When guests at the Sanlorenzo Open Weekend in Hong Kong in mid-March boarded the showpiece SX76, they weren’t just viewing the new model’s first hull into Asia. They were looking at the first hull, period.
Yet it wasn’t just because it was first out of the shed in Ameglia that made it a such a draw at the Marina Cove event organised by Simpson Marine, the Italian builder’s dealer for Asia.
What made it truly unique was that this yacht featured the ‘special edition’ interior by Piero Lissoni – also Sanlorenzo’s Art Director – designed specifically for the world premiere of the SX76 at the Cannes Yachting Festival last September.
The layout options for the Italian yard’s smallest model even include a Version Lissoni alongside Versions A and B, although Sanlorenzo prides itself on its customised offerings for owners.
However, before you even get on board the SX76, it’s a yacht that can stop you in your tracks upon first sight, as it also proved at February’s Miami International Yacht Show when it was one of four Sanlorenzo models on display.
Like the ‘avant-garde’, award-winning SX88 showcased in Cannes a year earlier, the new 76 is a combination of Zuccon International Project’s exterior lines and Lissoni’s interior work, with renowned American fishing boat designer Lou Codega handling the waterlines.
Bernardo Zuccon, working with Luca Santella of the Sanlorenzo style office, managed to seamlessly transplant the distinctive exterior of the 88 onto her smaller sister, which maintains the SX’s ‘crossover’ ambitions of combining a flybridge motor yacht with explorer-like styling and deck spaces.
Easily recognisable from distance, the SX76’s lines are super sleek, even futuristic, and lead to a high, seaworthy bow, while the reverse windshields on the main deck and flybridge are also distinctive designs and reduce the effects of direct sunlight.
It’s quite a visual offering, especially when sunlight reflects off the metallic-grey fibreglass hull, carbon-fibre superstructure and dark glazed surfaces, so you can see why the yacht has racked up a strong order book. Even before this particular hull was displayed at Cannes, the model had already sold eight units.
By early March, 16 units had been sold – within six months of the model’s public unveiling – so the SX76 is now well on its way to emulating the soaring success of the SX88, which secured 22 sales within its first 18 months, including one that will arrive in Singapore later this year.
So, credit to Bernardo Zuccon, who had to incorporate similar design traits and living spaces from the SX88 within significantly smaller specs, yet it appears like a seamless transition.
“The challenge for SX76 was to get the same features as the larger SX88 without altering its style balance,” he admitted.
After all, the 76 has managed to match its elder sibling in one significant area by being able to offer the same number of lower-deck guest cabins, four, although that’s not the case on Version Lissoni, but more of this later.
Starting aft, the 76 has retained arguably the SX’s signature feature: its large beach club that integrates with the cockpit to create one huge, two-level living area in the stern.
One word that keeps coming to mind is clean, which certainly describes the aft deck and the swim platform, which is only four wide steps down, so – without a fixed sofa to act as a divider – it feels like an extension of the main deck rather than a separate area downstairs.
The swim platform can comfortably house a 4m tender and a jet-ski, and they can be deployed when the port gunwale surprisingly reveals its second life as an electro-hydraulic davit – a masterpiece of ingenuity and disguise.
Once clear of toys, the swim platform can extend about 50cm and become a vast beach club covering about 19sqm, plenty of space for multiple sunloungers, tables and umbrellas.
Ultimately, this is a boat designed for active sea-goers, people who want to be spending their time in and around the water, whether lounging beside it, swimming and splashing in it, snorkelling and diving, or jetting around with water toys ranging from Seabobs to Sea-Doos.
Zuccon says the best yachts are those designed for users to live in close contact with the water, as the Italian believes boating embodies the relationship between man and the sea. “The SX range pushes this relationship to the maximum.”
Inside, the SX76 follows the ground-breaking loft-style design introduced on the SX88, which was largely inspired by penthouses, although that’s a less-relevant comparison on the smaller sister.
However, Sanlorenzo’s quest to offer a fresh approach to on-board space still rings true and the view as you enter the split-level saloon is bright, light and has a lot of white. Take away the sofas and this could double as a small art gallery.
The décor of the first unit exemplifies Lissoni’s clean, elegant style, with the saloon characterised by soft and neutral colours, and flooded by natural light.
This special edition has kept furniture minimal, with two long, low couches on either side, a couple of dark chairs aft, and an attractive three-disc coffee table acting as the centrepiece for the lower half of the saloon.
The real centrepiece is the bespoke staircase, a sculpture-like artwork that Lissoni designed specifically for the SX76 and which dominates the starboard side of the saloon, winding its way up to the flybridge and down to the lower deck. It’s clever, it’s artistic and it’s a talking point, but it does block quite a lot of the panorama from many parts of the saloon, even from the aft deck.
To port, it’s two steps up to the forward half of the saloon, which has great views through large side windows and the windshield. This space is dedicated to a minimalist, country-style kitchen to port and a dining table to starboard, separated from the lounge by the staircase.
One of the innovative design features of the SX range is that there’s only one helm station – on the flybridge – which not only frees up space in the saloon but can enable panoramic views throughout the forward area, although again that’s slightly negated on this particular model due to the staircase.
It’s worth stating that Lissoni’s design on this special edition is just that – one edition – so owners can choose from multiple layout options or customise the plans, furniture and décor in cooperation with Sanlorenzo.
One basic option is for an enclosed galley, which creates a much more private dining area forward, while more conventionally designed, transparent staircases are used on other units.
Another example of the many layout possibilities is on the lower deck where the standard option features four double cabins, with a full-beam master suite midships, two twin/double cabins, and a VIP in the bow featuring a starboard-facing bed.
However, the Lissoni version offers just two guest suites, with the master still making the most of the 21ft 6in beam midships but with the bed facing starboard, toward an elegant, open bathroom with sinks below the window, a walk-in shower forward and the head aft. The VIP in the bow again has a starboard-facing bed, but is larger than in the standard option.
The Lissoni-edition lower deck is most notable for an entertainment room between the two cabins, which is a concept that could prove popular in Asia – and already has.
In both versions, the crew cabin is aft of the owner’s suite and has direct access to the engine room, which due to the IPS 1050 transmission is further aft than if it had traditional axle transmissions.
Back on the main deck, the foredeck is accessed by passageways with reassuringly high bulwarks. Sitting below the overhang of the windshield is a wide C-shaped sofa and a rectangular table, which can be lowered and covered by cushions to form a large sunbed.
This comfortable space can also be neatly covered by an awning for shade during the day or intimacy at night.
Creating a 360-degree social area, the bow has a large aft-facing sunpad, which itself can be adjusted to open up a central walkway to the windlass.
The flybridge, which can only be accessed by the interior staircase, has a hardtop and windshield, but can otherwise be open to the elements on the other three sides. However, the area below the hardtop can be completely enclosed, using double-hung windows on the sides and a series of Strataglass panels aft.
Aside from the helm station to port, the top deck is typically flexible in its options and arrangements. The standard version has a bar counter and a dining table with eight chairs in the middle, with space for sun loungers aft.
The Lissoni version has clever wooden framed couches with seating that, once the cushions are removed, can flip up to create more space, such as for cocktail parties or a yoga session.
The main table is also adaptable and can be electrically lowered for use as a coffee table or raised for dining, when it can expand with fold-out sections to cater for more guests.
The SX76 has a modest top speed of 22 knots and cruises at 20 with twin Volvo Penta IPS 1050 engines, but this is not a 76-footer set up to overpower the sea. It’s designed to engage with it and does this with style.
Note: This article first appeared in Yacht Style Issue 47