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time spent on a big boat is cool. Rock­et­ing through the waves on one at high speed is awe­some. When I hopped aboard an Otam 80 HT for a test run in the Med, I wasn’t sure what to ex­pect. The fastest I’d ever been on a boat was 36 knots, rac­ing thun­der­heads to a Ba­hamas week­end on my buddy’s 45-foot Cabo. That was a thrill, but pin­ning ears back and throt­tles for­ward on Otam’s Mr. Brown was the thrill of a life­time.

With an eye on trends in sporty open su­pery­achts and chase boats, Otam Yachts, an Ital­ian boat­builder with a pen­chant for de­sign­ing fast boats to break records, set out in 2004 to add an el­e­ment of lux­ury and com­fort to its high-speed prod­uct. First came a 45-footer, then a 55—which be­came the cur­rent model 58—fol­lowed by the 80, to­day’s flag­ship of Otam’s Mil­len­nium se­ries and one of the world’s fastest yachts for her size.

“She’s very ag­gres­sive … a lit­tle bit mil­i­tary by de­sign,” said Otam CEO Gian­franco Zanoni. “She’s not the most vo­lu­mi­nous boat for her size, but she runs very fast. No other boats in class are av­er­ag­ing a 45-knot cruis­ing speed. That she is able to dou­ble the class norm given her size and ameni­ties is quite a de­sign feat.”

Zanoni, who started rac­ing boats at age 16, has a ro­bust rac­ing pedi­gree of his own, with three Off­shore En­durance cham­pi­onships and six speed records to his name. Sev­eral of those speed records still stand to­day, al­though the time came to hang up his rac­ing stripes.

“I’ve been up­side down at 100 knots off Ar­gentina,” Zanoni said. “One can only get so lucky so many times.”

His pas­sion lives on at Otam. Let’s be hon­est: There’s a lot to like about rip­ping along at 54 knots in an 80-foot beast, even on a less-than-idyl­lic day.

With a cold front bear­ing down on us, winds had picked up and the seas had started to swirl. You’d never have known it from the helm of the Otam 80 HT. While smaller craft strug­gled for sta­bil­ity, Mr. Brown and her four 1,622-horse­power MTUs cou­pled with Tri­max sur­face drives packed an awe­some punch.

All those horses hurl­ing 80 feet of Ara­mat (a blend of fiber­glass and Kevlar) across the waves might con­jure vi­sions of il­lu­mi­nated fas­tenseat­belt signs for tur­bu­lence, but those ex­pected bangs and bumps never came. Our ride was cushy and soft, ef­fec­tively re­sem­bling a steak knife cut­ting through a gooey tiramisu, thanks in part to the deep-V hull penned by naval ar­chi­tect Um­berto Tagli­avini. A sin­gle-lever con­trol at the helm for all four en­gines, along with the sur­face drives play­ing off a 21-de­gree tran­som dead­rise, made han­dling easy at high speed. Us­ing only the two ex­ter­nal en­gines and the bow thruster yielded a tight turn­ing ra­dius for ma­neu­ver­ing in close quar­ters.

Also of note, the swim plat­form on Mr. Brown was cus­tom­ized with a hy­draulic trim fea­ture, elim­i­nat­ing fric­tion be­tween wa­ter and plat­form at high speed to gain half a knot, ac­cord­ing to the yard. Of course, by my stan­dards, what’s half a knot when you’re pulling 54 of them al­ready? But I wasn’t about to de­bate that with a record holder like Zanoni.

Mr. Brown may be the poster child for ex­treme yachting, but it would be a mis­take to write off this bad boy as strictly a per­for­mance boat. Cruis­ing com­fort, even at high speed, is a base prin­ci­ple of the Otam prod­uct line. Mr. Brown’s in­te­rior, de­signed by Achille

Sal­vagni, em­ploys ebony, teak and leather in a min­i­mal­ist fash­ion. The mod­ish re­sult looks and feels the very essence of Ital­ian style. The in­te­rior fur­ni­ture was fit to the liv­ing spa­ces prior to be­ing fin­ished, a process that, while more la­bor-in­ten­sive, en­sured flush sur­faces through­out and elim­i­nated knocks or rat­tles un­der­way.

For­ward of the com­fort­able and roomy deck sa­lon, the main sa­lon is also sur­pris­ingly wide and ac­com­mo­dat­ing, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the mass of might and fury be­neath the decks. Warm wood tones fill the bright and airy Her­mes-in­spired space, as a blend of ebony and teak with match­ing leathers emits a con­tem­po­rary vibe.

The bridge aboard Mr. Brown is mis­sion con­trol, with four con­toured, leather-cov­ered sport chairs with elec­tri­cally op­er­ated, padded backs. Var­i­ous in­stru­ment pan­els face each of the chairs. The helm is to port and in­cludes the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem and radar. To star­board, the en­gine sta­tion in­cludes a full ves­sel mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem. All the screens are dig­i­tally con­nected, mak­ing the dis­plays in­ter­change­able per the viewer’s pref­er­ence.

Be­tween the two bridge con­soles, a stair­case leads be­lowdecks to three state­rooms with en­suite heads. The mas­ter is for­ward with a pair of twins abaft. De­signed for Eu­ro­pean cruis­ing, the gal­ley and crew cab­ins aboard Mr. Brown are sep­a­rate from the liv­ing ar­eas, with ac­cess from the main deck and the fore­deck. With Otam po­si­tion­ing it­self as a be­spoke builder, deck ar­range­ments can vary from hull to hull, but never at the cost of safety.

“We en­joy the chal­lenge of cater­ing to own­ers’ re­quests, but we have to make sure they won’t af­fect per­for­mance, weight or struc­tural in­tegrity,” Zanoni said. “Then we must say ‘no.’ These boats are de­signed to ex­ceed a 40-knot cruise in [3- to 6-foot] swells. Lux­ury should never com­pro­mise the func­tion­al­ity of the prod­uct.”

With Otam’s 58- and 80-foot mod­els gain­ing fans (es­pe­cially since Mr. Brown turned heads at the boat show in Cannes last fall) the builder con­tin­ues to im­prove upon ef­fi­ciency. Newer builds of­fer two en­gines in­stead of four. Twin 2,600-horse­power MTU en­gines with Ar­ne­son drives now pro­pel the Otam 80 HT to 50 knots while burn­ing ap­prox­i­mately 238 gal­lons per hour—nearly half the fuel con­sump­tion of the four-en­gine al­ter­na­tive. To me, the fuel sav­ings alone seem well worth the 4-knot trade­off.

Tech­ni­cal­i­ties aside, to be hon­est, I’ve never been a speed guy. I’m quite con­tent cruis­ing at 15 knots on a trideck, or even at 6 knots on a trawler. But you don’t need to be a speed guy to ap­pre­ci­ate the engi­neer­ing and crafts­man­ship that go into a ves­sel like the Otam 80 HT. She of­fers a rare, well-ex­e­cuted com­bi­na­tion of so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy, ag­gres­sive­ness and el­e­gance.

She may not be for ev­ery­one, but rest as­sured: Shred­ding waves at 54 knots in to­tal com­fort and con­trol on a sexy 80-footer can be a thrill for any­one.

The bridge aboard Mr. Brown is mis­sion con­trol; Ev­ery de­tail of the Otam 80 is cus­tom­iz­a­ble; A stair­case be­tween the two bridge con­soles leads be­lowdecks to the ac­com­mo­da­tions. op­po­site: Ebony and teak with match­ing leathers give the main sa­lon a rich, co

ThIS PhoTo aNd rIGhT: De­signer Achille Sal­vagni’s in­tri­cate use of de­tail aboard Mr. Brown re­sulted in a mod­ish look and feel that rep­re­sents the essence of Ital­ian style. ToP: There’s a lot to like about rip­ping along at 54 knots in to­tal com­fort.

Warm wood tones and nat­u­ral light ac­cen­tu­ate the min­i­mal­is­tic de­sign of Mr. Brown’s mas­ter state­room, which yields sur­pris­ing vol­ume for an 80-foot sport cruiser. As with each of the yacht’s guest state­rooms, this one has an en­suite bath­room.

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