A closer look at Dragon: the 80m Columbus Classic superyacht

Written by Justin Ratcliffe

SuperYacht Times recently paid a visit to the Palumbo Superyachts’ Ancona shipyard to take a closer look at Dragon, the 80-metre Columbus Classic due for delivery early next year.  Columbus Classic 80 exterior designAt 79.50m in length with a beam of 13m and rated at over 2,100GT, the Columbus 80m Classic – now called Dragon – is easily Palumbo’s largest new-build yacht project to date. The steel hull was barged 700 miles from the Group’s shipyard in Naples to Ancona in July last year. On arrival, she was united with her aluminium superstructure and entered the new 100-metre construction shed for fitting out. She is about 80% complete with the main machinery installed and tested, the laying of the teak decks in progress and her interior well advanced. 

“By constructing the hull and superstructure in parallel in Naples and Ancona we were able to maintain the quality standards required by such a demanding project and reduce the delivery time for the owner,” says Gianpaolo La Penna, Palumbo’s project & product manager. “With yachts of this size and volume, you’re basically building a ship, which is where we can draw on our experience in the design and construction of commercial vessels."Columbus Classic 80 Dragon exterior designPhoto: Palumbo GroupExamples of this efficient approach to yacht building include the bathrooms in the LY3-compliant crew cabins on the lower deck. These were prefabricated and installed as ‘plug-and-play’ wet units that could be quickly hooked up to the piping and electrical systems. The two-tier engine room also has a functional, ship-like layout with a dedicated pump room where equipment like compressors and boilers are kept separate from the main engine room.

Dragon is also the biggest project to be built for the team at Hydro Tec, responsible for the naval architecture, exterior styling and general arrangement. Started on spec in 2012 and sold in 2016, the original project was several metres shorter and Hydro Tec was called in to revisit the design and engineering and completely upgrade the layout. The resulting technical platform will serve as the basis for future 75m-plus projects by Palumbo Superyachts.Columbus Classic arriving in Ancona “The challenge was to deliver a completely integrated design in a short time frame after the sale,” says Sergio Cutolo, who heads up the Hydro Tec studio. “This required a very precise and structured approach from the planning point of view, also considering that the hull and superstructure would be built in different locations. In the event, when the two were joined, the piping and cable routes matched perfectly.”

Arranged on four levels plus an under-lower deck, the guest accommodation on the main deck comprises four double cabins with beds facing outboard and a full-beam VIP suite with private lounge (that can also serve as an extra cabin with en-suite bathroom). Dragon in-build Photo: Justin RatcliffeAft of the lobby, the main salon and dining room are bordered by full-height side windows. The largest of these measures 6m x 2m and weigh around 1.8 tonnes each, requiring structural reinforcements in the deck and superstructure. The upper deck is reserved for the owner’s personal use. The forward suite has wrap-around glazing and direct access to a private lounge area on the foredeck and the helipad. The apartment further includes a large office, separate dressing room and a sauna. 

Overlooking the open aft deck on the bridge deck is a panoramic gym arranged around a massage room and beauty parlour. The wheelhouse is also designed on ship-like principles with a walkway in front of the instrument console to provide optimal visibility and a Portuguese bridge in front of the windscreen (this area is also fitted out as a relaxation area for the captain and officers when the yacht is at anchor or moored in the marina). Dragon exterior design Photo: ISA YachtsThe highlight on the sun deck is a six-metre pool with integrated hot tub and waterfall feature cascading from the overhanging roof structure. The guest lift serves all deck levels from the lower deck to the sundeck. In addition to the transom platform, the beach club has fold-down side platforms and is equipped with a sauna and hammam that can be used by guests while the yacht is underway. 

Amidships on the starboard side is a side-loading garage for two tenders, including a 9.5m custom limo tender being built by ISA to mirror the styling of the mothership (the rescue tender and four PWCs are housed in a tender garage on the forward main deck.) Adjacent to the tender garage on the port side is a pro-spec galley with walk-in fridge/freezer and a service lift that can take a food trolley.  Dragon in-build Photo: Justin RatcliffeThe rest of the lower deck is taken up by the crew accommodation and crew mess. Water-level access on the starboard side means that guests can alight from the tender and take the lift straight to their cabins on the deck above. Next to this entrance is a staff cabin fitted out to the same standard as the guest cabins. The under lower deck houses a full-size laundry, extensive cold/dry storage, and a crew gym and media room.  

Interior renderings have not been released, but the sophisticated and calming decor by Francesco Guida is based on contrasting light and dark oak veneers, American walnut for the parquet flooring and satin-gold finished door handles and lighting fixtures. Natural and moonlight Travertine marbles feature throughout, while the beach club features backlit surfaces of semi-precious agate. ISA Palumbo shipyard in AnconaPhoto: ISA YachtsPalumbo continues to invest in its Ancona facility and another new construction shed for building up to 60m should be in operation by the autumn. Between its Columbus and ISA brands, Palumbo Superyachts currently has eight projects in build ranging in size from 80 metres to 76 feet (all sold except for an ISA Extra 76 being built on spec and a 67-metre sistership to Okto). An announcement is also expected shortly on Palumbo’s bid to acquire the Mondomarine shipyard in Savona. Palumbo Superyachts Refit has a six-month lease on the site that is due to end at the end of June.



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