NERO - A Gilded Yacht of the Golden Age
No superyacht defines the term modern classic more accurately than Nero, an arrestingly good-looking yacht with thoroughly modern machinery and amenities. Delivering all the glamour of yachting’s golden age yet dripping in contemporary comforts, Nero embodies with elegant discretion what most superyachts today can only strive for – the beauty of quiet luxury.
It was the early 2000s when Nero’s commissioning owner, British entrepreneur Neil Taylor, embarked on the road to yacht ownership. He was seduced by the magnificent yacht designs of the 1930s but averse to the spiralling costs that come with restoring a vintage boat, not to mention the unforeseen challenges associated with a refit. The obvious solution was to build a contemporary homage to the classic gentleman’s yacht – less replica, more inspiration – and the muse Taylor settled on was the famed Corsair IV.
Owned by influential financier J.P. Morgan and built by Bath Iron Works in Maine in 1930, the 106m Corsair IV was the largest yacht ever built in the US at the time of her launch. Though considerably sized at 90m, Nero cannot lay claim to such a title, yet the artisanal skill and dedication that went into her evokes the spirit of an age which is rare to find.
No less than 30 international experts, including those from renowned shipyards Lürssen and Benetti, were called upon to bestow their design knowledge and impart construction insight to ensure Nero would be nothing short of world leading. Taylor founded Corsair Yachts solely for the purpose of building Nero, which was constructed at the Yantai Raffles Shipyard on Shandong Peninsula China. The build took 400 craftspeople nearly four years to complete.
Nero’s sleek exterior lines and striking yellow funnel are mated with a salient black hull and superstructure, yet her distinctive design goes much further than skin deep. It channels the mood of a prized yachting era. The styling of the handcrafted teak skylight with integrated sofas on the deck echoes that of Errol Flynn’s 1929 schooner, Zaca. Nero also draws inspiration from the 1912 steamship RMS Niagara, a transpacific ocean liner whose Edwardian staircase prompted the grand swirl of precision marquetry that now unites Nero’s interior decks. And, of course, Nero mirrors the traditional piratical aesthetic of Corsair IV, whose long, dark, heavy hull gave the yacht a paler, suaver superstructure than the Morgan yachts that had come before.
From the day she splashed, Nero has epitomised refined decadence, a fact reaffirmed two years after her delivery when she took Best Motor Yacht over 246-foot at the 2009 ShowBoats International Design Awards. Accompanying Nero is an effortlessly cool and distinctive 9.5m Corsair custom-built tender, which transfers guests in impeccable style. Regular paint and varnish jobs and updated upholstery and interior lights ensure her classic beauty is retained as well as the mothership’s.
To travel in style, rather than speed, is the mantra that Nero lives by while cruising the French and Italian Riviera, though a respectable top speed of 17 knots ensures the yacht is capable of both pace and grace. She has been scrupulously maintained since delivery, though the yacht’s interior design and amenities have progressed in the 15 years since she splashed.
A prominent refit was undertaken at San Giorgio del Porto in 2021, designed by Laura Pomponi and her team at Luxury Projects. The updated look featured new trend tones and used textures that remained sympathetic to the boat’s traditional design cues. Nero now enjoys a colour scheme comprising turquoise hues with blue and red accents that retain her Corsair spirit. Handmade carpets run throughout, including the owner's duplex suite with separate lounge, study and his and hers bathrooms. In the sky lounge bar, a hardwood floor made from maple and oak delivers understated charm. Even the crew now have a retro, nautical-inspired black and white striped uniform.
On the sun deck, a new gym fitted with top-of-the-range Technogym equipment, including a Kinesis, treadmill, cross trainer and cardio bike, takes centre stage. There is also a complete collection of loose weights and the space to practice yoga and Pilates; among Nero’s 20-strong crew is a qualified physical trainer.
The original indoor gym on the boat deck has metamorphosed into a beauty salon with a convertible Total Body Treatment Nilo chair, enabling the onboard beautician to offer manicures, pedicures, hair treatments and massages. Spa treatments are also accommodated in the seventh cabin where Pomponi’s team incorporated a sofa bed to make the space wholly flexible. But it’s the genuinely theatrical experience in the observation lounge cinema that pays tribute to the gilded big studio pictures of the 1930s, when a cinematic love affair with Hollywood’s silver screen had taken the world by storm.
For Taylor, the opportunity to combine his love for classic yachting lines with modern mechanical ability and supreme standards of comfort was tantalisingly irresistible. And it remains so today. Alongside key technical updates to assuage guest convenience and make operations more sustainable, a completely rebuilt galley ensures that 21st century gastronomy is experienced against a heritage backdrop from a coveted bygone era.