Leave it to a superyacht intended for racing and a yard experienced in high-speed water taxis and other commercial craft to complete a refit like clockwork.
Sticking to her planned five-month stay, Mari-Cha III recently departed Derecktor Shipyards' Connecticut facility. The yard was selected primarily for the favorable exchange rate of the dollar versus the euro, as Mari-Cha III had been in Europe late last year and was weighing options on both sides of the Atlantic. Another reason Derecktor specifically was chosen is because of its experience. While all three of its locations have handled a variety of vessels, the Connecticut yard regularly builds and refits ferries, tugs, fast fireboats, and more, in addition to yachts, up to 400 feet LOA and 600 metric tons.
The photo above shows the 44.7-meter (147-foot) Mari-Cha III during her post-refit sea trials on Long Island Sound in mid-April. Mari-Cha III arrived at Derecktor in December with the intention of replacing a variety of items, like tanks, the ventilation system, electronics, and hydraulics, as well as being repainted. The super maxi also received new piping, gensets, and headstays, the latter upgraded to ones from Future Fibres PBO with carbon furling foils by Solution. Even her crew took part in the refit, by replacing the rigging.
Another big part of the refit entailed redesigning the interior decor. When Mari-Cha III was built by Sensation Yachts in 1997, she featured a dark-wood, Edwardian theme from John Munford. Clear Group International, a company located near Derecktor’s yard, stripped the mahogany wood’s dark stain and refinished it in bright white. While the original traditional decor served the owner and guests well, he wanted a more minimalist-oriented decor this time around. The photos above and below, of the master suite’s before and after looks, respectively, give you a good idea of just how dramatic the transformation was. Clear Group International additionally placed a marble cover over the master bath’s vanity.
One thing that didn’t change: the ability to dismantle the interior come race time to make room for 25 crewmembers and save weight to gain speed. While the master stateroom and crew staterooms are excluded from this, suffice it to say that when Mari-Cha III is converted, the difference is amazing. Imagine a yacht saloon complete with the usual seating areas and tables, plus bookmatched woodwork. Then imagine it shortly thereafter, barely recognizable as being part of the same yacht: without wood or furnishings, solely with space for racing crew to stow their gear.(Mari-Cha III has good, albeit tiny, before-and-after photos on her website, under the Conception tab.)
Mari-Cha III headed back to Europe for the summer season promptly after departing Derecktor. Chances are her crew took their time heading there, though if they wanted to, they probably could have tried for another transatlantic record. In 1998, the year after her delivery, she broke one of sailing’s most prized records. She went from New York to Lizard Point in the south of England in eight days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 41 seconds, to be exact, shattering the existing record. She also remains the fastest yacht in the Sydney to Hobart race since December 1999, when she covered the race course in one day, 18 hours, and 27 minutes.