INTERVIEW WITH CAPTAIN
Where do you come from captain? I’m one hundred percent Italian. Born in Milan then at twelve I moved to Crotone with my family in Calabria and I’ve been living Near Viareggio for the past ten years. When did you get acquainted with the sea? My parents would take me near Crotone as a young boy of six during my summer holidays, and from then on we are one. So as my parents often tell me I started with a German’s windsurf with whom I made friends with at the campig site when I couldn’t have been older than six. Your training? I’m one of the youngest captains not to have gone through nautical college. My professional career has always been in recreational yachting. With the latest (2005) norms which reshuffled professional titles and they became a reality in yachting which allowed me not to go through merchant navy and from there to yachts as many as my peers had to do to make of this work in yachting a career. Obviously in the course of several years I upgraded with supplementary courses as required. Which are your earliest recollections of the sea and boats? Amongst the hundreds of advantages there are in living in the Calabria region is the climate, I distinctly remember that moving through autumn to spring was merely something symbolic in connection with the calendar and with no great change at all in the weather pattern. I’ve always ‘lived’ the sea full time with only brief intervals ashore. My world is predominantly made up of a lovely blue: starting with windsurfs, sailing boats, underwater spear fishing. The subsequent shift to motor yachts was for me a natural evolution of my profession. How was the impact with the world of work proper? Well I was fourteen when I began my first season as windsurf sailing instructor in a tourist village. My retribution was food and lodging. Soon after I moved to crewing as a pro for a limited period, then as skipper on sailing boats and now here I am. Fortunately I’ve never experienced what it is like to be out of work. Your initial experiences at sea? With a sailing boat by myself at 16, I sailed from Crotone for Tunisia in North Africa, just for the hell of it. Maybe it was a rash decision and nothing more than just sun and sea. Preceding experiences in command? I’ve been in command of ‘something’ since I was eighteen. Initially it was sailing boats which got bigger and bigger, then motor yachts Sunseeker, Azimut, and currently Benetti. What are the main features of the motor yacht you’re currently in command of? She’s a Benetti Tradition 105 model named Miamaa. We’ve now been together since 2012. I was there from the project design work and supervised construction, sailed and tested throughout the warrantee period and now I cruise with a thoroughly tested fine tuned perfect motor yacht, thanks also to a very discerning owner who’s very fond of his floating jewel. This is Benetti’s twenty fifth yacht and features several characteristics the owner and his family really cared for. They love the sea and being on the water during the summer as if it were their summer residency. Naturally they’ve sailed extensively for more than twenty years. The owner has exploited his considerable boating experience to make sure Miamaa is both welcoming and with good sea keeping qualities. Every summer season made up of 4 months we cruise around for 5,000 nautical miles. Favourite marina? I’m glad to say I’ve got one in every Mediterranean Country: We visit diverse ports of call in different countries every season. In Italy I adore Loano, Leghorn, Vibo Valentia...but I could carry on for a while. The concept that needs to be weighed
up here is another: to me what is important is what services are available, is the staff prepared professionally, the structure, and the assistance, all of these things a marina can give make the difference. Fortunately in some ways the concept of safety linked to weather forecasts in the Mediterranean is not such a determining factor as in other areas in the world as rarely are the conditions so severe, risky and prohibitive. Preferred route? The Italian ones for their colours, people and food. While of Croatia I prefer the beauty of the islands, climate and people. With no shadow of doubt these are my favourites. Which innovations have struck you most in the world of yachting and why? I was born in the age of computers, GPS and electronic navigational aids; by comparison with my more experienced colleagues, I feel I have an advantage in the more natural approach I have with electronic gear that fills the helm controls station. Safety has always been a major theme for me and one of my top priorities and technology has literally leaped forward at least from this specific view point. I’d very much like to be continuously surprised in this field, and I enjoy testing and using new gear. The worst thing that has happened to you as captain? In Decenber 1999 between the 4th and 5th I was transferring a sailing yacht from Barcelona Spain to Rome with two friends of mine: We got caught out in 109 knots of wind in the Gulf of Leon (about 200 km/hr). That was something I wish to no one. They were the most intense twelve hours of my life to date. Lady luck was on our side and the conclusions I drew up later helped me to mature and grow. What do you think of your role as Captain and of the yachting world you work in? I and several other colleagues are members of the Italian Yacht Masters Society. It is made of captains officers from the yachting world brought together by our same professional canons and body of rules which also comprise training and honesty. We share the same passion for what we do, and we’re proud to be constantly updated professionally. This is gratifying and helps the Italian Yachting world. My older colleagues are about 65 and are about to retire, they’re among the first to do so from the yachting branch. This means that In Italy there has never yet been a generational change yet for professional Yachting captains and officers. In a nutshell we’re still the pioneers of a profession introduced in the course of the 50’s. The way we behave, how and what we do and say will be useful to the ones that will come after us for a better yachting world. I’m not just talking about captains, but about everyone involved in this field, in the broader sense too such as marinas, dedicated magazines and shipyards.