be able to accommodate tenders and sea toys.
«I remembered a shuttle called Aspire (originally Etra) that I had visited a few years earlier and thought it might be a good fit. Its solid construction and oceanic range, its almost 600GT tonnage, and 51-meter length catered to the owner’s plan to travel the world with his family. With Nauta as the buyer’s broker, an agreement was reached, and Aspire arrived in Italy in September 2020. There was little time and we wanted to get the work started. We, therefore, chose Lusben for this extensive top-refit that made it necessary to redesign the vessel both inside and out». Mario Pedol, co-fondatore di Nauta Design
Have you experienced a rough or very rough sea in this boat? Yes, the boat crossed the Atlantic in February. The stern took on some pretty big seas, but it reacted very well because it has beautiful hull lines both fore and aft and is strong.
Crossings are normally done by night? How comfortable is it in this sense? Excellent. We took particular care when it came to noise levels and the boat is very quiet. We changed the generators, we put in particle filters that also have a soundproofing function, and we changed the exhausts. We do a lot of traveling by night because we manage to cover 120 miles in ten hours. I have to say there haven’t been any problems.
How many days do you usually spend at sea each year? I’ve always spent around sixty nights in my boat per year. Calculating that I did three or four weeks of races and then the whole of August, I spent at least two months on board. Now I think I’ll be there even more. I’d like to spend four or five months on board.
As a man of the sea, what’s your best memory? I’ve got so many memories and my best ones are certainly tied to races. With Moon, a 30-footer that I still own, my children (who were very young at the time) and I won our category in the Copa del Rey in Palma de Mallorca. It was wonderful because we were racing against professional crews. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. There is also the excitement that comes from the places you can discover when sailing.
On the other hand, I imagine that the most painful moment was the loss of My Song. Yes, it was absurd. It didn’t seem real, but these things happen. I’d decided to send My Song from Antigua to Genoa so as not to risk any breakdowns en route and to be sure that it would arrive in time to take part in the Loro Piana in Sardinia, but instead, I lost the boat completely.
The worst thing was seeing it floating in the water like a corpse and then seeing the physical destruction.
Do you consider yourself to be a competitive person? No, I don’t consider myself to be competitive. I like the competition because it teaches us a lot. After all, there is always something to be learned from the other crews and we put our all into making an effort, into achieving the best result. I like winning.
Have you already chosen your boat for your next races? Yes, I have. It’s the new Club Swan 80, a boat that is much more oriented towards racing than cruising. It’s therefore a boat that guarantees exciting and fun days of sailing but also allows for sporty cruising.
MASQUENADA IS A BOAT DESIGNED TO CONSUME VERY LITTLE. THE OWNER IS VERY AWARE OF GREEN ISSUES, AND WHILE HE THINKS THAT SAILING BOATS ARE THE MOST ECO-FRIENDLY, HE IS FULLY SATISFIED WITH HIS CHOICE OF A MOTORBOAT.
The pair of original Caterpillar 3508 engines (2,100 hp in total) has undergone a complete overhaul and has been fitted with a new exhaust system. With new propellers and reconfigured hull lines in the stern, the yacht’s top speed increased by 1.5 knots. Noise reduction was another priority for the owner, so the three new generators are housed in soundproof boxes and mounted on vibration dampers with structural reinforcements to prevent noise transmission through the hull.
Builder: Lusben shipyard
Delivery date: 23/07/21
Naval architect: Lusben shipyard
Exterior design: Nauta Design
Interior design: Misa Poggi
Time of refit (arrival/departure from shipyard): October 2020 – July 2021 (only 9 months)
LOA: 51.20m • LWL: 49,96m • Beam max: 10,80m • Draught (full load): 3,2m • Displacement: (tonnes) 585,8 (Light Ship) • Gross tonnage: (Gross Tons) 585
Other areas: N/A
(e.g. Diesel, Diesel-Electric etc.) Diesel
Rated output: (kW) 2 x 783 kW. (1.566 kW. Combined)
Propulsion engine/s manufacturer/model Caterpillar 3508B
Drive type: (eg. Fixed Propeller, Waterjet or Surface drive)
Fixed Twin Screws
Normal cruise speed/Consumption: (knots and litres/NM) 11.8 kn – 200 l/h Economical delivery speed/Consumption: (knots and litres/NM) 11.5 kn – 180 l/h
Let’s go back to Masquenada. Who will be using it with you? My children and grandchildren. And my friends too. Not just on my boat, but in a fleet, me with mine and them with theirs. We had three boats in Greece last summer, but they were substantially the same friends as ever, friends who love going to sea, who know my tastes. It was all about discovering new coves to go swimming in new places. We try to stay in natural harbours as much as possible and enjoy nature, a bit of peace, and the beauty of the Mediterranean.
One final question. Where does the name Masquenada come from? It came to me one evening while listening to music. I’d stop to read the song titles on an album by Dizzy Gillespie, who I like, and the third was Mas Que Nada, a jazz track. Mas Que Nada is an original Portuguese song taken from Sergio Mendez. It’s a cheerful song, which conveys a feeling of happiness and joy. What’s more, having lost My Song, I wanted a boat straight away and Mas Que Nada is something I had at once, better than nothing…
(Pier Luigi Loro Piana, I love the sea – Barchemagazine.com – October 2022)