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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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Article by
Angelo Colombo

A return to pleasure sailing

Isotta Fraschini, a Fincantieri company, had already worked for pleasure sailing in the past, but with objective difficulty in penetration of this commercial segment. The main problem then was that the IF brand found it difficult to enter an industrial logic made up of large numbers and low costs, which was the norm for the bigger boatyards. IF motors were and still are engines that focus on performance and so have higher costs. Cost was therefore the element that more than any other led to Isotta Fraschini abandoning the pleasure craft segment, an obstacle that was not easy for the company to overcome as its commitments with the military and civil sector imposed qualitative standards which could not be ignored. Other engine manufacturers have started up large series production with industrial origins, not extremely brilliant engines but not expensive either and therefore in line with the intentions of those yards aiming to offer large series production craft. IF targets all those boats with performance as the main feature, in other words top bracket market niches. The new IF engines offer 650, 750 and 1300 HP. Some companies, such as Riva, might be interested in adopting the IF policy with a philosophy of prestige; this is the company's idea for penetrating the pleasure segment, even if they intend to offer something extra, such as engines with a high weight/power ratio, an objective that calls for very careful design work. It all starts at the drawing board; the next stage is the building of hollow engine blocks, implicating many complications in both design and moulding. The resulting products have the same resistance as full ones but weigh much less, even if this is very expensive. Components also greatly affect the whole question. Many engine producers also make pistons and other components, but IF has always chosen the best products available on the world market, preferring the most resistant, expensive materials in order to guarantee their engines a long life, which otherwise would not be possible. At this point it is merely a matter of finding clients who understand this added value called reliability. Another possible application of Isotta Fraschini engines could be on board fast commuters, where lots of power and limited weight are very important. This is what engineer Umberto Brandini sales manager for Isotta Fraschini. told us: "The military segment has been our satisfied client for many years precisely thanks to the reliability of our engines. In effect, IF is always on the lists of suppliers to the Armed Forces and often we are among the companies selected. This means that our quality protocols correspond to the rigid, severe characteristics imposed by these organisations. What the company has been developing for about a year are two large modifications to our engines, which will be ready next year. The first is HPCR or high-pressure common rail, produced by Bosch and which we believe to be the state of the art in common rail injection systems for diesel engines. The second modification, which we have already tried out successfully on the Corsa version of the new engine, is the introduction of four valves per cylinder. Together these two technical innovations will give the above-described characteristics, in other words, the desired weight/power ratio without compromising the life of the engine; we guarantee in fact 20,000 hours. These are working engines from which we manage to obtain, thanks to the combination of these two technologies, the highest kW/litre ratio, power per weight and per total cubature in the category. This is not just any old engine, but machines with a great deal of effort put into their design in order to achieve unique levels of efficiency. The new Isotta Fraschini will be light and capable of ensuring particularly reduced emissions, all this together with competitive consumption obtained through advanced technological solutions and limited weight. Naturally they are top of the range engines, dedicated to a particularly demanding niche, to those who want to go sailing with evolved and above all reliable engines". Fabio Buzzi has totally backed the Isotta Fraschini cause and during a press conference at the Genoa Boat Show he expressed all his admiration for the engine that he used in its standard version for the Venice-Montecarlo, the 1,300 HP V 1312 T2MSD, with which he won. Buzzi himself delivered the V3100 high performance service boats equipped with IF engines the Customs and Excise officers. He also intends to sell his boats with IF engines in the United States, but he will have to wait a while due to reasons linked to Isotta Fraschini, which is obviously having a very busy season.

In terms of assistance IF has a capillary network throughout Italy and the Mediterranean basin, while in the United States it has a company in Virginia and a base in Texas through which it ensures assistance for the entire USA market. These two companies also assist the American Navy for those boats equipped with Isotta Fraschini engines. Regarding other countries, the assistance network is expanding to cover the rest of the world in order to meet the needs of all interested markets. As far as guarantees are concerned, Isotta Frachini offers an extended, multi-year version on numerous components and parts. Already important yards are starting to use Isotta Fraschini engines on their yachts; furthermore Fincantieri, owner of the IF brand, is entering the super-yacht segment and launching its challenge in this sector, therefore IF is following the mother company philosophy, which will certainly mean its engines find the collocation they deserve in a market from which they had been too long absent.

Angelo Colombo