Charles S. Cohen, the American owner of the recently delivered 67-metre Benetti superyacht Seasense, is an owner who certainly counters the sometimes negative connotations of the typical superyacht owner. Private to the core with just two interviews permitted following delivery, when I meet Cohen on board the shiny new Seasense on a beautiful day on the French Riviera, his passion, excitement and complete satisfaction with his new home on the sea is palpable. Boarding Seasense for the very first time, it’s impossible not to let your jaw drop at the enormous swimming pool you are immediately presented with on the main deck aft. “It knocks you out, right?” Cohen grins. “I really think so, and I don’t want to seem like I’m gloating, but that pool is incredible. The whole thing is incredible.” A very wealthy man, yes, but at that moment, with his eyes lighting up as he speaks about Seasense, nothing more than an excited yachtie: no bragging, no gloating, just pure excitement.
Coming from a high-rolling world of prime New York real estate and film production, a lack of narcissism may be a little unexpected from a figure like Charles Cohen. A regular in the public eye for both his film and real estate businesses, Cohen has not shied away from interviews or the media in the past, but when it comes to his boat - an extension of his family home - it’s a different story altogether. Seasense, it is immediately apparent, is a way to escape the relatively high-profile life he and his wife, Clodagh, lead, a perfect space in which they can create their own reality with their children and baby grandchild, an environment that is built for them and a way to achieve true freedom in the little time they can spare from their intense professional lives. “I sailed as a kid in summer camp and on holidays in small little sailboats. I’ve always loved motor boats and waverunners, canoeing and kayaking and fishing… I’ve just always loved the sea. It has a calming, soothing effect on me. You lose yourself when you’re by the sea. Things that may bother you on land somehow dissipate, and it allows you to reflect on life in a meaningful way,” Cohen muses.
But it’s not just the end product that has excited the Cohen’s. Both Charles and Clodagh were also heavily involved throughout the whole design and construction process. Their love for style and details in their yachting journey all started, they tell me, on a 44’ Riva. “I started with a 44’ Rivarama, which was just so beautifully designed. That’s really how I fell in love with Italian shipbuilding; the attention to detail, the beautiful finishes, the contemporary design, the great workmanship. From the 44’ I went to a 92’ Riva and we still have a 33’ Riva which we keep at home in the States.”
After being largely dissatisfied with many of the bigger yachts they had seen and visited but being very much bitten by the yachting bug - (“Every yacht we saw… they just weren’t us,” says Clodagh) - they decided to take the plunge and commission a brand new yacht from a yard whose name is synonymous with that Italian style, quality and flair they were looking for. But why straight in for the 67-metre new build, I ask? Was chartering superyachts or a used yacht, not an option? “I had the same thing when we built our house,” Charles asserts. “I just can’t wear someone else’s shoes.”
Speaking about the design and construction process, Charles continues: “Benetti came up with the initial design and we expanded upon that. Working with Benetti has been a dream experience for us. They were flexible, they were accommodating, they were persistent… It has just been a fabulous win/win for everyone. I definitely had a lot of input. I wanted a plumb bow, I wanted the pool at the back of the boat to be pulled out from under the shadow of the overhang, I wanted to be sure it had the dynamic style and lines that Benetti was developing. Cor D Rover is a fantastic designer, too, who was great to work with. They really allowed me to explore unconventional aspects of yacht building - evident with certain aspects of the boat such as the teak running width-wise as opposed to length-wise, very high ceiling heights everywhere, the swimming pool, and the connection with the outdoors. It’s all about outdoor living for us.”
For the interior design, the Cohen’s opted for an established interior design studio that Charles has worked with extensively over the past 20 years within Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation. Seasense was to be AREA’s first superyacht project, and as Cohen laughingly recalls, it wasn’t all smooth sailing in the beginning. “AREA has a very unique and classy, contemporary styling, and they’re wonderful to work with because they are so flexible. But I’ll be honest, the first presentation was terrible. We threw it out and we were actually thinking of firing them! Really. But they revamped it, overcame our concerns, worked with us closely on colours, materials and the design idea, and we got to where we are now. It was a journey, but I count myself privileged to be one of their clients.”
The end result? A family boat that is completely sculpted to the Cohen’s lives. The joy of Charles and Clodagh radiated during our time together, and it was hard not to share their happiness. After all, what is the point in working tirelessly towards success if the delivery of the world’s most aspirational assets doesn’t excite you? Have you achieved the ultimate dream with Seasense, I ask? “In a word: yes,” Charles confidently replies. “It’s a wonderful journey. It’s the ultimate dream and the ultimate freedom. It’s the world, but you’re travelling within your own world.”
“We love being together,” Clodagh affirms. “The kids are just so much fun to watch. They keep jumping off the boat from the balconies - it’s great! They’re being very well-behaved now, but when all the photographers aren’t here, they’re jumping in and of the pool. It’s so sweet. We never go inside! The kids are also so excited. I was telling someone that our last boat was 92’, and our oldest son was 4 when we sold that and started working on Seasense. Our youngest was 2 at the time. So when they stepped on the boat for the first time the other day, they looked at me and said, ‘Is this boat bigger than our last one?’ Obviously, they’re a lot bigger now, and they were so tiny when we were on the 92 footer, so it all seems just as huge!”
The Cohens are the ultimate affirmation of the quality of life that can be achieved on board a superyacht. But it’s not all about hundreds of millions of euros worth of big, big yachts - as Clodagh concludes: “What we love about yachting is that everyone is on the water. Of course, a superyacht has a certain price tag, but it doesn’t matter what price bracket you have - there are big boats, small boats, of all shapes and sizes. People love the water. You see old guys, getting onto their little fishing boats and they don’t even look like they should be able to work, but there they are, out on the water. There is something lovely about boating, and something even lovelier about boating people.”
This article was featured in the latest edition of the SuperYacht Times newspaper. Subscribe now to receive your copy straight to your door and never miss another issue.