NCA Refit on expansion, crew care and the future of the shipyard

Written by Francesca Webster

Though relatively new to the refit business, completing their very first refit of the 86-metre Lürssen superyacht Quattro Elle in June 2015, NCA Refit have quickly built-up a solid reputation as a top refit yard for over 60-metre superyachts. Francesca Webster catches up with NCA Refit’s General Director, Giulio Pennacchio, to talk about how the refit business has developed since its foundation, and what goals the shipyard has within its sights. While the refit element of NCA is a somewhat youthful business, the history of the shipyard goes back to 1942 when two local families formed Cantieri Apuani, specialising in the construction of predominantly commercial vessels for the haul of marble from nearby Carrara. In the 1970’s the shipyard became Nuovi Cantieri Apuania, from which time it constructed all types of commercial cargo vessels, up-to 200-metres. 

NCA Refit new dry dock Following the financial crisis of 2009 however, it became clear that the construction of commercial vessels was moving toward Asia. Fortunately, in 2012 the shipyard was purchased by its current owner, Founder & CEO, Giovanni Costantino, who envisaged the transformation of the site into a luxury specific shipbuilding yard. Following the conclusion of some final commercial projects in 2013, the transition into the luxury industry began. When asked if it was difficult to transform the internal mentality from commercial to luxury, Giulio commented that it was actually a very smooth transition; “our shipyard was already born as a luxury one. Here we had the commercial capacity, the design, the attitude to the details that a yacht needs. Though the engineering was not exactly the same, we merged the big power, big traction and big energy from the commercial shipyard that was NCA at the time, with the brain, and the art of the yachting industry.”NCA Refit new dry dock The concept of this ‘merging’ of the two industries really stands out for Giulio as the best way to describe how NCA Refit began, and it's an important point when understanding how the yard took on an 86-metre as their first project. For Giulio however, it was the success of Quattro Elle that really solidified the move, “it was clear to us that we loved the principle of refit, and that is how it began. In the five years since, we have refitted many yachts and we are now confident in offering the best service for superyachts over 60-metres.” Quatroelle running For Giulio, management, space, technology and infrastructure are the most important things in the game of superyacht refits. At NCA Refit, “we have the logistical infrastructure, the capacity, and capability to accommodate these big yachts, and now we will continue to invest in the infrastructure and the human capital. Our goal is always to learn and understand the market, and of course, for the customer to have full satisfaction at the end of every single refit!”NCA Refit new dry dock In terms of investment, it's not purely to size that NCA Refit are focusing their energy. Unlike many of their competitors, NCA Refit are taking the importance of crew consistency for owner satisfaction into account. With yachts often losing integral crew during long-term refits, the shipyard has established an on-shore village facility to help keep crew on board and active during long refit periods. Giulio notes that this has really had a positive impact, “We have many apartments rented in the local town for crew, and on-site facilities, such as a lounge bar and restaurant, a spa and a fully equipped gym. Plus unlike other shipyards, the town is just outside the gates, so everything is easily accessible and crew can conveniently fly in and out from local airports such as Florence or Pisa.”NCA Refit Crew VillageNCA Refit Crew VillageWhen it comes to singling out the yachts which have really stood out to Giulio, it’s visibly a challenge, particularly when their records include names such as the 78-metre Vosper Thornycroft M5, the 88-metre Perini Navi Maltese Falcon and the 66-metre Delta Marine motor yacht, Invictus. He is palpably excited about the shipyard's specialisation over the years as a sailing yacht specialist, and the reputation that the company has built, almost entirely from word of mouth, makes him very proud. Today NCA Refit are the major yard for refits of Fitzroy and Perini sailing yachts, and with many vessels making the transatlantic passage specifically to visit NCA Refit, it is easy to see that his pride is justified. M5 yacht keel removalPhoto: S/Y M5M5 yacht sailingPhoto: Giuliano SargentiniIt is clear from our conversation that NCA Refit have got big things in their sights, and with the conclusion of their current building development due for October this year, we will definitely be seeing even more large scale refits from this impressive shipyard in the near future. 

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