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Boating: Best of the Best Megayachts: Trinity Yachts

Fluto Shinzawa

Trinity Yachts
Last November, the 177-foot tri-deck Seahawk put out from the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, headed for Fisher Island, Fla., where the Trin-ity Yachts vessel was to be christened. Jim Mattei, Seahawk’s owner, invited his mother to break the bottle of Champagne over the yacht’s bow, and as the bottle shattered to a clatter of claps, Mattei rejoiced in the fact that Seahawk, which had taken three years to build, was finally finished. “To see his mother christening what is arguably the finest boat ever built in U.S. history was Jim’s happiest moment,” says Billy Smith, Trinity Yachts vice president.

Smith’s declaration of Seahawk’s unparalleled quality might seem biased, but yachting professionals who have viewed the yacht would probably agree with his assessment. Only a week earlier in Fort Lauderdale, Smith led a parade of brokers and designers on tours of Seahawk, the largest American-flagged aluminum yacht built in the United States. He showed them Seahawk’s fresh-air system, which refreshes the air on the boat three times an hour, keeping the yacht’s humidity at the desired level. Then Smith guided the guests through the engine room, describing how the yacht can cruise at 22 knots, or approximately 25 mph.

The tour culminated with an appreciatory survey of the boat’s artwork, mahogany inlays, and entertainment systems, including plasma televisions that rise from marble countertops for viewing. “It’s the total package,” says Smith. “You can’t excel in one area and drop the ball in another. This boat is designed to go to sea, safely and comfortably. If you don’t accomplish those two things, I don’t care how nice the interior is, it’s not a good boat.”  

Mattei, a former NASCAR team owner, wanted an American-made megayacht built to match the finest vessels of the northern European boatbuilders. He instructed Trinity to design and construct a yacht that would cruise at 20 knots and include a master stateroom, a VIP suite, and four guest staterooms. The New Orleans shipyard began to build the yacht, while Claudette Bonville, a Fort Lauderdale–based interior designer, began work on Seahawk’s interior.  

Mattei wanted an elegant and timeless look, and Bonville delivered. The focal point of the yacht’s interior is a central staircase that connects the three decks. The interior includes cherry, mahogany, and burl woodwork, a Steinway grand piano, and bookmatched marble. “You take marble, break it up into pieces to install on the boat, reassemble the marble on the boat, and match up the veins piece to piece,” explains Smith.  

Mattei visited Trinity several times during construction, changing some elements and approving others. After the christening, Mattei sailed the 177-foot yacht along the East Coast before selling Seahawk to another owner, who has since renamed the boat Katherine. After all, Mattei has bigger plans. “Seahawk is his dream boat,” Smith says. “But in the back of his mind, he was thinking, ‘Okay, this one’s good. Really good. But you know what? I can do it again. And do it better.’ ”  

Trinity Yachts, 504.283.4050, www.trinityyachts.com

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