Yachts went on a voyage of discovery at the Cannes Yachting Festival, finally stepping on board Cantiere delle Marche’s flexible explorer, M/Y Aurelia.


One of the Cannes Yachting Festival’s most exciting launches was Cantiere delle Marche’s M/Y Aurelia.

Described as a new breed of explorer, we got to understand the concept first hand by passing in a RIB on the way to a sea trial. Here, berthed stern-to in Le Viuex Port, all we see is the proud, light blue hull of a superyacht, complete with exquisite stainless steel detailing and a bold style perfectly suited to the Cote de Azure. What we cannot see is Aurelia’s vast explorer-style aft deck, complete with a 3.5 ton crane. If Aurelia is ‘Monaco at the bow’, then she’s very much northern fjord at her stern. CdM call it the Flexplorer and she really is a versatile yacht suitable for all seasons and occasions.

Uplifting experience: The A-frame crane is a remarkable piece of engineering, purposely developed by CdM to help launch Aurelia’s 8.5-metre tender


In yachting terms, explorers are still relatively new. What started out as converted offshore supply ships and military vessels soon turned mainstream and CdM embraced the versatile yachts immediately. The shipyard was soon producing explorers of its own, such as the classic Darwin Class and the sleeker Nauta Air. The current Flexplorer series is somewhere in between, mixing luxury and style with the ability to launch a 28-foot RIB tender, by crane.


The Flexplorer concept was created to appeal to owners who wanted to use their yacht for both entertaining and exploring; to reach remote corners of the world, or just dock in a marina and have one big party. Designed from a clean piece of paper, all the Flexplorer’s details are fresh, innovative and fun. Aurelia’s name is attributed to the Lancia Aurelia, a car which at the time was practical, but also far from ordinary.

Expertly designed: Sergio Cutolo, fouder of Hydro Tec, designed Aurelia’s bold exterior lines and developed her super-efficient naval architecture (not to mention her state-of-the-art engineering).


At the concept stage, it was decided that a 453 gross ton, 39-metre yacht would need some major grunt. Putting out 1,000hp each, Caterpillar C32A turbo diesels were perfect for the job and early sea trials had the Flexplorer hit 15 knots along with an impressive projected range of 7,000 nautical miles at 10 knots.

The reason for this is the naval architecture of Hydro Tec. Headed by founder, Sergio Cutolo, Hydro Tec’s engineers ran CFD simulations to ensure that everything, from the propellers to the stabilisers worked in harmony, verifying the results by testing the hull model in test pools.

“Aurelia ha a typical fast displacement round bilge hull, with a bulbous bow,” said Cutulo. “It’s deep and flared in its forward sections to keep the deck dry in all weather conditions – even the worst, and it allows for optimal space for the crew area and for the owner’s suite.”


One of Aurelia’s most impressive features is her huge aft deck mounted A-frame, which CdM developed in conjunction with AMS. A-frame cranes are usually designed to perform offshore load handling on ships, fishing, and research vessels, but for Aurelia, it is her tenders that need lifting. Launching a Williams Dieseljet 445 is no problem, but an 8.5-metre JokerBoat Clubman 28 EFB tender is another story. The full carbon fibre frame has a lifting capacity of over 3 tons and the whole structure, when not in use, is recessed into the deck floor and hidden underneath flush deck flaps.

AMS’ Francesco Pelizza commented: “Cranes are usually considered a nuisance as they ‘steal’ space and are not so nice under the aesthetic point of view. On top of that, when you deal with launching and hauling a heavy tender, there are heeling issues, as the weight force acts just on one side of the yacht. With the A-frame crane the tender is launched, or hauled, right astern and the yacht doesn’t heel at all. Furthermore, working behind the stern offers shelter, which allows operating in smooth waters.”


Thanks to CdM’s designers creatively utilising every inch of space, Aurelia’s interior volumes are huge for a 40-metre yacht. For example, she has an asymmetric main deck layout with a single side passage to port. This allows the main salon to stretch right to the hull, increasing interior volume while allowing guests to get closer to the ocean. A huge galley keeps the chef happy to port with the Owner’s expansive suite, complete with office, lounge and  ‘his and hers’ bathrooms, housed in the forward section.

On the lower deck, instead of the classical four suite layout, Aurelia has three cabins, along with an additional laundry room, which significantly improves the crew’s speed of service.

Industrial design: The floor’s brushed oak, vintage feel, floor slats combine with slate, concrete, glass, iron and aluminium finishing and detailing.
New York loft look: Brown and charcoal grey hues are used for the fabrics and furniture, with weathered leather used for the sofas and chairs.

Aft of the engine room is the expansive gym and water toys storage area. Here, guests can keep their heart rates up running, cycling or lifting weights, bathed in natural light courtesy of the main deck skylights.

There’s another lounge on the upper deck, with the wheelhouse forward and up on top is Aurelia’s private Jacuzzi deck, again featuring a lounge with commanding views of the ocean.


As for the interior’s aesthetic, the Owner required a specific theme and look, and so, CdM turned to the creativity of Francesco Paszkowski in collaboration with Margherita Casprini.

“The brief for Aurelia was to create a peculiar interior. It had to reflect the owner’s personality,” says Paszkowski. “He doesn’t like a boat interior furnished with famous brand furniture, he likes objects and furniture which have a special feeling and vibe, which tell a story and have a flavour.”

LOA: 39.23m
Beam: 8.50m
Draught: (at full load) 2.60m
Displacement: (at full load) 392t
Main engines: 2x Caterpillar C32
Generators: 2x 80kW
Maximum speed: 14 kn
Cruising speed: 10 kn
Range at cruising speed: 5,000nm
Fuel: 60,000 ltr
Fresh water: 8,500 ltr
Classification: RINA C Malta Cross Hull
Mach Y (CH) Unrestricted navigation

Blessed with an industrial style, Aurelia’s brown and charcoal colourway matches the brushed oak floorboards which have been cut to different widths to give an irregular, repurposed look. Concrete – yes, concrete – is used on walls, ceilings and panelling, while the industrial theme continues with brass piping, old-fashioned industrial box light switches and vintage leather.

Incredibly, every major item of furniture has been rescued from a previous life, or at least has been inspired by a vintage piece. Daybeds and benches resemble old wool mattresses, recreated in precious Ralph Lauren fabrics; there is a lamp whose mantle once adorned an airfield as a landing light, discovered in a flea market in Florence; the model of a Spitfire and a few exquisite pieces of art and paintings hanging on the walls. “This design gave us the opportunity to explore unprecedented design solutions on board,” commented Paszkowski and in the process, all teams involved in Aurelia’s design and construction have created one of the most distinctive superyachts on the water.