De Antonio Yachts is a relatively young company but it already seems to have established a very clear formula for the way it wants to build leisure boats. Founded in Barcelona in 2012, its compact fleet is all about simple designs characterised by bold angles, pure lines and best use of available space. Of course, given how many leisure boats make similar claims, that could easily sound a bit hackneyed and uninteresting – but when you witness the way those principles are resolved in the finished designs, it all begins to make much better sense. I took a First Look Video of the D23 Cruiser at Southampton Boat Show in September 2015.
The fleet comprises the D23 (available as an Open, a Tender and a Cruiser), the D33 (available as an Open and a Cruiser) and the D43 (available only as an Express Cruiser). That’s six models in all, but every one of them employs the same combination of vertical stem and confrontationally elevated hull sides, allied to layouts defined by the starkly pronounced separation of spaces and modern, angular deck furniture. In tandem with an uncomplicated colour palette (simple white hull, dark grey upholstery and honey-coloured teak decks), there’s a cleanliness on show here that feels peculiarly satisfying.
Function as well as form
However bold and distinct the styling may be, this boat is by no means an unusable monument to form. On the contrary, in most cases, the aesthetic direction of the D23 Cruiser appears to be a faithful by-product of function.
For instance, while the central box at the aft end of the deck appears to suggest the use of a sterndrive set-up, what we actually have here is an outboard engine contained within a moulded structure. The reason for this unusual feature is simply to make better use of the space immediately above the engine – space that would otherwise be unusable. Instead, this additional moulding enables the aft sunpad to extend beyond the bench seat and right out over the swim platform. There is some suggestion that the engine box may also help mitigate noise, vibrations and fumes but until we get her off the show stand and onto the water, we’ll have to take that on trust.
As you move further forward, the ease of movement engendered by the D23’s walkaround layout is also very striking. You can circulate the cockpit furniture in its entirety via the generous teak-lined walkways or you can step up onto the uncluttered foredeck and extend your stroll without obstruction or difficulty. The flat topside lines look great as the cockpit deck climbs the steps to the forepeak – but while the sparse linearity of the foredeck feels very safe and dependable underfoot, the complete absence of guardrails or even grab handles to help steady yourself would make me extremely reluctant to venture up here for seamanship duties in anything other than a dead calm. This perhaps is the one obvious place where the D23’s cleanliness of form really ought to be disrupted with some good, ugly guardrails.
Back down in the safety of the cockpit, however, the precipitous hull sides and steep bulwarks prove much more useful – partly in the degree of depth and security they lend the passengers and partly in the way they enable the use of long, asymmetrical fenders that can be reversed to provide a pair of lateral leaning posts. Rigged with the fender sections inboard, the central dining station is able to seat no fewer than six people, which is an impressive feat on a cabin-equipped 23-foooter.
Better still, when lunch is done, you can simply drop the table down between the forward and aft seats to create a long sunpad that runs unbroken from the swim platform all the way to the helm station. With deck space on every side plus a convertible lounger on the foredeck that makes use of the raked screen as a cushion-lined backrest, the entire boat becomes a sunbathing platform – perfect if you happen to keep your boat in the azure waters of Spain’s northeast coast; a little wasted if your chief cruising ground is Britain.
Up inside the bow space, those steep external mouldings again prove their worth in the form of a cabin that belies its modest footprint with a scale and usability the weekend boater will appreciate. Despite the bulge-free foredeck, seated headroom is very good indeed (particularly in the main aft section); and with a sliding door that encompasses the entire upper surface of the console’s port side, natural light is equally impressive.
The cabin also offers more in the way of features than its compact size and pared-back styling suggest. Lift the aft cushions and, in addition to the slide-out refrigerator beneath the step, you get a portable stove and compact sink to port and a sea toilet to starboard. In fairness, this space is more accurately described as a cuddy than a cruising cabin but given how dynamic those external lines are (and given how much of the boat’s length is dedicated to the needs of alfresco entertainment), the D23 puts on a very decent show indeed.
There seems to be a current fondness among marine designers for a vertical forefoot and very spare, angular Bauhaus aesthetics - but there’s no doubt that the D23 looks and feels very bespoke and ‘boutiquey’ in a way you don’t tend to expect at this price. As things stand, this pleasantly distinctive weekender can be yours for around £60,000 with the standard 140hp outboard. However, given the fact that the Cruiser configuration adds around 350kg to the weight of the Open model, it would be well worth adding sporting acumen to designer appeal by exploring the upper end of the De Antonio’s 200hp rating. For now of course, we can’t yet confirm how she drives with either engine option, but you can expect a full update on this refreshing new boat the moment Bates Wharf treats us to a dedicated on-water test.
For further interesting new boat reviews in this class, see a video reviews of the Bavaria Sport 330 Open from Cannes Yachting Festival 2015, or Beneteau Flyer 8.8 Sundeck.
Specifications: De Antonio D23 Cruiser review
LOA: 7.0 m
Beam: 2.5 m
Weight: 1,450 kg
Fuel capacity: 200 litres
People capacity: eight
Price: from £60,000