What is a yacht? Apart from being the supreme symbol of wealth, it is freedom, sea, sun and beautiful thoughts. It is the most exclusive island that exists and the best way to travel and be in harmony with nature. A yacht is also a home afloat, loved by its owner perhaps even more than a house, because there, in that space defined by bulwarks and bulkheads, hull and superstructures, stern and bow, it is the dream of a lifetime that comes true.
Behind the design of a new watercraft there lies passion, love and dedication, creative processes involving the owner, designer and shipbuilder, engineers as well as an endless series of craftworkers and skills. Every boat that sails our seas (and this summer, “thanks” to Covid-19, we are seeing a lot of them) represents a challenge accepted, a goal achieved.
In this time of emergency we have listened to the major Italian players, shipyards and designers, undisputed leaders in the luxury boating sector and exponents of the excellence of made in Italy around the world. Despite objective difficulties, they have never given up. In fact they have striven to be able to deliver the watercraft ordered for summer 2020 and to present new models. Confident that the recovery lies ahead and it will be rapid. “We immediately worked to provide a prompt response to the situation. We set up an internal task force and shared a safety protocol with all the social partners,” explained Massimo Perotti, Executive Chairman San Lorenzo. “We quickly signed a union agreement to enable our shipyards to reopen and keep working to deliver the yachts by July.”
All of them sought new ways of working and making the most of the technology available. Andrea Giora, Sales Director of Rosetti Superyacht, told us that the original production schedule envisioned delivery of the 38m Explorer to its owner by the end of May next year: “The lockdown did not prevent us from working closely with the owners to define all the personalized details and start installing the furnishings, doing our utmost to keep as close as possible to the agreed delivery date.” The greatest difficulty in this period was not being able to contact clients directly. All the boat shows were canceled (the only one confirmed, at the moment, the Genoa Boat Show, from October 1 to 6), but this did not prevent the shipyards from negotiating new deals.
The lockdown period slowed delivery times (from sketch to construction, a yacht takes no less than 24 months’ work!). But the shipyards got organized and found ways to launch new craft and also present new projects. “As soon as we had the chance to return to work at full capacity, the yard resumed its activities aware that the restart, however hard, would certainly be positive,” confirmed. Giovanni Costantino, president of The Italian Sea Group owners of the Admiral and Tecnomar marques. The Group, together with the historical shipyards Azimut|Benetti, Baglietto, Codecasa, Cantiere del Pardo, Cantiere delle Marche, Ferretti Group, Overmarine, Palumbo Superyacht, Rosetti Superyacht, Rossinavi, Sanlorenzo and Tankoa, to name only a few, are at the forefront of an Italian shipbuilding tradition that never gives up and is continuing to concentrate on research and innovation.
Always find new solutions and new stimuli. These are the fundamental factors in a field of design that, however conservative like yachting, seeks to remain active. “Technologically, we have started working on some solutions that facilitate life in the time of Covid. On the new Magellano 25 we have an air purification system for enclosed spaces, a system called BCool, initially patented for NASA,” confirms Giovanna Vitelli, president of the group Azimut|Benetti.
A concern for ecology and limiting consumption is on the agenda. But a lot is also changing in terms of livability afloat. Owners are asking for watercraft capable of guaranteeing comfort on long voyages without ever touching port, hence offering amplified volumes with internal heights like a house, and then gyms, on-board offices, well-lit interiors, stern beach clubs and terraces retractable to live life aboard in ever-closer contact with the sea. Some shipyards have made a slogan out of the reassuring capacity of yachts to be as welcoming and protective as a home, and at the same time offer a sense of freedom. “These features are already present in our larger yachts, but could also be embodied in smaller craft,” confided Stefano de Vivo, CCO of Ferretti Group. “We focused our latest campaign #YourPrivateIsland on this theme, which explores the scope for creating something new with fewer constraints and greater freedom.
And what will the motor yachts of tomorrow be like? Some experts, like the architect Bernardo Zuccon, doubt that there will be post-Covid watercraft, but he believes that designers have the “responsibility to understand how to improve the quality of shipboard life by finding new solutions for comfort afloat”. Then there are those who hold that the pandemic has changed our habits and that the choices of yacht owners could well change. “I see pleasure craft with their main deck devoted only to daytime use,” confides the architect Luca Dini, “With a simple, clean design and many spaces for spending as much time as possible outside.”
The yacht is truly the object we most desire. Now more than ever.