- 29 July 2020
Giovanna Vitelli (Azimut Benetti) to LN: “Building three giga yachts in parallel has been extraordinary, and has made us stronger”
Liguria Nautica interviewed Giovanna Vitelli, vice president of Azimut Benetti Group, who tells us how her giga yachts are revolutionising the world of pleasure boating and of shipbuilding.
From Turin, married with two children and a career which began as a lawyer in one of the main Italian law firms, until she then became the “lady of giga yachts”. Giovanna Vitelli is the vice president of Azimut Benetti Group, the biggest yacht manufacturing network and top private group in the world for pleasure boating.
In particular in the manufacture of giga yachts, luxury vessels over 100 metres long, who put the owner and their guests at the heart of everything. Three have just been delivered, built in parallel, and another two are under way, one whose interior has been completely designed by an artist, the other for a smart owner, looking for a floating oasis, with luxury design and direct contact with the sea.
Since 2000, Giovanna Vitelli has been a member of the Board of Directors for Azimut Benetti SpA, the largest group in the world in luxury boating and world leader in the manufacture of mega yachts over 24 metres long, founded by her father, Paolo Vitelli in 1969. With 5 facilities in Italy and one in Brazil with over 2 thousand direct employees, Azimut Benetti exports 98% of its production to 70 countries around the world.
An extremely international vocation, that has allowed them to close contracts even during the lockdown period, in areas where the virus had not yet arrived.
Mrs Vitelli, Azimut Benetti is one of the emblems of excellence for Italian manufacturing in the world. Now that the worst seems to be over, what market do you think we will have?
Our international culture, which translates into a capillary presence in the boating markets of the entire world, has confirmed itself to be a strategic asset. In the last few months, both Azimut and Benetti were able to take advantage of interesting sales opportunities in the geographical areas where the virus had not yet arrived impacting the economy and health of the population.
In the aftermath of a period that we hope will be forever relegated to the past, we have found even more interest in yachting: today, with an increased desire for freedom as well as the need to respect the obligation of social distancing, boats represent the ideal solution for a safe holiday in freedom.
You have become a symbol for gigantism in yachting, with a number of units measuring over 100 metres launched in just a few months. How is Benetti’s “giga season” going?
Benetti is the only shipyard in the Mediterranean, and more in general in Southern Europe capable of offering the market this type of vessels over 100 metres long, and we are very proud of this. Building three giga yachts in parallel has been an extraordinary experience which has confirmed the construction skills of the brand and have allowed us to consolidate our experience in planning and technological innovation. These three giga yachts are very different from each other in terms of displacement, crew and characteristics. Benetti has undoubtedly taken a giant leap forward in quality and organisation by working in this segment.
You are ready to début with the Azimut Magellano 25 metres and the Benetti Oasis 40 metres. Has the lockdown caused delays in the manufacturing process? What point are you at in the construction of these models?
These two models are particularly close to my heart because each one of them is unique in its brand. Magellano 25 metres is absolutely the first yacht in the history of shipbuilding to have its interior completely designed by an artist. Although it is not unusual that a yacht display pieces of art, there is no precedent where a shipyard has given an artist the entire design of the interior: from the division of the space, to the choice of materials through to the creation of some pieces, for example the lights and tables. I am very happy with our partnership with Vincenzo De Cotiis, one of the most renowned experts at an international level for collection design, who brought to this yacht his unmistakeable imprint, transforming fibreglass into a noble and precious material.
Regarding the Oasis 40M, true to its name, we are presenting the market with a proper floating oasis, a yacht with a new concept designed by the most prestigious naval design studio in the world, RWD, specialised in mega and super yachts.
It has been created for a young and smart owner who wants to adopt a lifestyle of informal elegance. Oasis 40M has a spectacular beach area with an infinity pool a few steps from the sea, which can also open to the side, dedicated to leisure in contact with the sea, with no obstructions like tenders and cranes. The great height of the interior space, the unusual placement of the rooms designed and furnished by the New York studio, Bonetti-Kozerski, the ample use of natural light confirms and emphasises its symbioses with the outside.
Both the Magellano 25 Metres and the Oasis 40M will be presented to the public by the summer: indeed, we were almost finished both of them before the lockdown and we have nearly completely recovered from having stopped all those weeks.
Has the pandemic somehow influenced the design of mega and giga yachts? I’m thinking, for example, about cabins to be used for preventative isolation or quarantine on board. Has an owner asked for any solutions of this kind?
The Magellano 25 which is about to be presented will offer for the first time an on-board air purification system for enclosed spaces. For the rest, especially on large-scale vessels, the space is well divided, not only for the owner and guest spaces from the crew, but also in the design concept of the cabins, which are often equipped with spaces for writing or working completely independently and comfortably.
You have recently launched the Azimut Yachts Virtual Lounge, a sort of “virtual boat show”. How do you see the future of the next few large boat shows?
The experience of the Virtual Lounge which we launched on 8 May, was certainly interesting, both in terms of traffic (we counted over 15 thousand visitors in less than 5 weeks), both as a communication tool, which allowed us to keep active relationships with our clients around the world when we had to cancel a number of in-person appointments.
Personally I hope that we will have a progressive return to normality and we are working towards the autumn boat shows while we are still aware that the next season’s events may not be the same as we are used to.