The real test of a yacht’s credibility is not on launch day, fresh from the yard and in her Sunday best; it comes six months on, away from the prying eyes of everyone but the owner and his family, of those who have lived and breathed the yacht in all kinds of conditions. In quantitative terms, the all-aluminium Quinta Essentia, the 55-metre Heesen launched last year, has certainly been busy. The owner’s daughter reels off the itinerary thus far: “After my wedding in Capri last June we cruised to Sardinia, and then on to Corsica. In August we were in Greece, and at the end of August Croatia for my honeymoon. After attending the Monaco Yacht Show we cruised back to Sardinia for a week. Then in November we went to Lanzarote and we celebrated the New Year in Cap Verde,” she says.

Sea miles are the best recommend of a yacht’s talents: Quinta Essentia is clearly owned by a very happy family. This experienced yacht-owning family had previously linked up with Heesen for Celestial Hope, their 47-metre semi-displacement. Indeed, it was in 2007 while Celestial Hope was still in build that the owner started to investigate the notion of a bigger yacht. “We were on the plane over to the yard and the owner made a sketch – he wanted a fast yacht with a very big owner’s cabin, a waterfall and pool, balconies and a deck dedicated to gym and spa. That became Quinta Essentia,” says Sergei Dobroserdov of Nakhimov Yachts, who project-managed both builds.

Frank Laupman of Omega Architects was brought on board at this stage. “I was given a sketch, a patchwork profile of a yacht with a big square hole in it!” says Frank. “But this expressed the owner’s desire to look out freely from anywhere on board. Everything about the yacht was big.” In fact, Quinta Essentia is Heesen’s biggest yet, a graceful presence, and with something of the athlete in her poise on the water and in her toned superstructure. The performance is pretty sporting, too: twin 4,300kW MTUs deliver a 24-knot top speed.

The family have clearly approached the new project with a thoroughly open mind. Gone is the set-piece dining table in the main salon (so often a neglected area on board, simply because yachts offer many more convivial, less formal places to eat). It was a case of the owner deciding that he only dines on board with friends and that he wants them on the bridge deck, where it is more comfortable. With no state banquets to serve, the galley has been transported to the lower deck, creating more main-deck space for the owner’s suite. Outside and inside, there are many places to gather in groups or to grab a quiet moment with a book. On the bridge deck there is a range of spa facilities, with a gym, sauna and steam room, while the main salon – without the formality of a dining table – has a relaxed ambience, the perfect location for cosy conversation. This is a yacht that is full of options for those on board.

Inside, the first thing that impresses you is the amount of natural light, with the bridge deck lounge and owner’s suite benefiting from glass balconies and bulwarks. The generally light materials used for carpets and upholstery combine with the clever use of glass to create an illuminating whole. “The interior décor of Celestial Hope had a distinct feeling of the Hamptons but we wanted something more amazing for our new vessel,” says the owner’s daughter. “Because we wanted something radical, we asked Ken Freivokh for a revolutionary interior. We loved it, but we also wanted a feminine and elegant touch, which is why we chose to refine the décor with Michela Reverberi.” It is, perhaps, an unusual combination but it works very well. Ken Freivokh’s signature is in the dramatic glass stairs, flooring and elevator; Michela Reverberi’s input on the wall surrounding the staircase supplements this with silver-painted curved glass from Pictet, creating what Reverberi herself describes as “an ice cascade”. She says that she took her inspiration from those “unexpected sources of light” on board.

On the main deck this is best illustrated in the vast owner’s suite, a space which the off-centreline bed opens up considerably. There is no owner’s office as such, though there is a dedicated laptop station to port. The balconies offer a wonderfully discreet escape. Riverberi has added some silver flourishes – the material used for the cushion covers and the bedspread – to make the most of the natural light. The bridge deck lounge is another space where radical rethinking has paid off. The main dining table aft is by the arc of opening doors, with all the outside/in possibilities that creates. A sofa area mirrors the configuration from the main salon, and there’s also a baby grand piano.

So what of the yacht’s name? “It’s my mother’s idea,” says the owner’s daughter. “Originally she wanted to christen her ‘The Fifth Element’. We liked the idea, but it sounded too cheesy! So we started playing with the concept using different words in different languages and ended up with something in Latin. The ‘fifth element’ for my family is wine: a love of wine, and the making of wine, is the essence that unites our family. And in addition to this, to make wine you need the four elements.”

That love of wine is also embodied in the yacht’s dramatic hull colour, which the owners developed with Dobroserdov Design – a colour the owner’s daughter describes as “a metallic red merlot”. (The yacht’s custom 7.5-metre Vaudrey Miller tender is also in metallic merlot, as well as displaying a number of hints of the mothership’s hull shape.) It’s rare to find a yacht’s name that is something more than just a pleasing label; something that in fact serves as a narrative thread running through the whole project and inspiring everyone who worked on her. “The philosophy that inspired my design on board was the ‘quinta essentia’– the ethereal fifth element that combines all the other elements,” says Michela Reverberi. “You can see this in the owner’s suite, where I chose silver to reflect the other elements. I also used the ‘four elements’ theme in the guest cabins – water for the VIP, air for the twins – though I kept the references to the theme ‘soft’ as I didn’t want it to become too allegorical.”

Whatever the philosophy, that is a yacht that is working very well as a space for the family and for charter guests. The owner’s daughter highlights her favourite places to spend time on board as “the Jacuzzi on the foredeck at sunset, and the big dining table in the upper salon, where we usually dine”. And like any successful yacht, Quinta Essentia is already producing great memories: “My favourite cruise was my honeymoon in Croatia with our eight best friends. We loved the islands and the mainland. We cruised from Dubrovnik to Venice and it was a great experience.”

Plans for the summer include a return to Croatia and a cruise to the Greek islands. “Then my father would like to go to Norway and Sweden to follow the regattas of our sailing racing team,” she says. The yacht will also be available for selective charters through Nakhimov Yachts. Even when the weather hasn’t delivered, Quinta Essentia has still been a great place to spend time. “In the Cap Verdes the weather was very rough, with strong winds and crazy waves, so we didn’t really go anywhere. We basically spent our time fishing and eating the fish we caught! The most important thing for us is being together, so the holiday was perfect anyway.”

And she adds: “Seeing the land from the water is a completely different experience, a completely different way of travelling the world. But in general for me it does not really matter where we are as long as we are all together. I consider Quinta Essentia a sort of nest for me and my family, the place where we gather with our beloved ones.”

Quinta Essentia is the result of a family who wanted their yacht to be the very best element in their life, rather than just a trapping or a toy. You won’t find anyone disputing the notion that they have produced just that. Quinta Essentia remains, like a Fourth Grace or a Sixth Sense, something unexpected, surprising and unique.


Length overall 55.00m (180ft 5in)
Beam 10.30m (33ft 9in)
Draught 3.00m (9ft 10in)
Engine Twin 4,300kW (5,766hp) 20V4000M93L MTU
Berths Guests: 10. Crew: 6
Project management Nakhimov Yachts
Exterior styling Omega Architects
Interior designer Ken Freivokh Design/
Reverberi Interior Design
Naval Architecture Heesen Yachts/Van Oossanen & Associates

Top speed 24 knots
Cruising speed 22 knots
Range @ 12 knots 4,500 nautical miles

Builder Heesen Yachts
Charter Nakhimov Yachts
Charter rate €350,000pw

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