Efficiency. Economy. Subtlety. Three words that were thankfully not in ISA Yachts’ design brief when the shipyard created its Sport 120 Series. We head to Cannes to put this triple water jet muscle-yacht through its paces.

Steve Chalmers

Walking along Le Vieux Port’s Jetée Albert Edouard, we make small talk with ISA Yachts’ Laura Carboni. We’re here to seatrial hull #11 of ISA’s Sport 120 Series and as we near the 36-metre Clorinda, talk turns to her triple waterjets, which leads me enquire about her fuel consumption. “We don’t talk about that.’ Was Laura’s reply, which she said with a totally straight face, leaving me in some confusion as to whether she was joking, or not. Turns out, she wasn’t.


For those not entirely up to speed on ISA’s Sport 120 Series, her sporty-but-sleek looks are subtly deceiving. Yes, her updated dark colour fashion plates with glass inserts and the dark grey bottom line hint as to her power, as does the Porsche 911-esque shaped superstructure and spoiler-like radar arch. But, there are a number of superyachts in the 120-foot range that look reasonably similar in style, however most of the Sport’s competitors only have two engines turning two propellers.


In the words of Laura: “The Sport 120 was designed by people who know what they’re doing, and enjoy what they do.” This is immediately clear when you take a peek under Clorinda’s metaphorical bonnet. Whereas you only really need two big turbo diesels to propel a 36-metre superyacht through the waves, the 120 has three – and they just happen to be MTU 16V 2000 M96s. Here, the clue to their size is subtly hidden in the name, as the 16V is not an indication of the amount of valves, but instead the reversal of V16. Yes, that’s 48-cylinders, 105-litres and 7200 horsepower, that combined with two outer Rolls-Royce Kamewa 71S3 waterjets and one centrally mounted Kamewa 56B3 booster jet gives the superyacht a top speed of 34-knots, a cruise speed of 27 knots and the hourly fuel consumption of a small Scandinavian fishing village.


But enough of the spec-sheet, what does this powertrain equate to in real life? Well, we’re on Clorinda’s aft deck lounge waiting for the off. The crew’s bringing the lines in, so… we must be up and running? Considering the three V16 monsters lurking in the deck below, there’s no sound and no discernible vibration. And then quite literally, we’re off. By the time I’ve got my note pad out we’re 60 meters from the dock and heading out into the Golfe de la Napoule.

Normally, at this time, I head up to the helm to join the captain and get a couple of comments on what he thinks of his steed, but as we quickly gain speed, I settle down on the aft deck sofa and watch one of the most spectacular sights in yachting: three Rolls-Royce waterjets pushing 7200 horsepower worth of French Riviera out from under the swim platform.

Soon, at full throttle, three distinct and very angry funnels of jet-assisted water are pushing us along at a ridiculous rate for a 36-metre superyacht. The sight and sound of the jets of water hammering out the Kamewas is nothing short of awe-inspiring and beats even the spectacle of Pershing’s surface drives. All I can say is, if I’m ever in the position to spec-up my own superyacht, it will have three massive MTUs, three Rolls-Royce waterjets and an aft deck lounge with a rear-facing sofa.

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Back at Le Vieux Port, and it’s time to actually have a look around Clorinda and yet again, there’s a wonderful detail that adds to the 120’s character. From the swim platform looking up, the port and starboard staircases appear to stretch right up to the flybridge in a continuous flow. It’s all an optical illusion though, as the aft deck lounge, with its unusual triple-table, quadruple sofa layout breaks it up.

Either way, it’s an impressive sight – especially at night, when it’s lit up with LEDs. Heading into the main salon and the 120 continues to surprise. At the entrance is a curved sliding door which leads to a 10-seater dining table. This is usually located forward, but here, it makes the most of the panoramic view looking aft. Forward, the bar area is ideally placed to serve both the diners and the loungers, with the main salon’s L-shaped sofa providing Clorinda’s guests with the ideal post-dinner rendezvous.

Heading forward along the starboard side lobby, we find the stairway leading up to the raised pilothouse with the entrance to the Owner’s Suite, forward. Here, ISA has utilised the entire bow area, right up to the forepeak, splitting the suite into three sections over two levels. The bedroom, with its soft fabrics and warm cream and chocolate colourway is bathed in natural light, again, courtesy of the three very large rectangular windows that stretch all the way to the forepeak.

Two tier suites always have an a feeling of sophistication and as you step down in to the bathroom, the colourway stays the same, but the carpet makes way for dark wood flooring and the gloss white ceiling lights up the marble wash-hand basin. The centrally located shower splits the Owner’s WC (to port) and walk-in wardrobe (to starboard), making the entire suite feel exceptionally spacious.

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LOWER DECK Heading aft to the lobby, we take the short hop down Clorinda’s staircase to her lower lobby foyer. Here we find two twin guest cabins forward, with two VIP cabins aft of the lobby. This layout means the crew is treated to the area aft from amidships, with the captain’s cabin and the two crew cabins joined by a dinette galley.

Often, the crew gets housed in the bow, which isn’t the most spacious or comfortable of areas, so to get a much larger living area is a bit of a luxury. But then, as they say: ‘Happy crew, happy ship; happy ship, happy Owner’.

Adding to the guests’ comfort is the location of the tender garage, which is aft of the crew cabin. Not only is it a neat way of storing the RIB, but it means that there are three bulkheads between the guests’ ears and three MTU turbo diesels. The rather full engine room takes up any beach club space, and where you could fit a couple of sun loungers and a minibar behind the transom door, there’s a centrally-mounted Rolls-Royce water jet. We’ll take the water jet.

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There are three bulkheads sitting between the guests’ ears and the three angry MTU turbo diesels.

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SUNDECK Accessible via the two ‘infinity’ aft stairways or through the Raised Pilot House’s aft central stairs, Clorinda’s sundeck is the place to be at anchor. Aft is a completely open sunpad, with a slightly less open dining table located centrally. The 120’s slimline radar arch is the perfect size for covering diners, but allows the rest of the sundeck to be bathed in the sun’s rays, refreshing, as there are an awful lot of superyacht sundecks on the market that are as sunny as a Norwegian winter. A bar and Jacuzzi can be found forward, with the navigation helm’s commanding position ideal for marina maneuvering.

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ISA’s Sport 120, with her heady mixture of unashamed luxury, quirkiness and all-out performance makes her one of the most characterful superyachts on the water. Her nonformulaic layout, with her reverse main salon and double level Owner’s suite sticks in the mind, as does her unashamedly open sun deck.

It is her performance though that really makes Clorinda stand out. Sitting on the rear facing sunpad at full throttle and feeling the force of the water being propelled out of the Rolls-Royce waterjets is mesmerizing. Without the triple MTU/Kawema propulsion, Clorinda is an intriguing luxury yacht, but with them, she’s really something else.