Arriving at the Pershing Shipyard in Mondolfo, Italy, the first thing that meets in the eye in the contemporary reception area is a large gas turbine engine mounted on a wooden platform, which is very much an indication of what is behind the doors into the factory. The main Pershing building is a contemporary steel and glass structure, which is exactly what you would expect of what in my view is the world’s leading high-performance luxury yacht manufacturer.

History of Pershing 

In 1981 Italian entrepreneurs Tilli Antonelli, Fausto Filippetti and Guiliano Onori founded the shipyard Cantieri Navale dell’Adriatico. The collaboration with the acclaimed architect Fulvio De Simone began in 1985  and this was the origination of Pershing Yachts, named after the Pershing ballistic missile to represent the innovation and high performance, which has been an instrinsic to the DNA of the Pershing brand ever since.

Images of Pershing 82, 92 and 108.

Pershing was acquired by Ferretti Group in 1988 and the brand rapidly expanded with the collaboration of Tilli Antonelli, Fulvio De Simone and Norberto Ferretti, significantly increasing production capacity, model line-up and distribution. The first model produced by Pershing in 1985 was the 45 and today Pershing produces yachts from 50ft all the way up to the latest flagship which is 140ft. With the investment by Weichai Industrial Group, Pershing has continued to lead in design and innovation and continues to break new ground. 


Pershing has always been an innovator in the yacht industry and has been one of the most successful brands that consistently uses surface-drive propulsion systems, which are used on a number of high-performance boats. The term surface-drive comes from the surface piercing propellers, because the propellors break the water’s surface the engines are able to run under less load than with conventional shaft drive systems so they are considerably more efficient. Pershing uses the drives on all the yachts up tp the 108..

The design of the drives, which can adjust the drives and propellors vertically as well as horizontally, also allows the ‘pilot’ – a more suitable term than captain – to maximise positioning for the optimal propulsion. The drives are also used to turn the boat which enables the Pershings to carve incredibly tight turns and add to maneuverability at speed. At slow speeds and without a conventional rudder, the Pershing surface drive yachts can be slightly more challenging to master, particularly at low speeds and the props also extend well aft of the hull. You can always tell a surface drive when a Pershing us underway by the magnificent rooster tail of water sprayed up behind the boat.

As with most modern-day composite yachts, Pershing uses a vacuum infusion lamination system to create a more durable hull and super-structure with a honeycomb system that increases strength and reduced weight. Production under this method is also more eco-friendly.


The Italian design focuses on blended indoor and outdoor living areas, which can be incredibly challenging to incorporate on a sport yacht without a full flybridge. Di Simone has done this masterfully, with the use of extensive curved glass that provide a significant amount of natural light into the main salon and staterooms. A Pershing signature element is the electrically operated glass door and window systems that fully retract, opening the salon into the aft cockpit area, which makes for a large entertainment space. Many of the Pershing models also incorporate a cleverly designed upper sundeck and helm, barely discernible from the profile and accessible by a retractable carbon fiber ladder that completely disappear into the roof. Also include are custom made gangways that retract out of site when they are not in use.

Pershing custom designs the interiors for owners, but a notable feature is the Poltrona Frau leather upholstery that is used in the helm chairs, that are more akin to an aircraft or rocket than a yacht.


Todays Pershing line up comprises of yachts from 50ft all the way up to the latest 140ft flagship. The new Pershing 140 has four MTU 16 V 2000 M96L 2600 HP engines and is powered by jet drives, which enables it to reach a staggering 42kts.

My personal favorite Pershing is the 82 in terms of size and functionality, and more specifically the semi-custom 82 VHP which was capable of over 50kts that we developed specifically for an American client.

Erstwhile author looking windswept on a Pershing in Cannes.

Whenever Enzo Ferrari was asked about his favorite model, he would often say “the next one”. When I was President / CEO of the Americas for Ferretti Group I was often asked which was my favorite brand, I would always demure that choosing one is a bit like selecting a favorite child and they are all so unique. However, on reflection I always had an affinity for Pershing, the combination of power, performance and style is in my view unparalleled in the yacht space.

Pershing 82 VHP

*Photos Pershing Yacht & Author 

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