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SUPERYACHT #513
January 2005

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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Interview with Dr. Maurizio Magri from C.B.I. Navi by Fabio Petrone


THE "LIONS" FROM VERSILIA

The C.B.I. Navi boatyard is a good example of the excellent period that boatyards in Viareggio are currently enjoying, above all in the sector of larger boats. While in fact the whole super-yacht sector is continuing to show good results, without doubt a knock-on effect of large groups specialised in series construction, things would seem to have taken the right direction also for custom productions, a type that is also well-rooted in Versilia, with yards like C.B.I. Navi working at full capacity to meet orders already in hand for the 2005 season but in particular also for the following ones.

To give the best outline of this industrial reality, structured however to produce according to top craftsmanship standards, we went to interview Dott. Maurizio Magri, managing director of the company, whom we asked first of all for a declaration regarding the yard's company structure that, to our knowledge, has recently changed its main shareholder.

Dott. Magri, is it true that the C.B.I. Navi boatyard no longer belongs to an Italian?

Yes. With transfer of majority shares of CBI NAVI, last June we passed from an Italian owner to a foreign one. Quite frankly, the recently concluded operation represents an intermediate phase on the way to our company's final structure.

Will this entail any substantial changes regarding the yard's production philosophy?

I think it will have more affect on the kind of pleasure craft we will be offering current and potential owners rather any great changes in our production philosophy.

How much personalisation is possible with a super-yacht produced by your yard?

- This depends on the type of boat the owner is buying. If this is a semi-custom the level of personalisation mainly depends on the stage of construction at the moment the potential purchaser becomes actual owner of that specific boat. However his manoeuvring space will be limited to taste choices in furnishings (fabrics, carpet, furnishing elements in general). Whereas should the owner be purchasing a custom yacht, personalisation can even extend to technical details.

How comes you have never made boats in fibreglass?

I have a family tradition, which I am really attached to, and a professional past matured in "all-steel" transport craft and due to natural inclination steel is therefore the material I feel most "my own" and the one that makes me feel "safe", whether I am the one sailing or it is one of my owners setting out on a long boat trip.

Regardless of this due preamble I am convinced that building in fibreglass is very demanding and to bring this alongside production in steel would, I think, mean having two very distinct yards; this calls for non- indifferent technical, economic and productive commitment that I am not ready to face right now.

Where does the choice come from to not use planning bottoms for your boats?

This is dictated by the desire to build displacing boats in steel capable of challenging the sea with audacity, but always in absolute safety, if this is what one of my owner's wants. Once again it is my sailing past that leads me to build ships and not yachts. And finally, why not fully enjoy the incommensurable pleasure of sailing at 14 knots, finally in peace and quiet that only the sea (this is my own personal point of view, even if it shared by the majority of my owners) can offer instead of flying, jumping and moving from one point to another at 30 knots and more, in order to get to Porto Cervo in time for dinner, having missed out on the real meaning of sea travel? And when the sea is rough, then it really gets good.

Who looks after design for C.B.I. Navi yachts, both from a point of view of bottoms and for the interiors and exteriors?

Technical planning of our boats is entrusted to international external naval engineering studios, which collaborate closely with our internal studio. As far as the interior and exterior design is concerned, our friend Luca Dini has been collaborating for years with me and apart from a few cases when the owner has his own designer, it is Luca who looks after this very important stage of construction.

After the classic ship Papinou, which we admired at the last show in Montecarlo, what boats do you currently have in production and what plans do you have for the future?

For CBI Navi and myself August was a very satisfying month, so much so that we renamed it "A big August", borrowing the title of the film that for me, just like all surfers of my age, left an indelible sign: "a big Wednesday". In fact August saw delivery of the M/Y Papinou, a 34-metre pleasure boat, launch of the 51-metre M/Y Alibi and delivery of the 33-metre M/Y Baloo. For a yard of our size this certainly called for great effort, but was also incredibly satisfying, veiled maybe a little by the impossibility of showing all three of them at the Monaco boat show. It is not always easy to convince owners to do without their boats for at least a week. Currently we are working on a 37-metre and a 39-metre for which the contract has just been signed.

What is your reference market: Italy, Europe or North America, seeing that you also participate in the Fort Lauderdale boat show?

The product niche in which we work has Europe as its reference market even if we are keeping a close eye on Russia and China as emerging markets. Finally, we are outlining an important sales agreement in both Dubai and in Beirut.

Based on your experience, which developments could come about short-term in the super-yacht market?

I think that work done so far by Dr. Paolo Vitelli has been very important, guaranteeing considerable results both in the promotional and educational field, on the entertainment aspect of yachts and from a legislative profile. I believe that where Italian industry is not yet at acceptable levels is on the availability of berths. It is in fact a chronic problem and in my opinion the lack of tourist ports for boats that have by now reached sizes that were unthinkable a few years ago is by now critical.