Boating in a Portrait | Enrico Franchetti: “I unite my passion of building carbon fibre masts with sailing”
Enrico Franchetti is a Genoese sailor and founder of Maxspar, a company making large scale masts in carbon fibre using modern construction techniques
Enrico Franchetti was born in Genoa in 1954. He began sailing when he was 11 years old, in the Genoa branch of Lega Navale Italiana.
He competed in a number of categories, mainly Flying junior, 470, Laser, J24, Ior class and on vessels of all sizes, participating in local, national, European, and international regattas as well as international weeklies, collecting great experience and a number of results. In 1980 he worked as technical sales director at Sorimast, where he began building aluminium masts for all of the biggest Italian shipyards, also manufacturing a limited series for European shipyards. He worked in this company until 1993.
In 1994 he founded a new company, Maxspar, in the port of Genoa, where Franchetti continued his work and improved the construction of aluminium masts. Over the years he gradually expanded the facility, improving the product and taking advantage of Maxspar’s excellent logistical position to create even bigger masts.
After two years of studying and research, he decided to begin building carbon fibre masts, taking the more difficult road but the one leading to better results: he decided to use prepreg carbon fibre manufactured as a single piece in section and length, laminated on a male mould, creating incomparable lightness and resistance. After a few years manufacturing small and medium sized masts using this technique, Maxspar began manufacturing larger masts, also using a single piece and a male mould.
Today Maxspar has a facility that builds carbon fibre masts with a conditioned cleaning room and an autoclave, developed for a length of 70 metres. With his facility he autonomously builds all the individual pieces and parts of the mast, rigging, and accessories, resolving any technical issues. Making a low estimate, Enrico Franchetti, over 26 years, has built over 4,000 masts for sail boats.
Enrico Franchetti, how did you discover sailing as a child? Why did you decide to take up this sport?
I began sailing when I was 11 years old, taking a sailing course, in the Genoa branch of Lega Navale Italiana. It was a simple and normal beginning, but it became a passion over the years.
From sailor to builder of one of the hardest parts of a sail boat, the mast, how did you decide to take this leap?
Sailing and building are two completely different worlds. Luckily, thanks to my studies and my mentality, I am a technician and was able to unite the passion I put into my work with that of sailing, improving efficiency and simplifying the construction of my masts. All of this is extremely satisfying personally and has become my life’s work.
You now manufacture single piece carbon fibre masts. Why did you choose this technique, which is quite complicated?
Because nobody was doing it. A single piece mast in section and length is a monolith which is stiffer and lighter. And these are the essential qualities to get the best performance. The satisfaction I get from building anything and reaching a goal, like the creation of an inventive design, are the reasons that stimulate my business. The more difficult it is, the more I am stimulated to express my creativity.
Which mast have you built that you are most tied to and why?
Obviously the biggest masts.
Do you remember a vessel which you worked on that was particularly satisfying?
There were many…and all of them have different stories. Certainly studying and creating carbon fibre rigging gratified me in developing a new technology which is so complex and avant garde.
What is your relationship like with the sea now?
I want to see the sea every day and I want to sail across it in every single way discovered by man. The beautiful thing about my job is that I can test vessels of all different sizes, which give me different feelings of excitement. Every mast I have built has a piece of me in it.
Photos by Claudio Colombo
BOATING IN A PORTRAIT A project by Liguria Nautica and Claudio Colombo showcasing a gallery of Ligurian people or those who have ties with our region, who have left their mark on Italian boating, or who have deep rooted connections with our sea. For each of them, we present a photographic portrait take by Claudio Colombo and an interview with our journalist, Giuseppe Orrù, to better know each person, in their personal lives as well.