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Cantiere Rossini: building a luxury refit shipyard

Business
Written by
Justin Ratcliffe

In September 2015, a group of international investors purchased the defunct Cantiere Navale di Pesaro on Italy’s Adriatic coast. They renamed it Cantiere Rossini after Gioacchino Rossini, the famous Italian opera composer born in Pesaro in 1792, and immediately set about reorganising and modernising the shipyard to create a state-of-the-art refit facility for large yachts of up to 55 metres or 560 tonnes lifting weight. Cantiere RossiniPhoto: Justin RatcliffeHeaded up by Captain Stewart Parvin, SuperYacht Times recently spoke with the former merchant seaman/yacht captain turned shipyard CEO to find out more.

Tell us about your seafaring background.

I literally ran away to sea aged 16 to join the merchant navy. I spent 28 years with the prestigious Cunard Line working my way up through the ranks, acquiring my Master Mariner’s certificate along the way, and for seven years I was first officer aboard the ocean liner QE2. My introduction to the superyacht world was as captain of 99-metre Christina O, and since then I’ve worked on a number of large yachts. An important experience for my current role was project managing the initial part of the rebuild of 122-metre Maryah to SOLAS criteria at the Elefsis Shipyard in Greece. Based on both my commercial and yachting experience, in early 2015 I was invited to become CEO of Lisa Group, the holding company set up to acquire the bankrupt Cantiere Navale di Pesaro with the vision of establishing a world-class refit yard. 

Cantiere RossiniPhoto: Justin Ratcliffe
How did you identify Pesaro as the ideal location for Cantiere Rossini?

As a professional captain, I was looking for some specific guarantees. First of all, the port had to be protected in all weather conditions, which is by no means the case with all shipyards. Secondly, the old yard had been bankrupt for several years, which meant we had no legacy or workforce issues to contend with and could restart from ground zero. We also needed plenty of hard standing space and a reliable network of subcontractors located close by. I spent 18 months travelling the length of Italy and the site in Pesaro ticked all the right boxes. The town is an attractive tourist destination and the centre is just 10 minutes away from the yard; we have around 15,000 square metres of hard standing space; the 100-metre quay and seven 55-metre berths are well protected, and there are plenty of specialist contractors serving the boatbuilding industry in nearby Fano and Ancona. Last but not least, when I first came to Pesaro four years ago the port was in a sorry state; I have no doubt that Cantiere Rossini will breathe new life into the region and establish the town as a yachting hub.   Cantiere RossiniWhat is your vision for the new facility?

Quite simply, we want to be recognised as one of the best refit yards in the world. To do that, we have to do certain things exceptionally well with a strong focus on customer service. While offering a complete range of services, from minor repairs and routine maintenance to complex engineering works, I especially want to concentrate on the painting operations. Despite being the most costly routine maintenance procedure, I was shocked to discover that it is usually done outdoors under a plastic cocoon that is supposedly climate-controlled. Owners wouldn’t agree to paint their beautiful cars in those conditions, so why should they be expected to repaint their yacht in anything other than a purpose-built facility? That’s why we’re building not one, but two 70-metre painting sheds that are 28 metres high so the radar masts don’t have to be removed. 

When do you expect the modernisation programme to be completed?

We started in October 2017 to demolish the old construction sheds and the slipway, shifting around 30,000 tons of earth and concrete in the process. That first phase was completed in July with the installation of our 560-tonne travel lift and the quay and dockside are now in operation, complete with shore power connections, fresh water and compressed air outlets and built-in piping to collect grey an black water from the yachts. The next phase is to start the new offices and paint sheds, which are due for completion in January 2019. Our unrivalled crew village will comprise conference facilities, large gymnasium, wellness centre, crew pub, pizza oven, barbeque areas, infinity swimming pool and 16 luxury apartments to house visiting crew. The plan is to have all the building work finished by August next year, but despite all the heavy construction, we’ve already had a number of large motor yachts visiting in the summer and staying over during the winter.

Cantiere RossiniPhoto: Justin RatcliffeIn the renders the new facilities look very avant-garde: what kind of investment are you looking at to complete the infrastructure project?

We’ve set aside a total investment of €25 million. We’re especially proud of the design of the new buildings. I wanted to avoid the reinforced concrete boxes typical of most shipyards and told the architects to create something Guggenheim-like, meaning more similar to a contemporary museum than an industrial building. In terms of attention to detail and quality standards, we were very inspired throughout the design process by Porto Montenegro, one of the best superyacht marinas in my opinion. Suffice to say, we’re confident that by the time the building work is finished we’ll have the best refit facility in the world.

Content created in collaboration with Rossini.

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