I´ve had my first encounter with Italia Yachts back in 2016 during Hamburg boat show (read my article here) back in the time when I was doing my SRC certification. I have this baked into my my mind still so vividly because the SRC class took place right during the show in a meeting room with a perfect view over the booths of the exhibitors. And there was one boat that had me. It was capturing my mind and taking my eyes off of the learning material: A shiny white, tall, slim and neatly designed hull … it was the Italia Yachts 13.98. I fell in love instantly.
During this very boat show I tried to climb aboard every day of the SRC-class and sucked in every detail of this fascinating boat. It had carried the sleek design of an X-Yachts even further, the tempting lines captured my imagination right away. My second encounter took place some half of a year later when I ran towards the Italia Yachts booth during Duesseldorf boat show 2017 (read the article here). It was on that occasion where I first met Franco Corazza, owner and founder of Italia Yachts, and Matteo Polli, principal naval architect of the boats. My love for the boats got refreshed even more in the then new 15.98 which was a delight to look at as well.
Visiting the Italia Yachts Production
Now it´s one Duesseldorf boat show later and because of the stress that comes with such an event I couldn´t make it to the Italia Yachts booth this time but shaking hands hastily with Matteo. I promised to try to acquire more time for a thorough meeting: And this is when the universe kicked in and helped. While staying at San Giorgio di Nogaro at beautiful Laguna Grado with a group of clients for sea trials on Cranchi inboard motoryachts (read my article on Cranchi yachts here) I wrote a short Email to Matteo, stating that I am near Venice. Since Italia Yachts is based in beautiful Chioggia not far away, I planned to come by and visit the yard after work is done. Matteo answered: “What a nice coincidence! See, Chioggia is one of our two locations – the second is in San Giorgio, right where you are. We are Cranchi´s neighbours.” No question, one day later I was knocking at Matteo´s doors …
He welcomed me with a heartful handshake and I truly felt welcome at this venue from the first minute on. Seeing the birthplace of Italia Yachts meeting the very people who make these fantastic boats was on my list for a long time and now the story would unfold. I was excited. “It´s lunch time right now”, Matteo said: “so not too many people around.” But better for us having the chance to crawl into the boats without bothering the workers. We entered the big hall at Marine Planais, where Italia Yachts has one of the two yard facilities. “We are mainly building the 12.98 and the smallest boat, the 9.98 here”, Matteo explained. Furthermore, the design department was situated here in San Giorgio.
There was a 12.98 in the shed and I jumped aboard. The boat was nearly finished with everything installed but ongoing work at the aft section indicated that the boat wasn´t finished. A good chance to look behind some details, which I did instantly. The steering poles are a thing on so many boats: Loads of stress go into these parts since people tend to hold tight to the poles. Because of the long lever, the poles need to be rigid and furthermore, need to be installed very, very rigidly. I sank down to my knees and figured that from below the poles on this Italia Yachts 12.98 hat been fitted with a large counter-plate and huge screws.
Italia Yachts – Boats for serious Sailing
Italia Yachts are boats for serious sailors. That´s the premise of this brand and as Franco Corazza and Matteo Polli last year explained, this is the main thing in every boat. The hulls are build by a subcontractor nearby using a clever layup of directional and unidirectional fibres, even carbon fibres for some boats as well. Longitudinal stringers and transversal reinforcements are laminated directly into the hull during moulding process, the bigger boats also feature a cage for the appendages. Where the loads from the shrouds and the mast enter the hull, stiffeners are laminated so that the boat won´t wobble a millimetre when being sailed.
Matteo is proud of the work done by Italia Yachts, also in collaboration with Cossutti Yacht Design, because these boats bring to life the very essence of what sailing should be like from his point of view: Having the chance to go fast in every point of view by not being forced to sacrifice a comfort and style. Italia Yachts is the impersonation of style in this respect. But more on that later. For now I noticed another nice detail which point to the superior sailing abilities of these boats: A proper mainsheet layout. The mainsheet on an Italia Yachts boat is fitted to the end of the boom and will go to a proper, old school mainsheet. Including a traveller for fine trimming. “That´s how it is supposed to be”, says Matteo. And here some style kicks in: The traveller is counter-sunk into the cockpit floor. Perfect!
Also perfect – but not customary on so many boats even now – is the positioning of the inner shrouds. I´ve been bothered by this fact on so many occasions: When proceeding to the bow, you have to bent yourself through between inner and outer shrouds and I think that´s something unnecessary nowadays. It´s even dangerous because when a crew member has to go forward in rough seas that can pose a potential risk. Not so with Italia Yachts where the inner shrouds are offset to the longitudinal axis to make sure that one can pass through on the gangboard without any problems.
When I took a look at the chain plate-installation of the inner shrouds which are made of a thick steel structure laminated to the hull and secured by thick screws, I further understood that they are making real sailboats here. “As a matter of fact having the inner shrouds shifted more to the centre poses a challenge to the whole construction”, Matteo explained: “But it´s worth it since it improves handling so much.” Italia Yachts are marketed as luxury cruisier and – honestly – their price if way above average. But that´s not solely because of the boat´s lush interiors, it´s because of the costly construction and very stiff built. Stiff – but light.
The Italia Yachts 12.98 comes in with a displacement of 7.950 kg with a deep keel of 2.20 metres draft. Compared to the Dehler 42, which is also a boat I like quite much, that´s 9.200 kg with a keel of 2.16 metres. And the Dehler is even 2 feet shorter. The data speak for themselves. One indication for this lightness is the fore cabin seen on the 12.98 where I can take a rare look onto the lightweight built of the cabin´s interiors: A stiff but lightweight wooden construction is the base for saving weight here.
But there´s more to the boat. They do no just try to be best when it comes to hull design and sailing characteristics, it´s also some of the details I would consider being superior to many other brands and products on the market out now. Let´s take the fittings for all the panels, shelves and cupboards. Mostly, that´s the same cheap supplier of plastic stuff, if best, it´s a mix between cheap plastic and metal. On the Italia Yachts I find solely full metal-made fittings. Made to last.
It´s the small things in the inside which bring a smile to the owner´s eyes for sure and will make sure that they will enjoy their boats for a long time. I found the leatherworks in the small Italia Yachts 9.98 (more on that boat later) are exemplary for this fact: It´s just a simple leather-made headrest, but it´s a very thick and solid piece of material, firmly stitched to the cushion with a solid and durable thread – and a fine embossment of the Italia Yachts Logo. It´s the sum of those small things.
Back outside we visit an area next to the boat sheds where the interior sections are made. It´s a simple but ingenious construction: Screwed to the wooden flooring, the workers have built a wooden caliber mocking the complete internal lines of the Italia Yachts 12.98 – now, all bulkheads, longitudinal bulkheads, engine framing, doors and all the stuff is mounted here on this calibre. The workers install all necessary parts, wiring and alike right here on the outside where it is possible to enter the installation from either side and work freely before the whole section is then put into the hull by means of a crane. I´ve never witnessed the actual building of internal sections – something new can be learned here as well today, nice!
A boat by Italia Yachts of course is one step ahead of most other production yachts both in terms of building quality, choice of materials, interior design and sailing characteristics. This is what Franco Corazza was showing me last year (read the article here) when I was aboard the new 15.98 – now and here I could see that the care and attention with which the boat is built by the staff lives up to Franco´s promises. But then there was another boat that was catching my interest …
Meet the Italia Yachts 9.98: A Big Small Star
Right next to the 12.98 in the shed was smaller yacht as well nearly finished and receiving the last bits of finishing efforts before being delivered to their lucky new owners. It was the 9.98. That´s the smallest of them all, but nevertheless one of the most interesting, because this is the boat that is winning a lot of races all over the world. The racing version is called “Fuoriserie”, which means “special version” and refers to a race-optimized boat.
The very yacht I was able to set my feet on to was the cruising version called “Club” although Matteo assured that even this yacht might be able to leave some other boats well behind in her wake. “She is fitted with a twin wheel steering”, Matteo points out. The racing version of course features the more direct tiller steering. There´s also the possibility to remove the rear section of the cockpit benches which in cruising mode serve as lockers – when racing, the crew will thus receive more space to perform manoeuvres.
I instantly love the aggressive look of the boat, her catlike thin windows in the roofing superstructure. There won´t be a Genoa, Matteo explains: “On our boats, and this applies also for the cruising yachts, we do have set back the mast a bit further but also carry a large main sail as well – this makes room for a comparatively large jib. As a matter of fact the jib isn´t overlapping so that any manoeuvre on the boats can be performed very fast and efficiently by a minimum of people.” On the 9.98 I spot the 3D-trim-system instead of a classic jib track for adjusting the sheet lead. But wait for her interiors …
What a W-O-W this is! For a boat not longer than 10.30 metres overall she bears so much space under her deck. When I was coming down the entryway I was grasping: What a difference to my own 33 feet yacht this is indeed!
Italian Racer – Italian Style
The first impression was that of a space ship. I thought that the choice of both colours and materials was exemplary. Mostly, smaller boats won´t get too much attention by their builders than the bigger, more prestigious yachts of their lines. But that´s definitely different with the Italia Yachts 9.98 indeed. Of course, there´s less wooden stuff and bling, but you do not have the impression that you are a “beginner” or “rookie” for the yard. Everything makes a very solid and thoughtful impression and I sit down to have a look at her interiors in a more decent manner.
The while saloon as well as the fore cabin is in light white colours with black and brown eyecatchers. I loved the shiny black sliding covers for the shelves which resemble an artificial horizon and thus provide for a kind of “foothold” for the eyes. The light-grey fabric for the upholstery with the noble leather-made headrests and the imprinted Italia Yachts logo set a nice counterbalance to the prevailing white of the cabin. The massive wooden framing of the large forward bulkhead separating the fore “cabin” from the saloon is also a nice detail.
“She is absolutely sufficient for cruising”, says Matteo who sits down at the navigation station behind a full fledged chart table. “There´s a fully equipped L-galley with everything you need for two or maybe four people and believe me, she is absolutely fantastic underway when sailed.” I believe his words: The Italia Yachts 9.98 carries a sails area of some 70 square metres, compared to the 65 of the new Dehler 34 in her standard version. “She is a very thought through boat, well balanced and well equipped”, says Matteo: “And I am sure that she will go on winning races for the coming time.”
Looking to the aft cabin I grow a bit envy: Compared to the aft cabin of the Beneteau First 30 R of my last sailing trip round Fyn (read it here) this is a real upgrade. I wonder how the race-optimized Fuoriserie-version might look in terms of crew´s comfort.
The Italia Yachts DNA
We step out of the boats and I take my time to crawl around the two sisters on the shed. One can clearly see the differences of between the luxury performance cruiser on the one hand and her fast sailing smaller sister on the other. But there is also a kind of “Italia Yachts DNA” that cannot be denied here for sure: There´s the aggressive, fast looking hull design but also the noble but cautious “upper class” attitude in both of them. Their Italian breed is obvious indeed.
Most interesting, some of the cool features as well are situated below the waterline hidden from the eyes of the beholder most of the time. Matteo puts a great emphasize on the appendages of the boats as we walk over to a stand where a keel of another 12.98 is ready to be mounted. It looks so massive but also fragile and “speedy” at the same time. The fine thin fin and the sleek, flat bomb is a work of art in itself.
The keels are made of a massive stainless steel frame that will connect the keel bolts with the keel itself. The frame reaches deep into the fin down to the bomb itself. It is covered by a massive full-lead keel, which I find really surprising. Lead is a very, very expensive material for sure so most keels are made of the cheaper cast iron these days, if anything the bomb itself will be made of lead. Not so with Italia Yachts – both fin and keel are made of this heavy and expensive stuff.
The reason is an obvious one: You need not to have a deep keel to achieve the same lever than with a lighter cast iron-keel. Or the other way round: You may achieve more stability with the same length and form of the appendage. This is also contributing to the extraordinary sailing characteristics of Italia Yachts for sure.
What´s next, Matteo Polli?
As we finish our tour of the Italia Yachts facility here in San Giorgio di Nogaro we take a look at two 12.98 yachts in their final stages of fitting. A proper anti fouling is applied on the one yacht, the other seems ready to go: “We are producing some 20 yachts annually”, says Matteo and that´s fairly not a bad performance for a brand that is barely 7 years old. The yachts have made quite a stir in the business since 2010 when Italia Yachts has been founded by Franco Corazza and there will be more highlights to come soon.
I follow Matteo up to the administrational part of the building into his office. Some computer screens, lots of papers, notes, scribbles and printouts of renderings are scattered on his desktop. “That´s the new upcoming Italia Yachts 11.98”, says Matteo but smiles: “Sorry, no pictures …” Judging from the glimpse I could catch of the models this is going to be a sleek nice yacht as well.
Over his head at a wall a nice wooden full hull model of the 12.98 is hanging from the ceiling. Still visible are the markings. In a world dominated by CFD-calculations and a fully computerized design process of yachts it´s reassuring that here at Italia Yachts they do serious business and – at least with the 12.98 – real life simulations and tests in a pool. The model is an affirmation that here at this office they know what they do.
So we say Goodbye to Matteo and his crew and we leave the San Giorgio-yard not after taking a walk over the estate where some owned Italia Yachts are on their winter storage ready to be brought back to their element and being sailed by dedicated crews who appreciate the effort that went into designing and building these wonderful boats. Upon waving Good bye I take the chance to re-invite myself here for another comeback in summer, hoping that Matteo will have a boat in the water ready to be tested under sails. Thanks Matteo for taking us through the production.
Also interesting articles on performance cruisers:
Arcona Yachts: Best & fastest from Sweden
Walkthrough of the Dehler 42
At RM Yachts of La Rochelle