Lorenzo Pollicardo, the first Italian in the SYBAss operative team: “Super yachts for sustainable boating”
Interview with the engineer, Lorenzo Pollicardo, environmental and technical director for SYBAss, an international association bringing together super yacht manufacturers from around the world. “We are working together to create sustainable boating,” he explains to Liguria Nautica
Lorenzo Pollicardo, a naval engineer who has spent his whole life working in the boating industry, is the first Italian to have become a part of the operative and executive team, for SYBAss, the Super Yacht Builders Association, an international association of super yacht manufacturers. In this partnership, Italy is highly represented, through some of the iconic brands in the industry and of Italian design, like Benetti, Tankoa, Baglietto, Perini Navi and Fincantieri Yachts.
A graduate of the University of Genova in Naval and Mechanical Engineering, married and father to two children, Lorenzo Pollicardo was for 12 years the manager of the Yachting and Naval Certification division for RINA. He has covered key roles in boating trade associations, he has been a consultant for the Port Authority of Genova for the development of the Darsena Nautica and for the City of La Spezia for land development for boating refit initiatives, and as a member of the round table for Nautica del Golfo.
Now, in his role as Technical & Environmental Director for SYBAss, he represents international large-scale shipbuilding and actively participates in the regulation process, working together with important members of the international maritime community, like IMO (International Maritime Organisation), EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency), MCA (Maritime and Coastal Agency UK), CISR (Cayman Islands Shipping Registry), REG (Red Ensign Group), ISO (International Standard organisation) and in partnership with associations like ICOMIA (International Council of Maritime Industry Associations), LYBRA (Large Yacht Brokers Association) and MYBA (European Boating Industry and Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association).
LN – Mr Pollicardo, what does your role entail and what are the objectives for SYBAss?
LP – SYBAss is the association which groups together, at an international level, manufacturers of super yachts, with a very strict rule, making this association quite uniform: members can only be shipbuilders making super yachts and who have been in business for at least 10 years, and in those 10 years, they will have built at least three yachts of over 40 metres, and not in series, meaning custom or semi custom only.
International representation is very high and the latest data on our members showed over 60% of the tonnage of all the shipyards in the world, and we are still acquiring new members. We are getting close to the complete representation of all manufacturers of mega yachts in the world, and recently we have also allowed makers of sailing yachts in to SYBAss. In this case they must have made at least three boats, 30 metres and above, in the last 10 years.
In 2003, SYBAss obtained consultation association status with the IMO, the International Maritime Organization, for the representation of large yacht builders. I am the Technical & Environmental Director and my role, among other things, is to chair SYBAss for the IMO in London.
The work I do is to influence provisions on sustainability and bring it to the same level of prestige for large yachts, in front of organisations like the IMO, the ISO, with the most important and main national organisations, and then with all the classification authorities. We are working hard on developing a provision on safety and the environment. Speaking of large-scale shipbuilding, the three largest countries represented are Italy, the Netherlands and Germany, but we also have members from the United States, the Middle East, Turkey and Australia.
LN – As you noted, Italy is one of the largest manufacturers of super yachts, but you are the first Italian to become a part of the operations team for SYBAss…
LP – Yes, I am the first Italian to have become a part of the operative team. But the role I cover is international. Undoubtedly, the choice of an Italian for this role is a nod to Italian shipbuilding and it is great that this is the case in the technical, technological and research fields.
Rewarding my role was like rewarding the hard work of Italian shipbuilders. First I always represented the industry of my country, now I represent the interests of international industry. By numbers, Italian members are the highest.
I have been working for many years, I believed in pleasure boating since i was a ship inspector for RINA, but I always suffered from the “Cinderella complex” that pleasure boating had. Not so much with RINA but with international organisations. At the time, pleasure boating was seen more as a game, but now that I am sitting at this table, after many years, I am seeing recognition of its importance and large figures.
Now pleasure boating is recognised as an important component, at the same level as other sectors of the international maritime community. This means that now we have to play our role in the challenges regarding the regulation of technology, not only with safety and security, but increasingly, for sustainability. We are called upon to contribute and are doing it very well: at the IMO we are known as the Formula 1 of the seas. Some of our members are already working on using hydrogen.
LN – How is the super yacht market going?
LP – Boating is going fairly well, both for the appreciation of the nautical product, as well as the rediscovery of the joy of going out to sea, most of all thanks to the new generations. What goes for the general principle, also goes for larger boats. There was a stop because of lockdown, so the numbers on the order portfolios are a bit skewed due to the delay in deliveries, making it so a number of mega yachts are still under construction as caused by the delays.
But the orders are there, there is nothing to worry about, people are expectant. Our study, the Economic Report, dedicated to our members, wrote: “Waiting for the fog to lift.” We are doing well, but there is a bit of fog that needs to lift first. There was of course, the health crisis which also caused an economic crisis.
LN – It is said that the pandemic made a lot of people appreciate boating more, or discover it as a way to have a safe holiday…
LP – Exactly. Covid really stirred people up, not only in their desire to be out on the water, but also for the need to have environmentally sustainable products, above all in super yachts. Now performance and comfort on board are replaced by environmental protection. There are fewer planing yachts and more displacement or semi-displacements yachts, and even more explorers. There is a tendency to experience more real yachting, something more alive. This is also due to the younger buyers entering the market. International yacht builders are making sustainability their flagship, because there are people sponsoring that, meaning those who buy the boats.
One of our members has announced the construction of a yacht over 100 metres and which will have hydrogen and methane energy production. The owner allowed the design to be presented, but not their identity. This is because the owner is proud to be able to enjoy this innovative project with its environmental impact. There is a thread connecting new fuels, within the limits of competition, and this what is making this industry innovative and dynamic.
LN – Let’s talk about some events. After last year’s break, the Monaco Yacht Show is back. What should we expect?
LP – SYBAss recognises a select number of events as shows of interest. The first is certainly the Monaco Yacht Show. We thought a lot about whether or not it was opportune to hold the MYS last year, and it was decided to skip it. But the opportunity was taken, in partnership with other international associations, to refresh the event, recognised as one of the most important in the world.
SYBAss plays the role of guarantor, giving suggestions, but does not take on any organisational roles. Monaco is a show that is increasingly leaning more towards B2C rather than B2B: meaning, fewer meetings between businesses and more focus on welcoming clients and those who represent them, so that the investment then turns into a possible sale. The show will focus on an even higher elite hoping to encourage new visitors. In addition, we will be present at Fort Lauderdale and Dubai and have sponsored the Yare in Viareggio since it was founded.
SYBAss has promoted the creation of two foundations, one focused on communication, and one dedicated to innovative design. The Superyacht Life Foundation was created to promote the image of large yachting. Behind every super yacht is a story. The Superyacht Life Foundation’s mission is to share these stories, providing a new view of the people, places and positive designs that surround the beautiful life of super yachts.
The second is called the Water Revolution Foundation and works more within SYBAss, managing projects connected to sustainability, with the aim of helping large-scale boating achieve zero impact status. Its mission is to promote sustainability in the super yacht industry, through partnership and innovation, opening the road to reducing its ecological footprint and safeguarding the precious oceans of our world. The good health of our oceans is not only vital for the future of the super yacht industry, but it is fundamental for the wellbeing of the planet.