Italia Yachts's stated goal with the Italia 13.98 was to create a cruiser aboard which performance is as much a part of the "luxury equation" as the accommodations. This is, of course, something any number of builders have aspired to over the years with mixed degrees of success. However, in the case of the Italia 13.98, the result is a truly special yacht-which is why it was selected as one of the winners in SAIL's 2016 Best Boats contest.
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Topsides, the Italia 13.98's cockpit provides a blend of comfort and practicality. Starting right aft, the boat's traditional reverse transom includes a large drop-down swim platform that is electrically operated and easy to access between the split backstay and twin Jeffa helms.
Forward of that, there's a foldout cockpit table that can be easily struck and stowed beneath the sole or removed completely should you ever choose to do some racing. I especially liked the long, straight cockpit benches. Not only do they provide plenty of space for stretching out, but allow easy access for grinding the Lewmar primaries-in stark contrast to the many performance cruisers I've been aboard where it's surprisingly difficult to find an easy spot from which to get a decent grip on the winch handles.
All lines, from the halyards to the jib and main sheets, run below deck (even the A-sail tack line, which emerges as if by magic via a stainless lead on the stem) and a set of six retractable mooring cleats are set in a low, broad toe rail. Continuing forward, the lower shrouds are led to the edge of the low-profile cabin trunk, and the uppers are led outboard, allowing for an unobstructed passageway along the side decks. The anchor deploys on a retractable stainless sprit. Deck hardware is from Ronstan, with clutches from Spinlock.
The teak cockpit sole and optional teak side decks are vacuum-bonded to a thin fiberglass backing, which is in turn bonded to the fiberglass deck in the interest of ensuring an especially durable installation. Normally, I'm not a fan of teak side decks, given the extra maintenance they require. That said, they look absolutely gorgeous on the Italia 13.98, and given how well they're installed, I'd say they're worth it.
The layout belowdecks is fairly conventional, with an owner's cabin forward and mirror-image double quarterberths aft. The port quarterberth can be given over to storage-not a bad idea if you have any kind of long-distance cruising in mind. There's also the option for a pair of stacked single berths forward.
As is the case topside, what sets the accommodations apart is the quality with which they have been executed. The joinery, for example, is fabricated in a sleek, curvaceous style, which is not only great looking, but means there are far fewer corners to bump into when moving about in a seaway. Door frames all include seals to prevent them from knocking and banging, and the panels comprising the sole are installed with very small gaps between them to minimize creaking.
The L-shaped galley is a bit on the small side for a modern 46ft cruiser, but more than sufficient with its pair of Isotherm fridges and Techimpex oven and stove. The centerline seat at the dining table can be slid out of the way when not in use, and the table itself can be lowered to turn the starboard settee into a large double berth.
Engine access is excellent, both through the companionway steps and from the sides, with all filters, fills and belts close at hand. With an eye toward safety, the Itallia 13.98 is equipped with multiple fire suppression systems in places like the engine space, battery compartment and behind the electrical panel. A digital Philippi Systems Monitor makes keeping track of tankage and battery levels a snap.
It would have been a shame to not have a decent breeze for trialing the Italia 13.98, and I was not disappointed, as we had a steady, albeit oscillating 8 to 12 knots of wind and flat water on Narragansett Bay.
Close reaching under a full-batten tri-radial Dacron main and high-aspect jib, both built by OneSails, the boat easily clocked 6.7 knots in an 9-knot breeze, with our speed touching 8 knots in the gusts. All the while, the steering felt lively and sensitive, with just a touch of weather helm to keep you touch with what the keel and rudder were up to. Sightlines from the helm were excellent, and the mainsheet and winches were close at hand.
Even more impressive was the way the boat maintained its way as I pinched up to a 35-degree true wind angle. Not only was there almost no loss of speed, but the helm continued to feel satisfyingly firm. Bearing away to a broad reach, we maintained a healthy 8-plus knots in 10 knots of wind, despite not having an A-sail aboard to play with. Life off the wind with that extra canvas must be good, indeed!
The Italia 13.98's 55hp Volvo saildrive and three-blade Flexofold prop shoved us along at 5.6 knots when revved up to 1,500 rpm, with our boatspeed increasing to 8.25 knots at 2,600 rpm. Backing down and maneuvering at slow speed was matter-of-fact, even in a cross-breeze. A retractable bow thruster is also available for those keeping their boats in especially challenging marinas.
What more is there to say about a boat like the Italia 13.98? The combination of outstanding build quality, sparkling performance under sail and well-built accommodations is hard to beat. Any sailor fortunate enough to own this yacht will be lucky, indeed
When you step aboard, the Italia 13.98's commitment to performance and quality is readily apparent in such go-fast features as discontinuous rod rigging, a below deck Furlex headsail furler, Navtec hydraulic backstay control and a cleverly recessed main traveler running the width of the cockpit sole. The boat's standard triple-spreader spar is aluminum and built by Denmark's John Mast. A carbon mast and boom are available for those looking for an even greater performance edge.
Below the waterline, there hides a powerful, high-aspect semi-balanced rudder and an aggressive iron T-keel with a lead bulb: the latter is encased in carefully faired fiberglass to ensure the most efficient hydrodynamic shape possible.
The 13.98's hull is laminated in vinylester with unidirectional and biaxial E-glass and a PVC core. Italia also incorporated a system of carbon frames and stringers, which are both glued and laminated to the inside of the hull to ensure maximum rigidity. The cored E-glass deck is not just glued to an inward-turning flange on the hull, but entirely laminated from stem to stern, to ensure an exceptionally robust and leak-proof assembly.
Hull and deck built in sandwich laminated in vinylester resins with unidirectional, biaxials fibres and differentiated density PVC cores
Structural hull frame laminated with unidirectional carbon reinforcement on female mould
“T” keel with steel structure and lead torpedo. The structural part is covered by GRP fairings to get the perfect hydrodynamic shape
Rudder stock biconical made of anticorodal EN 6082 alloy with reinforcement blades.The blade is in sandwich of GRP with high efficiency wing sections
Self-aligning rudder bearings on rollers
Composite steering wheels painted white
Automatic fire fighting nitrogen system for engine room and electric system mainboard
Halyards and sheets in Dyneema DSK 78
Discontinuos ROD rigging with hydraulic pump for backstay adjustment and under deck furler
"T" mainsheet system under deck and dedicated winches
Ball bearing blocks and traveler cars
Folding bathing platform fiberglass/carbon laminated including retractable swimming ladder
Teak on cockpit and seats 10mm thick
Interiors finish in teak veneering with horizontal vein and door frames in curved strip planking
110v systemincluding battery charger and cable
Water heater 30 lt with heat exchanger from engine circuit, refrigerator 100lt, second refrigerator 130lt ASU front opening
Led navigation lights and interior lightening (included deck light)
Anchor windlass and stainless steel removable anchor arm, 50m chain D10mm, anchor Delta 20kg, 2 mooring lines 20m each, 2 mooring lines 10m each, 6 fenders
N° 5 cockpit lockers (one is dedicated to the liferaft) and sail locker
N° 6 Flush hatches including blind and flyscreen Oceanair
N° 6 openable portlights on coachroof with folding curtains Ocean Air
Hot/cold shower in cockpit
Antifouling application 3 layers and epoxy primer
N° 6 lifting cleats in stainless steel
Gates in lifelines
Removable cockpit table
3 blades folding propeller GORI with overdrive
Dinette lowering table with cuschion
Led boom light
Extra large stove Mariner de luxe with 3 burners
Stainless steel pedestalfor instruments
Air Condition 12000 BTU
Ball bearing trackless cars system for mainsail
Electrical halyards winch 45 (up price each)
Full Batten Radial Main Sail ( One Sails )
Jib Radial ( One Sails )
Sprayhood with stainless steel frames, Sunbrella fabric or similar (colour on choice),transparent windows and opening on frontal side
Lazy-bag (material Markilux, 80m rope Dyneema D6mm, 6 aluminium rings, 2 blocks on mast, 2 cleats on boom)
Electronic Package -B&G Transducers, Deep, Speed, Wind, 2 H5000 Displays, Hydra Procesor,rate compass
B&G Autopilot , VHF V50 with Ais receiver and Pedestal extension Vulcan Plotter 7" solo touch , WiFi Integrated