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September 2004

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news



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Fabio Petrone interviews Aurelio Giorgetti, manager of the Codecasa 3 boatyard


When we speak of those Viareggio boatyards that build large pleasure craft, one of the first names that comes to mind is definitely Codecasa. This is a hard-working boatyard almost hidden away in the sheds at the far eastern end of the port, in a proud recurrence of a naval art that the descendants of the first "mastri" or master craftsmen today valorise using top technological innovations. All this happens very effectively and without great hue and cry, practically in silence in fact, respecting the privacy of a prestigious international clientele. Fulvio Codecasa has broken away from the tradition of a family of self-effacing people, forced into the limelight by their success over these first 180 years of activity. By defining the relationship with the client in human terms he has made this boatyard one of the most famous on the international sailing scene. The history of this lineage started way back in 1825 with Giovanni Battista Codecasa, master carpenter from Viareggio; its long period of development has led to its position today as one of the major boatyards on the Versilia coastline, the first or at least one of the very first to build pleasure craft over 30 metres in length.

Just before the launch of two new boats, a 35-metre open and a 52- metre displacing hull, to get some idea of the boatyard's latest news we met up with Aurelio Giorgetti, manager for Codecasa Tre, in the boatyard's headquarters in the port where we found work underway.

"This building", Giorgetti explains to us, "has become inadequate for the prestige conquered by the boats we build and the kind of clientele we deal with. We could not welcome people like the Cavalier Del Vecchio, Giorgio Armani or Prince Albert of Monaco, who came here in the role of godfather at the launch of "Lady Ann Magee", in these surroundings - we needed somewhere more decorous.

You mentioned Armani and this brings us directly to the topic of your latest launches and happenings. We have heard words of admiration for the stylist's boat "Mariù" - what are its special features?

Just that, that fact that it is Armani's boat. The hull, motorisation and fittings are by Codecasa, while interiors have been purposely designed, planned and created for Armani. There is a copyright, this incredible much so that he didn't even want the photographic service that we traditionally organise for each new boat. There is a contractual agreement that reserves him all the rights.

Who designed these interiors? Armani himself?

He designed them with the help of architects personally chosen from the Studio Ortelli. He gave the input and then the interiors of the boat took shape thanks to collaboration by Ortelli and Dellarole, our architects.

And how did they turn out?

Armani is a fan of minimalism, so he wanted pure minimalist furnishings. He is a strict follower of simple, squared lines and he believes in symmetry. The boat is thus extremely essential, characterised by the fact that the owner wanted all the interiors to have a nautical flavour, a reminder that you are on a boat. So all the floors are in teak planking, the same as an outside deck. As he is not a lover of anything round, everything is strictly with corners. All the furnishings - beds, bedside tables, sofas and furnishing accessories are taken exclusively from the "Armani Casa" line, being "launched" by that company right now. On board we were only responsible for the wood panelling. No pictures, no lamps. Unlike most owners he is not a lover of shine and so we had to give everything a satin finish, from the portholes to the handrail and also the railings both inside and out. Instead of polishing it all we had to do was to carry out a very expensive micro-shotpeening process, to give everything a matt appearance.

And the upperworks?

He chose special colours for both the hull and the upperworks. You will in fact see an anthracite grey colour studied especially for him by Dupont. The upperworks are therefore not white but pale grey. As Armani quite rightly says, when you are on a yacht under the Mediterranean sun, in order not to go blind you need sunglasses: he doesn't want the people on his boat to feel dazzled by the sun. This is one of his beliefs.

What is the layout of the interiors like, how has the boat been organised?

On the lower deck there are 4 guest cabins, all with bathroom, forwards of the guest quarters there are those for the crew. The main deck has a saloon with adjacent dining area, which he uses very little as he doesn't like to lunch aboard. The few times he does he prefers to lunch outside in the open. Coming on board aft you find this immense saloon, then the galley, an entrance hall for guests, a cabin for guests or for on board personnel, for the bodyguard and then in the bows the owner's suite, made up of an office, a huge bedroom and an enormous full beam bathroom. On the upper bridge deck there is an enormous saloon, which is the real saloon of the boat, then there is the Skipper's cabin, the radio room and the wheelhouse. Finally on the sundeck, we have the whole sunbathing area, with a mini Jacuzzi pool. A lift inside the mast opens onto the sundeck and serves all four decks starting from the lower deck and travelling a height of around 12 metres.

Let's talk technical: tell me something about the hull, its construction, bottom and engines.

The 52-metre hull is made completely from high resistance steel, while the upperworks are all in light aluminium alloy. Engines installed are two 2,200 horsepower Caterpillars, giving a maximum speed of about 18 knots and a cruising speed of 16. At cruising speed, the range is about 6,000 miles, so the boat can sail across the oceans with no problems. There are two generator sets, 120 kW each, completed by a 60kW emergency set. When sailing it has a "Vosper" active stabilising system and it is also equipped with all the highest level certification requisites. Given that all our boats over most recent years have been built to "Lloyd Register" class, they are now suited for MCA compliance certification, authorising them to transport paying passengers, in other words for chartering. They have therefore, safety requisites from a point of view of fire stop equipment and stability even with a leak that normal yachts don't have. The difficult part is getting the aesthetic needs of a yacht to reconcile with the safety structures and installation requested by the MCA, which are in fact identical to those for commercial boats where the problem of looks doesn't exist.

What are the characteristics of this bottom?

It is a fully displacing bottom and therefore very strong. It is no coincidence that we started out as a yard constructing commercial boats. These requisites of strength, by now part of our DNA, are also transferred into the production of pleasure craft, which are robust and reliable and manage to achieve considerable speed with just a little power. A fully displacing boat like this manages to do 18 knots with 4,000 horsepower. That's a good result.

Which boats have you launched recently?

Last year we delivered Armani's in May and our flagship, the 62-metre "Apogee" in November. The latter has recently come back in from the Caribbean for a few checks, having completed its first cruise, to then start the summer charter season here in the Mediterranean. It will reach Cannes for the forthcoming Festival of the Cinema. Armani wants his "Mariù" in Cannes for that period as well.

Now let's talk about "Apogee".

"Apogee" came about because an American owner, who already had a 50- metre of ours, decided to upgrade to a larger boat. We studied the design for him, we tank tested the model.The results were truly surprising and we are really proud of them: with the same engine power as the 50-metre we have managed to reach almost 19 knots. And this one is 12 metres longer and 11 metres 20 wide.

So you can achieve 17 knots cruising speed?

With this one we can. We personalised it for him in a way that had him all excited. The Americans, especially when they go to the Caribbean, particularly like an aft veranda. We brought it forwards, we transferred it to the bows and this innovation has aroused a lot of interest especially among owners frequenting the Caribbean. Many went to see it and we have already had people contacting us. However they have been held back by the contingent situation and above all by the unfavourable Dollar/Euro exchange rate.

We've looked at recent launches, now let's present readers with an overview of construction in the yard. It is obvious that this depends on the size of orders, but to start with what is your average annual production?

On average we manage to deliver one 50 or 60-metre boat a year, following a production policy set up about ten years ago, which considered our current entrance onto the charter market. At the time Fulvio Codecasa invented a 50-metre that could meet the requests of a demanding owner, even when used for charters. In this way we started to build "Charlie Coppers". But a client who had had a 36-metre of ours saw the model and the drawings and decided to buy it. And sailed in and out of a lot of harbours. Even though it wasn't chartered out, the boat was seen and appreciated, especially by Americans. The first clients came forward and we started to build to order. But when a client arrives and hears 2 years, 2 and a half years delivery time, that's how long it takes to build a boat of this kind, they are put off. So then Codecasa had a good idea. Given that these boats had met with a certain interest, he started to build the shells, which were then personalised inside and also a bit outside according to the client's requests. This meant shortening by a good year the delivery time needed.

The carpentry division is therefore in continual production?

Yes, so that when a client arrives and asks you for a 50-metre and you already have a hull being built of that size, you can deliver it in one year instead of two, as the buyer would expect. This makes it particularly tempting.

But the product still remains absolutely "custom"?

We can satisfy all the owner's wishes. We have by now optimised the hull to the max, so it needs no further upgrading and clearly we leave the choice of the interiors to the client, any modifications of the cabin layout and everything to do with the internal decorating, as well as any changes to equipment preferred over what we offer.

Let's say that you propose a preliminary layout and then the client can however request it be adapted to his own needs?

This is what happened with Mr. Del Vecchio and again with Armani, who had been his guest on the boat. He really liked it, apart from the furnishings, which were not to his taste, but this we have already mentioned. However he really appreciated the boat's seaworthiness, both when sailing and in port, above all its comfort aspect. He found out that we didn't have a similar hull in production and came forward to ask how long we would have taken to deliver one finished. Codecasa told him: "If you don't ask me to turn the boat upside-down, I can have one ready in a year". And that's what we did. This was the reason Armani chose us - we ensured him a delivery time that nobody else could.

Where does your carpentry production take place?

Our hulls are produced in Pisa, at the Costruzioni Navali del Tirreno, a boatyard that works exclusively for us, to our drawings, under the supervision of our engineers and surveyors. This yard provides us with the hull and the unfinished upperworks, which we tow to Viareggio where we put them into our dry dock and then we complete them, paying particular attention to on-board comfort. We have carried out special studies regarding the latter and we spend a fortune, for example, on soundproofing. We want a high level of well-being for those living on board. What really amazes those who try out our boats for the first time, and Armani was no exception, is the fact that in the owner's suite in the bows there is such silence while sailing that you have the impression that you are sailing under canvas. It's not me that says this, but the owners who sail the boats. In the owner's suite in the bows, when sailing a cruising speed, you don't know if you are on a boat powered by engines or sails. You can hear absolutely nothing.

Are the floors floating too?

It's all completely cushioned, floating floors, floating ceilings, it's all floating.

...with the system of sand in the pipes, so that noise is not transmitted?

Of course, each stay, each pipe is filled with sand. Del Vecchio's owner's cabin was completely insulated with lead, to completely muffle any kind of noise. It was a request made by Del Vecchio when he came to order the boat. He said: "Lads, I only sleep one or two hours a night, but I want to spend that hour or two in absolute peace and quiet. I hate everything that makes a noise and I don't want even the slightest bit of light to filter in through a porthole". So we tested it out with Mr. Del Vecchio at midday with the sun shining down. We darkened the whole cabin and we shut ourselves in with him, to make sure that not even a thread of light filtered through. Our clients are all a bit odd, we know this and try to make them happy. On the other hand when you come here, order and pay what you pay for a boat of this kind, you have the right to be odd.

Going back to boats under construction?

We've got two 51-metres, both commissioned by clients of ours. One has already had 4 of our boats and this one is the largest. The other 51- metre is for an American client, who is again a past client of two of our boats. One of the characteristics of the Codecasa brand is in fact client loyalty. They put a lot of trust in Codecasa, not only for us to satisfy technical requirements, but also for the splendid human relations that are set with Fulvio Codecasa and with all his family. These Americans nearly all have family companies and come here with their sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren and here they find Fulvio with his daughters, other words the Codecasa family is here to welcome them and a very special relationship is set up between the two nuclei, that then lasts over time.

New plans?

Also with aim of filling a gap, we have decided to put an open into production, completely in aluminium, in light alloy. Codecasa has obviously decided to build it himself, to give better results. The idea is to make it in part the family boat and Codecasa, who is a demanding owner, is asking for the best from this boat with the intention of enjoying it a bit himself this summer, to then present it at the various shows, starting with the Genoa Boat Show, which we have already registered for.

It's a fast boat so does it have special propulsion?

It's got two MTU engines, with Kamewa Rolls Royce hydro jets that give it a maximum speed of 38 knots. It's a real open but with the characteristics of a 35-metre motor yacht, so with suitable guest cabins. In other words, an open that is a real motor yacht, because its main deck can become an open, but offers a real saloon, completely closed, an open air swimming pool, a tender in the stern, basically most of the requisites you find on a 35-metre fly yacht.

The bottom is new for Codecasa as you have always been dedicated to displacing bottoms, so did you study it? What kind of difficulties did you encounter with hydro jet propulsion?

We studied the bottom together with Prof. Bacigalupo. Then we did tank testing with him and it gave the results that we expected with this power and this type of propulsion: 38 knots.

Above all for those who sail in Florida, with its shallows.

Well done, yes, precisely for that reason. Seeing as how with this kind of boat, people tend to approach roadsteads, small beaches and the coast, we believe that hydro jet propulsion is the most suitable.

How come you don't build in fibreglass?

It's a philosophy thing. We don't particularly like fibreglass. A boat built in metal, aluminium or steel can be personalised as you like; a fibreglass construction is a mould and a mould always remains identical to its original shape.

Can personalisation on your materials be made at any moment?

Whenever you like. When our 50-metres came into being, they had a slightly more streamlined bow. Do you know how many times we modified the bows and the stern of our 50-metres before we got on to this kind of bow, which is the one that excites everyone? Codecasa has an almost maniacal approach to this kind of detail and looks after this aspect personally. He gets in there each time with the architects and the designers and refines the lines of the bow, its roundness etc. Each detail on the boat must be screened by him and not only during the design and study phases but also during building. He is in the boatyard from half past six in the morning, with me until seven, eight o'clock in the evening, every God given day.

A workaholic.

He goes through each detail with a fine tooth comb and if he doesn't like what he finds - even if the surveyor and the owner do, who are there on site - he tells me that that particular bit isn't right and that it must be redone, because the boat must satisfy him before it satisfies the client. This is Mr. Codecasa's philosophy and also because of this the owners, our clients, appreciate him.

Let's go back to the 35 open, can you tell me something about its interiors and how the boat is laid out?

We've already mentioned the Jacuzzi, the sundeck, the jet-skis and the garage in the stern. The saloon on the other hand is obtained by completely covering an area to the bows, even giving it glass doors and a roof that can be completely slid open.

So we've got an air conditioned room that when necessary can be opened or closed.

To give a saloon-dining room and wheelhouse, the latter made in such a way that it remains separate, thanks to a sliding door, from the entertainment area. With the roof open it gives an open-air area, closed it's a real saloon-dining room, inside and fully air- conditioned. Then moving down we find the galley, the skipper's cabin and a cabin for the two crewmen. After there is a double cabin with bathroom, two twin guest cabins and a VIP cabin in the bows. In the far bows we have built quarters for another two members of crew should a client want a larger crew, in addition to the skipper and the standard two members. In the stern there's the engine room and in the far stern the garage with a Zodiac hydro propulsion rubber dinghy.


The ceremony for launching the m/y "Maria Carla" was held on 12th June at the Codecasa shipyard. This yacht was built specifically for the owner of the yard, who decided to name this creature of his after his wife, Mrs. Maria Carla Codecasa. The fascinating ceremony, which was attended by local authorities, the press and friends and relations of the owners, who were indeed playing a home game, was followed by a tour of the yacht, enabling us to analyse the technical and stylistic solutions adopted by the yard for this beautiful specimen of open 35-metre yacht.