The owner of Rebeca, Benetti’s first 131-foot Oasis 40M, is a rare breed of waterman. Tim Ciasulli is both boater and yachtsman. Typically, the two only cross paths at the dock, the boater wind-blown and sunburned from bouncing around the ocean, and the yachtie looking like he just emerged from a spa. They are two very different worlds that Ciasulli navigates quite easily.
Ciasulli, who owns Planet Honda and several other businesses in New Hampshire, grew up on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey, developing the water gene at a young age. “I was always attracted to speed on the water,” he says. “When I was in sixth grade, my parents bought me a 13-foot Boston Whaler, which was marketed as unsinkable.” He sank two—by running them so hard and fast in big waves on the lake the transoms fell off. “My parents refused to buy a third,” he says.
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Following the Whalers came a succession of ever-larger and ever-faster boats that led to a career in offshore racing, where Ciasulli established four world speed records, including the fastest-ever run around Manhattan, blasting down the Hudson River at 185 mph—or, in more relatable stats, at 246 feet per second.
Ciasulli, who lived in South Florida in the early ’80s, raced his boats on high-performance circuits during the height of the Miami Vice era. He piloted both high-horsepower monohulls and faster, lighter catamarans to victory in many races. But there were also mishaps: In one event, his raceboat torpedoed under water at 120 mph, tearing an 8-foot hole into his foredeck. His throttleman had to be air-lifted to a hospital, while Ciasulli suffered a detached kidney.
By 1989, married, with three kids, Ciasulli decided to retire from racing and limit his boating to slower motoryachts. “I spent a big part of my life going fast, and sadly, I’d lost many friends,” he says. “It was time to slow down.” The second phase came a decade later, when he came back with a vengeance, winning the runner-up spot in the 1999 World Championship. A year later, he won the US National and World Championships in the Superboat class (the biggest, baddest boats on the race circuit) and in 2001 was the National Champion. the record run around Manhattan just two days before 9/11.
Considering her size, Rebeca is a remarkably fast superyacht, with a top end of 18 knots. But Ciasuli and his wife, Rebeca, for whom the boat is named, were more attracted to the unusual design. London-based designer RWD created a first-of-its-kind exterior, featuring a 950-square-foot stern area that serves as a legitimate oasis. The designers not only moved the aft portion of the yacht down to the water’s edge, but created fold-out “wings” on either side that extend the yacht’s 27-foot beam by another 10 feet.
“It’s a very different feeling on the rear of this boat,” says Ciasulli. “On most, you can’t sit at the stern because of the engine exhaust and spray. But this is protected. You sit facing backwards instead of forward, right at water level. The speeds are slow enough that you can really see the ocean around you. It’s like riding a big surfboard.”
This stern area—or, as Benetti calls it, the “beach”—also has a 75-square-foot infinity pool, sun lounges and “transformer” steps that lower down into the water for swimming, or easy access to the tender or water toys. At night, the beach dresses up to become an open-air social area.
Beyond the beach, Rebeca’s open spaces extend across the exterior, including the flybridge and foredeck. But what is most notable about the design is the seamless transition between interior and exterior. The designers were careful to use teak flooring in the salon, for instance, to match the outer decks. Big windows infuse the interior with plenty of natural light. “But what really blurs the lines between inside and out are the large doors,” says Ciasulli. “They give the boat a unified feel.”
Rebeca is the first yacht project for New York-based Bonetti-Kozerski Architecture. Partner Enrico Bonetti focused on opening up the interior with a warm, minimalist look that is more residential than traditional nautical. Calling the interior “masterful and uncluttered,” Ciasulli loves the flow between the rooms, including the salon which has a dining area and bar cabinet. “The volume and spaces make you feel at home,” he adds.
Bonetti dressed the interior subtly, using Calacatta and Vagli marble, teak, rosewood and white lacquer, along with muted colors. The Ciasullis worked with Benetti Design Center to choose the furniture and other décor, including the salon bar cabinet that opens to reveal a backlit onyx panel.
Rebeca’s five-stateroom layout includes a full-beam master suite, with a walk-in closet and twin-sink en-suite, as well as four cabins for the crew and a separate captain’s quarters. The yacht’s minimalist, sci-fi-inspired helm is easily the coolest of any yacht launched this year, consisting of a single chair with two small consoles in front, and a steering wheel that is only four inches in diameter. Quite the contrast to the crowded, console-heavy, ship-like pilothouses of most yachts.
The Ciasullis did their shakedown cruise on Rebeca last summer in Italy, cruising the coast for a month, stopping in Sardinia and Elba, and even anchoring in scenic coastal towns like Portofino. The 131-footer handled big seas well, and with stabilizers, provided comfort at anchor. “She sips about a quarter of the fuel of my prior yacht,” says Ciasulli. “She moves through the water with such grace and quietness. She really exceeded our expectations.”
The new Benetti will be transported back to the US in the spring, where she will be paired with a 43-foot Midnight Express center console, painted the same colors as the mothership. With five 450 hp outboards, this “tender” will have a top speed exceeding 100 mph. Ciasulli says the Midnight Express will make it much faster to get back and forth from the yacht to out-islands in areas they plan to cruise, like the Bahamas.
But one wonders if it’s more about fulfilling the Jekyll/Hyde sides of his waterman’s personality—the go-fast boater and yachtie—with two of the top designs on the ocean. “Im fortunate that I get be both,” says Ciasulli. “The common denominator is what we all yearn for–to be one with the sea.”
Here are Rebeca‘s other highlights.
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