Into the Blue

The 220-foot Benetti Seasense is a true ex­pres­sion of her own­ers’ cus­tom vi­sion.

Yachts International - - Contents - BY JILL BO­BROW

be­moaned Charles Co­hen’s 11-year-old son when it was time to leave Seasense af­ter two weeks in the Mediter­ranean. His la­ment was mu­sic to Co­hen’s ears, proof that his in­vest­ment in the 220-foot (67-meter) yacht, which took four years to build at Benetti, had paid off.

When Co­hen and his wife, Clo, be­gan their cus­tom project, the cou­ple’s chief de­sire was to cre­ate a home on the water for pri­vate fam­ily time. They con­sider the water to be a sooth­ing respite and wanted their yacht to re­flect a true sense of the sea.

“I never heard the name Seasense any­where be­fore,” Co­hen says. “What I like about it is it’s so sim­ple. It is so right on the money as to what the ex­pe­ri­ence should be.”

The yacht’s ex­te­rior de­signer, Cor D. Rover, of the Nether­lands, echoes that sen­ti­ment.

“Life at sea, to me, is all about feel­ing this gen­tle breeze, smelling the fresh and salty scent of the ocean, all from your float­ing ter­race,” Rover says. “I per­son­ally have never un­der­stood why so many yachts have enor­mous in­side vol­ume com­pared to lim­ited out­side deck space. Why would you leave your air-con­di­tioned high-rise build­ing where you spend most of your work­ing days, and go to your yacht and sit in­side again?”

Be­fore sign­ing the build con­tract, Co­hen spent count­less hours scour­ing boat shows and re­search­ing de­sign­ers and builders. Af­ter ink­ing the deal, the cou­ple con­vened of­ten with Rover and Benetti to en­sure that their vi­sion would be ex­e­cuted. They had a list of no-no’s: heavy, dark, var­nished wood pan­el­ing; low ceil­ings; white car­pet­ing; bland neu­tral col­ors; a for­mal in­side din­ing room; a claus­tro­pho­bic gym stuffed in a closet.

Check, check, check and check again. Seasense is a pre­dom­i­nantly blue boat—royal blue, cobalt, peri­win­kle, cerulean, sap­phire, azure—to re­flect the sea and the sky.

“The shades of blue are like what you see on the hori­zon,” Co­hen says. “The darker blues are on the lower lev­els and be­come lighter and lighter as one heads to­ward the sun­deck … to­ward the clouds.”

Over­head heights are, at min­i­mum, 8 feet (2.4 me­ters) and rise to 10 feet (3 me­ters) in the mas­ter state­room. The silk car­pets are var­i­ous shades of blue. A din­ing ta­ble for 12 is on the main deck aft, and an­other al­fresco din­ing area is on the up­per deck aft. The gym has a prime lo­ca­tion on the top deck with a panoramic view.

The yacht’s blue swim­ming pool is sin­gu­larly strik­ing. It is among the largest pools ever built on any yacht, mea­sur­ing nearly 33 feet by 13 feet (10 me­ters by 4 me­ters), and is de­signed to be a fam­ily fo­cal point. The Co­hens’ four chil­dren range in age from 10 to 33, and the fam­ily is ex­pand­ing with the ad­di­tion of a grand­son. The pool is duly ver­sa­tile for the di­verse fam­ily mem­bers—it con­verts into a bas­ket­ball court with hoops and bas­kets.

“I fi­nessed the orig­i­nal de­sign lay­out of the pool by pulling it out from un­der­neath the over­hang to al­low it to be fully in the sun,” Co­hen says. “I also pre­vailed upon Benetti to lay the teak deck athwartships in­stead of fore and aft, to lend a feel­ing of more space.”

Co­hen also spec­i­fied that the teak planks be a bit wider than usual. And, in def­er­ence to weight con­cerns, he sug­gested an­gling the sides of the pool, which re­sulted in re­duced water vol­ume.

De­sign is the core el­e­ment of Co­hen’s real es­tate and prop­erty man­age­ment com­pany, Co­hen Broth­ers Realty, which owns the De­sign Cen­ter of the Amer­i­cas (DCOTA) in Da­nia Beach, Florida; the Dec­o­ra­tion and De­sign (D&D) Build­ing in New York City; the Dec­o­ra­tive Cen­ter Hous­ton in Texas; and the Pa­cific De­sign Cen­ter in West Hol­ly­wood, Cal­i­for­nia.

Given his port­fo­lio, one might imag­ine Co­hen to be a stereo­typ­i­cal ego-driven owner/de­signer/ar­chi­tect/builder, but he is ret­i­cent to blow his own horn. Soft-spo­ken and a good lis­tener, he is quick to credit oth­ers for the col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort that made Seasense what she is.

The yacht is Rover’s first with Benetti. Sev­eral years ago, he was among the de­sign­ers who an­swered the com­pany’s call for a de­sign to com­mem­o­rate Benetti’s 140th an­niver­sary. The builder em­braced his ideas, and Rover de­vel­oped a range from 164 feet to 295 feet (50 to 90 me­ters), all ded­i­cated to life out­side. The range be­came known as the Benetti Beach con­cept. For the Seasense project, Rover fine-tuned the main deck beach lay­out to suit the Co­hens.

“We wanted a yacht both con­tem­po­rary and time­less,” Co­hen says. “We feel Seasense’s sil­hou­ette, with its plumb bow, is both clas­sic and mod­ern with­out be­ing heavy or over­done.”

The Co­hens made more than 10 trips to the Benetti ship­yard in Livorno, Italy, to watch the Seasense project evolve. “Vin­cenzo Po­e­rio is such a gen­tle­man,” Co­hen says of Benetti’s CEO. “He was ex­tremely present and avail­able dur­ing the course of the build. When­ever we raised is­sues such as the teak deck­ing or the ceil­ing heights, Benetti re­sponded in a very pro­duc­tive way.”

For Seasense’s in­te­rior, the Co­hens con­tracted Area, a Los An­ge­les-based de­sign firm they knew from their com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties. Area had also con­sulted with the Co­hens on their pre­vi­ous yacht, a 92-foot (28-meter) Riva Duchessa, but Seasense was the firm’s first foray into a cus­tom yacht project. Co­hen gave Area prin­ci­pals Walt Thomas and Henry Gold­ston a clear di­rec­tive: “Make this yacht unique.”

“Charles did not want to repli­cate any­thing that he had ever done be­fore,” Thomas says, “so our mis­sion was to be orig­i­nal and not re­peat any­thing.”

More than 100 fab­rics, tex­tiles and ma­te­ri­als are aboard Seasense. “Charles and Clo made the whole ef­fort more fun,” Gold­ston says.

Co­hen says his art choices for the yacht are graphic-de­sign-re­lated and spa­tially ori­ented, each ideal for a spe­cific space. For in­stance, the ver­ti­cal lines of a Clau­dia Comte se­ries of draw­ings mir­ror the ver­ti­cal wi­d­ows in Rover’s ex­te­rior styling; Stu­dio Roso de­signed the mir­ror-pol­ished stain­less steel sculp­ture/chan­de­lier above the mas­ter bed to fit the room’s high ceil­ing.

To match the Co­hens’ life­style and pen­chant for cin­ema, the main-deck salon has a 98-inch flatscreen TV and me­dia cen­ter. The on­board film li­brary in­cludes many re­stored clas­sics.

For­ward of the salon are the for­mal lobby with an el­e­va­tor ac­cess­ing four decks, and a mar­ble stair­case with a blue wooden struc­ture and steel in­serts. The yacht ac­com­mo­dates 12 guests with the mas­ter suite and VIP state­room on the main deck, and four guest state­rooms on the lower deck. Aft on the up­per deck is a sky lounge with a cir­cu­lar in­side/out­side din­ing ta­ble, a bar and a built-in pizza oven. Crown­ing the top deck is a well-equipped gym with ac­cess to the

out­door for­ward-fac­ing spa pool. Co­hen is a self­pro­claimed fit­ness nut.

Per­haps most re­mark­able about Seasense’s con­struc­tion is that Co­hen kept it a se­cret, in­clud­ing from his own chil­dren. “The big re­veal,” he says, came last sum­mer at Club 55 in St. Tropez, where he ca­su­ally told his fam­ily, “Let’s take a boat ride out to the har­bor.” The restau­rant ten­der shut­tled them to Seasense. Co­hen in­vited his three sons to step aboard, and that was the start of their two-week sum­mer cruise.

The Co­hens’ mid­dle son need not have lamented about the worst day of his life when he had to leave the yacht. Many more fam­ily cruises are planned for this win­ter in the Caribbean and next sum­mer in the Mediter­ranean.

yachtsin­ter­na­tional. com

Top To boTTom: The el­e­va­tor in the gym has a fun ex­te­rior treat­ment of blue bub­bles; The sky lounge din­ing ta­ble out­fit­ted with Wal­ter Knoll din­ing chairs; Break­ing the blue rule with a touch of red and gray.

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