BUFEO BLANCO: FIVE SHIPOWNERS AND A BOAT
The indefatigable and unforgettable Mediterranean sailboat dreams of traversing the globe
It was conceived as project No.138, now known as the “Bufeo Blanco”, one of the most famous sailboats in the Mediterranean. This rugged cutter, class of 1963, made of mahogany and oak from the historic Sangermani di Lavagna yard and launched under the name of “Luima”, is 15.50 meters long and 3.82 meters wide. In the last decade it has traveled 50,000 miles at sea.
Since its creation, the Bufeo Blanco has had a total of five shipowners, all Italians. The first was Sergio Rossi, owner of Comau Automotive Torino, now part of the FCA group, and who christened the boat Luima after the names of his two children, Luigi and Maria. Subsequently the boat belonged to Turin entrepreneur Luigi Botto Steglia, who changed the name to the Bufeo Blanco, a river dolphin of the Amazon said to bring luck to those who see it. A legend of the sea was also suited to this living myth, which between 1983 and 1992 was under the command of the Milanese designer Ido Minola, who took the sailing boat to Greece. Between 1992 and 2006, ownership passed to the notary Luigi Oneto of Alessandria, who decided to give the boat a complete refit in 1992, replacing the Marconi cutter in order to take part in vintage sailing. So, between 1994 and 2002, this queen of the seas achieved great results, not least for the Prada Imperial Trophy.
In 2006, the boat was discovered in Salina by current owner Giuseppe Marino, who entrusted the Bufeo Blanco to the care of Del Caro’s Viareggio shipyard in 2007, and later to the Neapolitan Palomba yard for major refitting in 2013. Today’s proprietor had already fallen in love with the boat in the 1990s when it was in the hands of family friend Luigi Oneto. He duly made numerous changes. Achille Bontà, among the crew of the Danae (a 1955 Sangermani), expressed his concern to Marino: “Remember, the boat is a complex system that lives in a hostile environment. Everything you put into it is destined to break. The less you put in, the less that will break.”
So for the shipowner, saving the integrity of the Bufeo Blanco has become a real mission. This, in fact, is what allowed him to take part once more in the Argentario regatta in 2008, to win “Le Vele d’epoca” in Naples, to go on a wonderful cruise in the Greek Ionian islands, and to return to Le Grazie for the Imperial Route race (aka Valdettaro Classic Boats).
In 2009, it headed for the Sicilian archipelagos, from the Aeolian to the Aegadian Islands. In 2011, it crossed the Gulf of Lion, participated at the Puig Vela Classica in Barcelona, then at the Copa del Ray Panerai at Mahón, before winning the Viareggio Historic Sailing regatta in October. The following year, the Bufeo Blanco also won the Trofeo Accademia Navale di Livorno, kept heading south, and then back from Dubrovnik to Split, across the Adriatic, to arrive in Trieste where a strong wind allowed her to win the “Barcolana Classic” in October. The indefatigable boat won again in Naples in 2013 and, after a journey of two weeks from Rhodes to Monte Carlo, took part in and won at Monaco Classic Week in the ‘Classic’ category. There it became a member of ‘La Belle Classe’, an exclusive club in the Principality that brings together the most beautiful historic boats in the world. In 2014, she took part in all stages of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge: Antibes, Argentario, Naples, Mahón and Imperia. It is estimated that under the ownership of Marino, the Bufeo Blanco has traveled an average of about 5,000 nautical miles each year.
In 2016, with the help of a young and promising Neapolitan sailor, Daniele Niglio, the Bufeo Blanco won the AIVA (Italian Historic Sailing) regatta race from La Spezia to Capraia Island, took part in the Historic Sailing race in Gaeta, and claimed third place at the Naples Historic Sailing. After 50 years of history, this vigorous sailing ship is still at sea, ready for new adventures. The current owner dreams of one in particular: to cross the Columns of Hercules and tour the world.
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