New boats are always a fascinating topic for me because I find it highly interesting to discover new trends or further development of design-features, like discussed in my past articles on inverted bows or hard chines. Italian high-end yard Cantiere del Pardo recently astonished the community with the release of the first renderings of their latest boat: The all new Grand Soleil 44. A sleek, very sexy, very flat and very tempting design and especially the stern section of this yacht is a signature-design of one man: Yacht designer Matteo Polli.

Always a pleasure to talk to Matteo Polli, yacht designer and “Wizard of ORC”

I know Matteo since three years now and approached him shortly after starting this sailing magazine after I fell in love with a plain white boat by Italia Yachts on my fist Hamburg boat show. Visiting him in Italy I received a full tour of the Italia Yachts-yard and we kept on talking about yacht design and some details, like appendage design. Seeing the great renderings of the new Grand Soleil and reading the news that he was the mastermind behind that boat, I approached him to get to know his view on this project. Here we go …

Talking to Matteo Polli on his own yacht-design company

Lars Reisberg | NO FRILLS “Matteo, in short, describe when and why you “left” Italia Yachts to start your own business and which motivations did you have to undertake this step?”

Matteo Polli: “I left Italia Yachts as an employee about two years ago, but I have continued working for the yard as an independent designer to complete the 11.98 and some keel variants. The reason for this was mainly that I wanted to face new challenges. I wanted to work for different clients on different projects – and of course having the freedom of running my own business.” “That is a big step I can imagine – where is your company based? Are you working on your own or do you have any employees?”

Matteo Polli: “My company is based near Monfalcone. That is my home town situated on the North Adriatic. There I work with a team of collaborators which I choose at the beginning of every project according to the specific needs. Having done this step was the right decision as this enabled me to focus more on developing my own skills as a yacht designer and foster my know-how to design faster and better boats.”

Just the right size for cruising couples and serious racing “When did Cantiere del Pardo approach you with the Grand Soleil 44 project? Was it a pitch or have you been their prime choice?”

Matteo Polli: “Well, that was about one year ago. I cannot really disclose the answer to your second question. In general I believe they trusted in me and my capabilities and what I had achieved so far with my previous designs.” “I personally have the feeling that Grand Soleil as a brand has a solid base of devoted clients but – this is my personal opinion – the brand somehow appears to me like being a cue ball between brands like Solaris and others. What was the design brief from the yard to you like? Which aim does the new boat have – I feel like the first aim, raising attention, has been accomplished fully since the first renderings of your design have been published.”

Matteo Polli: “I think each yard has its own soul and they are quite diverse despite the final product may look quite similar in some cases. I think Grand Soleil, differently from other yards, has a very long story of successes on the racing field and I would say their performance cruisers are racing capable. Only recently they added a second range which is oriented purely to the comfort cruises beside a new power boat range. When it comes to the design brief for the new Grad Soleil 44: The boat is meant to extend the performance line following the sales success of the Grand Soleil 58 and 48. I welcome this decision as I think that this smaller size fits better the racing enthusiasts. In fact part of the brief was also about extending the victory list of the brand. We will see …”

A new ORC-rocket? “Let´s talk a bit on the new boat in particular: Your style is unmistakable – the wide, flat and sexy stern section of your designs kind of became a trademark of you. Judging from the first renderings I must say that the new Grand Soleil 44 looks awesome! Please, can you describe the key points of the new boat?”

Matteo Polli: “I am glad you like it, thanks. Well, the hull shape is the result of many CFD-simulations I ran and my experience on the water. But what you can see in these drawings does not easily explain the full picture I would say. One of the key points of the new boat is about the longitudinal balance at the various heeling angles. I also put a great deal of effort in the variation of the ratio between waterline breadth and wetted surface with heel is calibrated in order to offer the right balance between stability and friction resistance. In this, the new Grand Soleil 44 will be also characterized by a very aft positioned mast: This is a choice made to increase the foresail triangle with many advantages both in efficiency and in sail plan management. This feature impacted in some way also on the interiors and deck layout. For example it brings the advantage of moving the saloon a bit to the wider part of the hull and allowing me to design a longer cockpit.”

Run excessively: Matteo Polli´s CFD-analysis on the new GS44-hull “As you are called the “Wizard of ORC” in the boating world how have class rules influenced the boat´s design?”

Matteo Polli: “I would say that the ORC-rule has been perfected a lot in recent years using extensively computational fluid dynamics methods, so almost all idiosyncrasies have been eliminated, leaving less and less space for designers to exploit the rule loopholes. Therefore, to design a successful boat, the key is to improve the efficiency of the whole aero-hydro package working to find the optimal balance. It´s a maximization of real performance instead of pursuing fancy solutions just because of a big benefit on rating. For these reasons I think the Grand Soleil 44 is not extreme in any way. It has a rather complete all-round profile that allows the yacht to sail with good performances in all situations.” “What will the new GS44 be like under sails? Which character can sailors expect from the yacht?”

Matteo Polli: “As described above the boat is designed to fit well all conditions, rather than being very good in one particular situation. I have put particular attention to the performance in light wind conditions because it is the usual situation where most sailing cruisers miss some fun factor in their particular boats. Moreover a lot of racing and cruising happens under these conditions. The boat will be reactive and powered without being over-canvassed in strong winds. The big area single spade rudder is positioned very much forward. This is a solution that allows for having a very efficient steering in any heel condition and to maintain a good grip even in severe weather. The sail plan can be modified to every owner´s desire. It offers the possibility to use symmetrical spinnakers on pole or asymmetrical kites on bowsprit depending on preferred type of sailing. A goo all-rounder, as I said.”

Nice sheerline, flat sexy stern: Polli´s DNA clearly to be recognized in the new Grand Soleil “What is the current timeline of the Grand Soleil 44-project? When will we see a first real boat hitting the waters?”

Matteo Polli: “That´s the sad part as Corona has hit this project like so many others as well. Nevertheless, the yard is working very hard and the first hull should be ready as planned by late July, just in time to get ready for boatshow season. The world premiere should be in Cannes for the Yachting Festival 2020.”

Matteo on his daily routine in Covid-19-times and possible future projects “Matteo, are there any follow-up projects with Cantiere del Pardo in the pipeline? Are you allowed to talk about possible new projects coming up?”

Matteo Polli: “Well, of course, there are some talks but it is way too early to announce something …” “Last question: How did you cope with C19-restrictions? And how has your work changed in the crisis?”

Matteo Polli: “I was very fortunate, I shall say. In the chaos of the lockdown I have managed to not having to stop working. The structure of my business allowed me to keep going at full power but of course I have to face a reduction in orders. All participants of the boating business have slowed down. Then the whole racing has mostly been canceled which of course is not exactly good news. However, I am taking the chance to do some R&D for developing new tools and enlarging my know-how and capabilities. For example, I am working on optimization processes to improve appendages shapes in an automated way with encouraging results.”

Thanks so much, Matteo, for this exclusive insight. I hope that you can go on delivering such stunning designs as the Grand Soleil 44 and for us all that the C19-Craze will end soon. I am looking forward to meeting you in person again – hopefully very soon and hopefully aboard the all-new beautiful Grand Soleil 44 in which I hope to be receiving a tour by you.


Other interesting articles:

The Grand Soleil 46 Long Cruise

Matteo Polli on appendage design iterations

Visiting Solaris yard in Aquilea