Pier Luigi Loro Piana sails Costa Smer­alda

Fol­low­ing the ninth edi­tion of the Loro Piana Superyacht Re­gatta, Pier Luigi Loro Piana re­flects on his love for the sport as well as how it in­spired some of his sig­na­ture sar­to­rial cre­ations.

The Peak (Hong Kong) - - Lifestyle - STORY GLO­RIA FUNG

It’d be a chal­lenge to find some­one who doesn’t like the ocean, the sea breeze, the oc­ca­sional wild fish that jumps out of the wa­ter, and even the pesky seag­ulls that hover above with their pesky shrills. And when said ocean is that of the Smer­alda Coast in the Ital­ian Mediter­ranean, it makes you ques­tion why you’re not spend­ing more time on the sea and less time do­ing what­ever else you’re do­ing with your life.

In the par­tic­u­larly sur­real Ital­ian sea­side port of Porto Cervo, Sar­dinia’s an­swer to Dis­ney­land for superyacht own­ers, the bluish emer­ald hue of the ocean seems to glis­ten just a lit­tle bit richer, more vi­brant. This fan­ta­sy­land, with its jewel-tone wa­ter and lit­tle houses, was built from scratch some dur­ing the 1950s and 1960s by Prince Karim Aga Khan to mimic that cliché small town Italy that you find on re­frig­er­a­tor mag­nets at tacky sou­venir shops.

Porto Cervo, how­ever in­au­then­tic it might be, is is blessed with the un­repli­ca­ble beauty of sea, is­lands, rock for­ma­tions, and the seem­ingly end­less hori­zon. It is here that the Loro Piana Superyacht Re­gatta takes place at the 50-year old Yacht Club Costa Smer­alda, with its ninth edi­tion re­cently com­pleted.

The Mediter­ranean yacht­ing life­style, even for those who know noth­ing of the sport, is one that’s easy to get used to. Be­tween swim­ming with the fishes and dry­ing that gritty, sea salt soaked hair on the deck, there are in­cred­i­ble mo­ments of adren­a­line, fo­cus, and sports­man­ship.

It was pre­cisely the op­por­tu­nity to con­nect with na­ture and the seren­ity that drew Pier Luigi Loro Piana to the sport. An op­por­tu­nity to spend an af­ter­noon or a few days out at sea, for Loro Piana, was some­thing that he’s en­joyed from a young age. It was also some­thing that con­nected the fam­ily to­gether. “I used to sail and cruise with my brother. And when my chil­dren were still young enough and were will­ing to spend time with me on a yacht,” he joked, “it was al­ways a time that I treasured.”

These days, Loro Piana is very much a part of the com­pany’s name­sake re­gatta. With­out his sons this year, how­ever, and de­spite lead­ing a crew of over 20 men and women, his time on My Song still very much of­fers a time for per­sonal re­flec­tion and fam­ily. It was re­vealed that, for the tenth time, nine of which were spon­sored by the brand, his wife trailed be­hind dur­ing each of the race in a cruis­ing yacht, cheer­ing him on.

For a man who’s re­port­edly re­pur­posed old sails from his yachts into ties and suit­cases, he says he doesn’t give much thought to fash­ion when he’s out there ma­nip­u­lat­ing the sails against the wind. Rather, he takes each jour­ney as a chance to empty his mind and com­part­men­talise. “When I’m rac­ing, I for­get all my prob­lems, the only thing on my mind is what I have to do to go faster. It’s in­tense, but it’s a very help­ful way to re­lax,” he shares.

It does seem, though, that the op­po­site is true: the iconic cash­mere leisure wear brand’s CEO is con­stantly think­ing about the sea when he’s at work and com­ing up with new ap­proaches to dress­ing well, and com­fort­able, for the deck.

An af­ter­noon on My Song and it’s easy to un­der­stand why much thought is re­quired for dress­ing the part of a sailor. You won’t get that beau­ti­ful sunkissed glow that usu­ally re­sults from a few leisurely hours on a cruis­ing yacht. In­stead, ex­po­sure to the el­e­ments– the harsh winds, the blazing heat, the more than oc­ca­sional splash of crisp Mediter­ranean wa­ter can make or break a race.

“The boat is like a lab for test­ing out the gar­ments. You’ve got 20 guys on the crew out there for sev­eral days, and we will know if a shirt is com­fort­able or if the linen trousers can pro­tect the legs, and it’s a way for us to test the ma­te­ri­als,” Pier Luigi Loro Piana says.

It’s through years of his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence at races and curs­ing around the world that’s led to the creation of some of the most iconic pieces from the house. “We cre­ated a three-ply twisted yarn, white, long sleeve polo that is light­weight and can pro­tect the body from the sun,” he shares. An­other iconic de­sign is the re­versible Wind­mate jacket that’s both a wind­breaker and a cash­mere jacket; a spe­cial Loro Piana Superyacht Re­gatta edi­tion has been added to the col­lec­tion this year.

The con­tem­po­rary aes­thet­ics of Loro Piana to­day, says, how­ever, stems from more than func­tion­al­ity on board. Pieces are de­signed to let those who blend busi­ness with plea­sure to eas­ily tran­si­tion from boat to busi­ness meet­ings.

As to which part of the world he en­joys mak­ing use of his ver­sa­tile wardrobe; he counts Hong Kong as one of the most unique places he’s ever had the plea­sure of sail­ing in. “We did the Loro Piana Around the Is­land Race in Hong Kong in 2006 and it was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence. We had a great time and re­ally en­joyed the stun­ning view of the har­bour.”

His favourite seas to sail, how­ever, are still those in Italy. “I love St Tropez for sail­ing and the Mediter­ranean for cruis­ing, es­pe­cially in Capri and Amalfi. But for rac­ing, I think Costa Smer­alda here in Porto Cervo is the best.”

“WHEN I’M RAC­ING, I FOR­GET ALL MY PROB­LEMS, THE ONLY THING ON MY MIND IS WHAT I HAVE TO DO TO GO FASTER”

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02 01 Pier Luigi Loro Piana at the helm of My Song. 02 Mysong. in com­pe­ti­tion at the 2017 Su­per Yacht Re­gatta.

03-04 Com­peti­tors round a way­point at Costa Smer­alda. 05 Pier Luigi Loro Piana en­joys his time in the sun. 06 A selec­tion of jack­ets and ac­ces­sories in­spired by Pier Luigi Loro Piana's sail­ing ad­ven­tures.

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