Boating in a Portrait | Giorgio Mussini: “The allure and elegance of a wooden boat has no equals”

In the 1950s Giorgio Mussini founded the company bearing his name making boats in wood and fibreglass. He is the founder of Utility Portofino

Giorgio Mussini, in the 1950s, founded the company bearing his name. And he is still a part of the staff today. Founded to offer mooring spaces and services in the bay of Portofino, over the years, it has grown, and now offers services varying from mooring spaces for vessels up to 20 metres long, hire and rental, boat storage and refitting carried out in the Rapallo shipyard. Pride and joy of the business is the vessel manufacturing sector, founded based on intuition had by Giorgio who, in the Seventies, began the construction of the Utility Portofino, a boat made entirely in wood, and which has had extraordinary success.

LN – Giorgio Mussini, your boats are a symbol of elegance. Your shipyard began by building boats entirely in wood to then add parts in fibreglass. Why is wood still so alluring?

GM – If you love the sea, the allure and flavour transmitted by a wooden boat has no rivals: wood is alive, its essence is intoxicating.

LN – From mooring to a shipyard. A good part of the pleasure boating history in the Tigullio Gulf has come through you. What changes have you most seen in seafaring over these years?

GM – Certainly the owners in the last 50 years of business have changed. Once there was more care and attention in the choice of vessel to purchase, the client paid close attention to the aesthetics and solidity of the boat. Today, the priorities are functionality and comfort, to the detriment of elegance.

LN – Your son, Gaetano, has brought new boat models to the company, also adding parts in fibreglass. Between you two, has there ever been a “generational debate” on the idea of boat to be built?

GM – Certainly moving to building in fibreglass caused some animated discussion between us: I am very traditionalist having been born with the concept that boats need to be made in wood, but the more “modern” version brough in by my son has allowed us to expand our business and client base and to keep step with the times, while maintaining our Italian artisan characteristics.

LN – You have half a day free and decide to go out to sea. Which boat would you use and where would you go?

GM – Reason would certainly suggest using the Paraggina Tender Line, our latest, a beautiful vessel, but my heart would choose the Utility Portofino. My clients tell me that when, during navigation they approach large vessels, it is not them staring at the “big ones”, but the opposite, the “big ones” stare at the little ones. I would like to enjoy this experience myself, so I would like to sail along in “my” beloved Tigullio Gulf.

When I decided to begin building my first boat, I remember how sceptical many people were, my wife, Marisa, included. It was the time of the fibreglass boom and I was suggesting building a boat completely in wood, for me this will forever be the biggest gamble I ever won. If I stand back a minute to think about it, I can see every single Utility ever built, and I can assure you they are a lot.

 

Giuseppe Orrù

 

Photo 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.

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