Who's gonna kill me!
Reviews and test drives

Who's gonna kill me!

Italian adventure with the yacht Maxi Dolphin


In the pursuit of beauty, all Italians are equal, but some are «more»equal. That's the Moretti family. Owning one of the largest building holdings in northern Italy, the head of the Vittorio Moretti family invests in projects designed to bring harmony and beauty to the world. Yes, it sounds a bit pathetic, but this is just the case when words do not diverge from the case.

One such business of the family is Maxi Dolphin Shipyard, where they build sailing and motor yachts for people with a developed sense of style.

Around and around

To try the Maxi Dolphin 51 Power, the most popular model of the shipyard, we came to sunny Tuscany with Sasha Culish (Yachts). Here, in the yacht club of Castiglione della Pescaya, is the «Ball Breaker» - MD51 of 2011 built, kindly provided by its owner for our «boats».

A few kilometers from the town is l'Andana, a five-star resort hotel belonging to «The Leading Hotels of the World». There we are received by Giuseppe and Veronica, representatives of Maxi Dolphin shipyard, as well as employees of Nakhimov company headed by Sergey Dobroserdov. Recently Sergey has been the official MD «evangelist» for clients from Russia and Monaco.

L'Andana is a real estate with an area of over 500 hectares. In the XVII-XIX centuries it was the summer residence of the Medici family and then the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold II. Olive groves, vineyards, Alain Ducassa's restaurant, spa center, golf course and even our own chapel for weddings - together with positive, unobtrusive service all this makes a deafening impression on us, who have just escaped from the gloomy metropolis.

This magnificent estate, as can be easily guessed, also belongs to the Moretti family.

Aquagiusto wines are also produced here: the wineries are another family business. More than 3 million bottles a year are produced from the Moretti cellars. Local Vermentino and Rosato flow easily like compote in a pioneer camp. All this together brings us in the perfect mood to meet the boat.

First approximation

Even at the marina, being at rest, the MD51 is already attracting attention. Squeezed on both sides by large white boats, it differs from the neighbors by its subtle stern lines and the unusual hull color of the «sea wave overcast day».

The appearance of the boat is exactly what is needed for those who understand the meaning of beautiful things: non-standard enough and even a little aggressive to attract attention. At the same time, it is not extremely futuristic, and does not fall into too loose, impractical «cyberpunk».

As you enter the ship, it is clear that the content here is not inferior to the form. Being inside the boat is even more interesting than seeing it from the outside. Straight from the transom, a large sunbathing area begins, turning into a spacious cockpit. Traditionally for boats like «the Open», it is divided into a control station area and a «hangout area» with a common table and sofa section.

An interesting solution is the hardtop, which is open from the stern side: it will protect in moments of rare Mediterranean rain, as well as from splashes on the too zealous wave, but will not create unnecessary «greenhouse effect» in the remaining 99% of cases. Due to the lack of releases, there's a little lack of access to the bow platform on the move, but as they say, nobody's perfect. But nothing spoils the minimalistic, sculptural forms of the body.

Through a sliding door of darkened plexiglass we get inside the boat, into a large salon where we can stand at full height. In fact, it is a full-fledged cabin to which the whole crowd can safely move if the evening outside «is no longer languid». Here on starboard, one above the other, there are two extra beds. By simple manipulations, they are separated from the salon by a retractable wall.

The main compartment of the interior, the owner's cabin, is located forward. It is almost as spacious, with its own bathroom and wide aisles around the queen-size bed. There is sufficient daylight through a large hatch in the ceiling.

It should also be noted that the boat has another small cabin for the captain with a separate entrance on the port side in the cockpit.

The main thing that catches your eye is the generous use of space: instead of pushing «in» another cabin, the designers have made the space more spacious.

The MD51 will not be the first and only boat in the family. It's a hedonic work of art to be matured to.

"Ideally, the MD51 can be a tender for a mega yacht or «an» appendage to a house on the Côte d'Azur," says Sergei Dobroserdov, "if this is the second option, we will take care of all the storage and maintenance of the yacht in Monaco. All you have to do is drive to Hercule port to the Monaco Marine dock next door to the yacht club and hand over the keys to the hostesses. A refueled yacht in perfect condition is always waiting for you at the berth. If you need a skipper, no problem. If you plan to use the yacht in winter, we'll leave it on the water, if not, we'll move it to a warm dock." The Nakhimov service corresponds to the status of this million euro toy.

However, she is also capable of distant independent cruises. The owner of «Ball Breaker», on which we are aboard, Lawrence Graff, founder of Graff Diamonds, took it last year to Greece.

Main course

It's time to try MD51 in business. Thanks to the Volvo Penta Joystick system, it's easy to get away from the dock. The 15 meter boat is no more difficult to control than a Vespa moped. Even from the overpopulated Mediterranean marina, she sails with the perfect ease of a gold medalist in figure skating.

As soon as we find ourselves in the open sea, the captain puts the engine pens all the way forward. The conditions are ideal for the picky dough: in spite of the weather, sunny day, a quite fresh breeze blows and gives us a small but well felt oncoming «chop». Despite this, the MD51 enters the cruising 30 knots and then accelerates further up to the maximum 38 knots. At such speeds, even a small counter-wave hit is not a joke, but our baby passes through them like an infusion. Despite the fact that this is a half-open boat, the noise of the engines at full speed is quite comfortable to talk almost without raising your voice.

Asking the captain for permission, I get behind the wheel and immediately make a steep turn to the right, trying to write a killwater jet letter «O». The MD51 carefully picks up this calligraphic exerce.

At some point we stand up as a flag to the wave, losing «solid ground under our feet»according to all laws of physics. But the boat feels almost no trick and quietly passes from crest to crest without any «swelling». Almost immediately I move rudder to the left, on the move turning figure behind stern into letter «S». It is here that the watershed between ordinary boats and outstanding boats passes. In this case, the handwriting test is «excellent».

I see the fuel consumption - just over two liters per kilometre. Very good for a 50 footer. To fully understand the boat I give the rudder back to the captain and go down to listen to her work from the inside, from the «heart». The sound of the engines in the cabin is almost unheard, only the pleasant sound of water flowing through the hull is heard from all sides. Cutting the wave, the hull is a bit of a nudge, but it's not a weak tremor of helplessness, but the vigorous vibration of a well-tensioned string. About the same sensation I had inside «a loaded» sports sailboat with a carbon hull going full throttle.

Technical derogation

Despite being a motor yacht, the MD51 has distinct sailing roots. Until 2007

Maxi Dolphin


had only built sailing yachts. Around three hundred hulls have descended from the slipway in more than 20 years of the shipyard's existence. They all belonged to the «performance cruiser» class and have collected many prizes in regattas around the world.

Now the know-how from professional sailing is used in the design and construction of motor yachts. The set of materials and technology are inherited directly from the boats for the America's Cup. The hulls are vacuum-formed and «baked» at 85°C from the glass fibre prepreg. Speaking of this, Giuseppe proudly takes out a five-inch square, a hull «cutout». It's no heavier than foam by weight, but it looks very strong. The layers «of the sandwich»are clearly visible from the side, giving it stiffness.

The bulkheads and the top deck are made of even stronger carbon fiber - another «hint» from the big sailing sport.

The hull itself could have been made of this, but according to Giuseppe, Maxi Dolphin does not specifically do this to prevent the boat from becoming too «stiff» at the expense of comfort.


Meanwhile, 40 minutes flew by and we made it to Elba Island. Once upon a time, Napoleon was exiled here - and, it seems, suffered enormously. We anchor in the most picturesque bay east of Porto Azurro, a bowl of fresh strawberries and a bottle of Bellavista appear on the table. This sparkling wine from the Franchacorte region (another creation of the Moretti family) competes equally with the best Champagne wines.

A boat comes from the shore and takes us to the Calanova restaurant, recommended by the owner of the boat. The best way to get to him is from the water. Further sensations merge into a steep cocktail: the air and smells of the Elbe, a charming dog welcoming guests to the restaurant's berth and escorting them to the table, dishes from the freshest seafood, local «vermentino», lovely hosts and excellent company at the table.


At times like this» - say our Italian friends - «we usually say «Chi m'ammazza».


that mean, literally, «wh»o

»'s going to kill me? - Something like ours after that and it's not a pity to die.«

In fact, for the sake of these rare moments and need such a complex, demanding, sometimes capricious thing like a boat. And Maxi Dolphin people seem to understand that very well.


MD51 is available for test drives in Monaco in August and September through


Photo: l'Andana Tenuta la Badiola, Maxi Dolphin, Ivan Babich, and the author - on Instagram.

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