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Insight: Big boat building at Fincantieri Yachts

Fincantieri Yachts remains a relatively young member of the Fincantieri Group, with the dedicated superyachts division of the Italian company established just 10 years ago. For those who don’t know, their parent Group is a hugely successful shipbuilding company. Well, that is, perhaps, an understatement. With more than 200 years of history, impressive annual revenues of more than €4,000,000,000, and around 20,000 people in offices, facilities and yards across Europe, Asia and the Americas, the Fincantieri Group is among the world leaders in shipbuilding, operating in the design and construction of merchant and naval vessels, cruise ships and large ferries offshore support vessels and, now, superyachts.

Regardless of the success experienced throughout all levels of the Fincantieri Group over the past five decades, the replication of that success is never guaranteed in new fields. The first two superyachts to be completed under the Fincantieri Yachts name, however, were impressive to say the least.

Both featuring designs from the renowned Espen Oeino, Serene was completed in 2011, followed three years later with the arrival of Ocean Victory in 2014. Measuring 134 metres and 140 metres respectively, it’s an extraordinary feat to consider that the very first vessels to be completed at the yard’s expansive facilities in Muggiano are the 13th and 9th largest superyachts in the world to date (source: SuperYacht iQ). Mauro Parodi, Head of Sales at Fincantieri Yachts, agrees: “As a business we are very young: it is only 10 years that Fincantieri decided to establish Fincantieri Yachts as a business unit. In this 10 years, to have already delivered two boats amongst the 15 biggest boats in the world, it is already a big success.”

Interestingly, not only are these the first two superyachts to be built by Fincantieri Yachts, but they are the only yachts to have been built by the brand to date. Of course, as a big boat builder, it’s logical that the task of maintaining a constant production line of 100+ metre vessels is going to be a difficult endeavour. Even the smallest that the brand are willing to build of 1800 GT or around 70 metres, is still a very big boat, requiring a substantial investment from any prospective owner and not an opportunity that comes knocking every month for even the most established builders of large superyachts.

Parodi tells us that this is, indeed, an issue at the yard: “We are working to further improve the level of continuity of new orders,” he says. “For example we signed other contracts in the past, but unluckily with the financial crisis of 2008, this lead to bankruptcy of some of our clients which lead to the stopping of construction... We hope we have some good news soon for new projects”

With Ocean Victory completed a year and a half ago now, we asked if this is in any way a point of concern for the brand. Parodi’s answer was calm, but it’s not hard to see why. The Group in which Fincantieri Yachts belongs is so financially stable, with such a large dedicated and experienced workforce, that the element of pressure is managed. Parodi says, “We put pressure on ourselves, so it’s a self-pressure. It’s logical and normal and we keep improving in the fields of innovation and advanced research for our new clients.”

He continues to confirm that being part of the Fincantieri Group gives them a unique edge when it comes to the continuation of the business: “The good thing with Fincantieri as a group is that it is so wide and so huge. As often happens, our resources are at the company’s service in any ship building activity within the company. We always use internal sources, so the company has the brain in-house. Our people can share their experiences and learn and teach new things every day. It’s wonderful.”

Not worrying about the lack of a definite future project does not mean that they are not preparing for the future, or, indeed, trying to attract potential clients. On their website, Fincantieri Yachts currently have six substantial concepts published, including the 140 metre Armonia with exterior and interior design from Andrea Vallicelli and a GT of 8,500, the 145 metre Fortissimo with a GT of 7,000 designed especially for Fincantieri by Ken Freivokh, and the slightly smaller 90 metre 3000 GT Mars, designed by H2 Yacht Design with engineering by Fincantieri Yachts. A number of other exciting concepts have also been designed, including the 85.9 metre 2460 GT Ottantacinque.

“We do publish concepts to try and attract the client,” Parodi explains. “The boats that we have built are more than 8,000 GRT and are very private boats, so it is impossible to show them to the industry. We have full respect of that so we don’t advertise them, but of course we also want the world to know that we have built them so people know what we have done.”

Regardless of having projects and concepts ready, and the financial means to support it, Parodi is firm in the belief that they will not build on spec, instead preferring to fully establish themselves as a custom yacht builder. “At the present time it is the policy of the company that we do not build on speculation, we build only on contract, because the spirit of the company is to cover the fully custom market,” states Parodi.

The yard also includes a substantial refit unit, in which projects such as works on board the 162.5 metre Eclipse have been welcomed. Parodi says, “We have also established a business unit dedicated to refit. That is also quite young, five or six years and we have already worked on Eclipse. We have a very strict cooperation with our friends and colleagues in the refit department. It’s important to talk to each other and help each other.”

So, as for the future of Fincantieri Yachts, Parodi seems quietly confident that the work they wish to do will come to them especially with the process of recovery of the global market. And as for the creation of the ever-mythical superyachts of 180+ metres? We will have to wait and see. Parodi, like the rest of the industry, is well aware of the rumours seemingly constantly circulating of 200+ metres vessels. “We have seen the start of a possible enquiry of a yacht of that size on the market. Rumours have circulated for three years. We hope that an owner will decide to go ahead with us because it will be a very interesting challenge to build!” He concludes, “Who knows. For us there would be no problem in regards to capability or capacity: we can design, we can engineer, we have the yard where we can build any type of vessel in any size.”

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