Yachting News » Business » Grand Celebration for Benetti’s 150 Year Anniversary

Grand Celebration for Benetti’s 150 Year Anniversary

One hundred and fifty years of values, handed down from father to son, with a passion for excellence, design and technological innovation.

A shipyard that over the years has been able to create real works of art, the only one that can boast an example kept at the same home with Leonardo da Vinci's drawings, at the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan: the 'Brigantino San Giorgio', launched in 1921. In the 1960s, with Lorenzo Benetti, the shipyard revolutionised the yachting world by switching construction from wood to steel. As such, the modern megayacht concept was born, with the Delfino, Gabbiano and Mediterraneo series which became iconic boats. They recalled legendary tales of the aristocracy and international jet set in the years of 'la dolce vita'. From Rainier of Monaco to David Bowie, who used to spend his holidays on his 'El Caran' with Mick Jagger, Robin Williams, and Michael Caine.  The Beatles were often guests of their manager, the owner of a Delfino Benetti.

As Benetti's reputation kept growing, Adnan Kashoggi commissioned the most famous yacht of all time: the 'Nabila' later renamed the 'Trump Princess' by Donald Trump. Its extraordinary lines and luxurious fittings on board caused curiosity and a stir. The Nabila became such an icon that it was immortalized in James Bond’s film 'Never Say Never'. The band Queen also immortalized the Nabila with the song “Kashoggi’s Boat”. Despite its huge success, it was this very project that imposed the change of ownership.

In 1985, F.lli Benetti was acquired by Paolo Vitelli, the young owner of the Azimut yard, who held great admiration for the Livorno shipyard’s excellence in the luxury yacht industry. Under the new name, Cantiere Benetti, Vitelli implemented a financial restructuring plan to restore the brand to its former splendor. His intuition to use composite in the new Classic 115' line of 1988 led to the sale of a hundred examples in just 10 years, still an absolute record in the nautical world. With a pioneering approach and anticipating what would later become a component of conscious industrial development, more than two decades ago, Paolo Vitelli built the world's first diesel-electric yacht, the Ambrosia, in 2006. He also established an in-house R&D center, focusing on reducing consumption and increasing the use of sustainable materials.

One of the company's latest creations embodies Benetti's technology and know-how. Luminosity, launched in 2020 with its 107 metres, is the largest Giga yacht with a hybrid propulsion engine. In 2022, the B.Yond 37-metre was awarded the greenest yacht in its class for its innovative hybrid propulsion system. In the same year, the yard revolutionised the concept of onboard lifestyle with the Oasis Deck™ series. Its side-wing sterns that open flush to the water, created a new trend in the industry.

To celebrate this extraordinary milestone, on June 16th in Viareggio, where the shipyard's history began, an emotional Paolo Vitelli, founder of the Azimut|Benetti Group, his daughter Giovanna Vitelli, Chair and CEO Marco Valle, together with company employees, welcomed the local authorities to witness the deep bond with the territory. It was a moment to recall the history of two families who, at different times, have been able to share values and passion, but it was also an opportunity to embrace, thank and pay homage to their long-standing collaborators.

Then, on June 17th, the protagonists of the event were the ship-owners, who were invited to attend a spectacular evening at the Livorno Shipyard, which, thanks to its majestic 250,000 square metre area, today represents the largest shipyard in the Mediterranean.

Inside one of the warehouses, next to a yacht under construction, Belgian architect and set designer Charles Kaisin recalled the history of Benetti in an extraordinarily creative way and, with more than 50 waiters/actors, entertained the guests with touches of brilliance: dishes served under cloches in the shape of ancient vessels, 'sound' shells from which to hear sounds and voices  of a yacht under construction, a 'flying' pianist and soprano, and hundreds of swaying lights. Outside the marina hosted some of Benetti’s most iconic yachts, creating a luminous landscape setting: the Odissey III, a 33-metre yacht from the Mediterraneo series dated 1967; Stella Fiera, the first unit of the Classic 115' series; El Caran that once belonged to David Bowie, and the very latest of the B.Now and Oasis Deck™ series.

Finally, on Sunday June 18th, the Livorno shipyard welcomed employees, their families and suppliers, offering fun activities such as visits to the lighthouse and the fleet of boats, sporting activities such as sailing trials organized by the Antignano Sailing Club, and cultural activities such as visits to the shipyard museum and the 'Scenari di Cantiere' (Shipyard Scenarios), a show held by the city's Goldoni Theatre. The company's long-standing employees received a valuable award while some selected among the youngest were offered a special training course for their professional growth, confirming their central role for the shipyard.

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