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Boating: Wider Blue Yonder

Michael Verdon

Founded by yachtsman Tilli Antonelli in the 1980s, the Italian brand Pershing came to define high-performance cruisers in the 40-to-120-foot range. The yard’s success led to its acquisition by Italian yachting conglomerate Ferretti Group in 1998, but Antonelli remained on board as president until last March. Now, however, having parted ways with Pershing, the industry pioneer has started a new boatyard—one that he hopes will redefine the weekend-cruiser category.

True to form, Antonelli launched in April what is perhaps the most versatile weekend cruiser ever built. The Wider 42, the first boat from Antonelli’s new Wider shipyard, features a high-performance hull and two powerful engines that make it capable of powerboat-like speeds. The 42-footer is also outfitted with a spacious and well-appointed sleeping area with a shower and head. But the Wider 42’s main attraction—and the impetus behind the company’s name—is its beam: Equipped with "wings" that fold down and out from the midsection, the space can nearly double in width to transform the 42 into a capacious playpen on the water.

"When you look at marinas, the boats look all the same," says Antonelli. "I first imagined what it would be like to be a buyer for a boat like this, and then designed all the features that would make it unique."

As Antonelli’s first attempt at a weekend cruiser, the Wider 42 is certainly unique in the category—and a marked departure from the covered, muscular yachts he designed at Pershing. He conceived the vessel for sporting boaters who want to host large groups, or megayacht owners who desire a spacious yet speedy tender. Speed comes courtesy of the twin-stepped performance hull and dual 480 hp Cummins motors (the more powerful of two engine options), which can push the Wider 42 past 50 knots.

Antonelli employed prepreg carbon-fiber materials for most of the hull and deck to help achieve a relatively light displacement of 21,000 pounds while maintaining a high level of strength and rigidity. These features enable the Wider 42 to reach a plane without excessive bow rise, with its Arneson surface drive kicking up a signature rooster tail as the boat speeds across the water.

While at anchor, however, this svelte speedster becomes a luxuriant party pad. With the push of a button, the wings lift out of the gunwales in the center of the cockpit, adding an extra 10 feet to its width, while floats drop into the water to create a stable platform with minimal roll. Antonelli developed modular inflatable pods that serve as full-size couches for the expanded space and can be deflated to wafer-thin proportions for storage. A carbon-fiber table lifts out of the floor for alfresco dining. A 1,400-watt, six-speaker sound system offers enough audio power to transform the deck into a dance floor.

The Wider 42 also features a spacious sun pad at the bow and is offered with an optional customized version of Sea-Doo’s top-of-the-line GTX Limited personal watercraft, which slides into the water from its dedicated storage space at the stern. Other attributes unique to the roughly $1.12 million boat—the first of three models Antonelli intends to launch under the Wider brand—include an intuitive touchscreen console and a camera that together allow for single-handed operation of the boat. However, considering the Wider 42’s expansive entertaining capabilities, the boat is best enjoyed in good company.

Wider,+39.0721.956077, www.wider-yachts.com