The origins of Sanlorenzo date back to 1958, when Italian yacht builder Giovanni Jannetti founded the Cantiere Navali San Lorenzo shipyard in Viareggio, Italy. The company’s history spans across 50 years and during that time the brand has gained a strong reputation for quality, reliability and timeless elegance. Having produced over 600 yachts, the company today ranks second in the 2015 Global Order Book, which lists the world’s top 10 superyacht builders.
Now owned by Italian businessman Massimo Perotti, who became a majority shareholder in the shipyard in 2005, the company operates two shipyards in Ameglia and Viareggio. The Ameglia yard offers bespoke fiberglass planing and semi-displacement motor yachts from 76ft to 118ft, and fiberglass superyachts from 92ft to 126ft in composite material. The Viareggio yard produces alloy and steel planing, semi-displacement and displacement superyachts from 40m to 60m plus. Each yacht comes with its own unique layout and décor, and is ‘Made to Measure’ for clients who demand nothing but the best. Sanlorenzo has recently expanded its footprint in China and Asia by entering into two new partnerships; one with Sundiro Holdings in China, the other with Simpson Marine Ltd.
From 1958 all yachts produced by the Sanlorenzo shipyard were constructed in wood, it was only in 1995 that the first fibreglass yacht was launched. The SL75 set the scene for a new breed of Sanlorenzo luxury motor yachts, but it was not until the SL100 was launched in 1998 that Sanlorenzo established itself as a premier superyacht builder. The company expanded its operating facilities in 1999 by opening a new facility in Ameglia, La Spezia, located in a nature park and the company’s commitment to the environment was acknowledged when they received the ISO 14001 certification for Environmental Management. The next major milestone for Sanlorenzo was in 2005 when the ownership of the company changed hands and Massimo Perotti acquired a majority shareholding.
Timeless classical beauty has always been the key feature of the yachts produced by the Sanlorenzo shipyard and the company’s philosophy remains focused towards an undivided concentration on customers’ requirements. Over the last 10 years Sanlorenzo has launched no fewer than 11 important and significant new models, full of innovation and cutting-edge solutions, but always defined by the Sanlorenzo style.
These included three units of the SD92 (27m) and one SD112 (33.6m), all semi-displacement hulls in composite construction. The traditional flying bridge range of planing hull motor yachts includes the SL76 (23m), SL86 (26m), SL96 (28m) and the SL106 (32m) which was the winner of the Italian Innovation ADI Award in 2011.
In 2007, the 40Alloy was launched. This extraordinary yacht, with a lightweight aluminum hull and superstructure, is capable of reaching speeds of 27kts. Sanlorenzo was the first builder to incorporate ‘terraces’ into the superstructure – now a common feature on superyachts. Sporting such a thoroughly avant garde solution (at the time), a total of nine 40Alloys were commissioned and launched.
The 46Steel is the largest yacht ever built by Sanlorenzo. Constructed in steel and aluminum, and launched in February 2010, she was 44Steel, but was then changed to 46Steel (46 being the length of the waterline), to better balance the exterior outline. With a semi-wide body, the yacht is a three-deck bulbous bow superyacht of 499GT, to remain under the 500GT SOLAS limit. Her elegance is complemented by unique characteristics such as the wide beach club with folding beach door to water level and gym behind, and the Under Lower Deck, which is in reality a fifth deck, fully walkable from engine room to bow which permits easy access to all the systems and equipment of the yacht. The 46Steel boasts a garage with a starboard side door that can host a 7m tender, and then there is the vast flying bridge, a properly multi-functional sun deck shaded by a Sanlorenzo hard top with opening roof.
World Wide Premieres
After two decades of uninterrupted success for the SL72 and SL82, Sanlorenzo has decided to refresh these two models, working with one of Italy’s most reputable design companies, Officina Italiana Design, managed by Mauro Micheli and Sergio Beretta. The new SL86 motor yacht, unveiled at the Cannes Yachting Festival this year, is sure to be a hit with its innovative features, including a living area in the bow with sofas, table, chairs and adjustable sunshades. In the main salon, large windows allow guests to enjoy a sea view while seated, without compromising the classic Sanlorenzo exterior lines, and a floating glass staircase to the flying bridge has been incorporated into the main lounge area in a manner reminiscent of a piece of contemporary art. Below decks, and sound-insulated to no more than a whisper, the SL86 is powered by two MTU 12V2000 M94 (1,947 hp) engines and can reach a maximum speed of 32kts.
Another world premiere during 2015 will be the first steel explorer superyacht, the 460Exp at the Monaco Yacht Show. This will be the flagship model of the Sanlorenzo Explorer range, and is designed by Francesco Paszkowski. At only 460 gross tonnes and 42m overall length, the 460Exp offers stability, security, autonomy, limited draft and a considerable agility for its category. It is able to reach distant or rarely visited destinations and can navigate close to the shoreline. The Sanlorenzo Explorer offers substantial self-sufficiency and contains a large space on board to house different toys and equipment. The lower deck features a beach club with bar, sauna, fitness area, spa and an “endless swimming pool” in which guests can swim against an artificial current. The 460Exp is equipped with two CAT C32 Acert engines (1319 HP) capable of covering over 4000 non-stop nautical miles at an economical speed of 11kts.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Massimo Perotti’s acquisition of Sanlorenzo, there is a new collaboration with American designer Chris Bangle and the CBA team who will be involved with the next generation yacht exteriors. This marks the beginning of a new chapter in the design for Sanlorenzo yachts, bringing a fresh ‘voice’ into the all-important creative process of these luxury products. While Chris Bangle is well known in the circles of car design – having lead the team of designers at BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce while Group Design Director of BMW for 17 years – this will be his first foray into the world of superyachts. Bangle’s creative vision, design leadership and track record of successful innovation dovetails perfectly into the strategic goals of Sanlorenzo and the passionate expertise of their engineers, architects, and craftsmen.
Over 350 guests from all over the world were given the chance in 2015 to interact with the whole Sanlorenzo range. Fourteen Sanlorenzo yachts were moored alongside main quay of Carlo Riva Port, which was specially leased for the occasion, allowing guests a unique chance to experience the Sanlorenzo fleet through on board visits and sea trials in beautiful Portofino Bay. The underlying theme of the ‘Elite Days’ was an effort to demonstrate Sanlorenzo’s unique and bespoke philosophy, whilst offering the guests a variety of made to measure experiences. These included an opportunity to disassemble and reassemble a watch mechanism in a démontage show by IWC Schaffhausen’s master watchmakers; the chance to create a personal fragrance under the guidance of Sileno Cheloni, the Master Perfumer and ‘nose’ of Florence’s Aquaflor boutique; getting carried away by the elegance of the Rolls-Royce Ghost made available to guests as a courtesy car; driving wonderful classic cars along Portofino Bay in a rally; enjoying the thrill of flying a drone over Carlo Riva Port – or driving BMW’s innovative C Evolution electric scooters. Guests were also invited to experience an art installation by Giovanni Frangi on board Sanlorenzo’s 40m superyacht, the 40Alloy, whilst enjoying the delicate pairing of upstream salmon with Laurent-Perrier Champagne and the option to sample Diadema’s finest Cuban cigars. A beautiful gala dinner was held for the guests in the historic Villa Cervara overlooking views of the Portofino coastline.
In 2013 Sanlorenzo S.p.A. entered into a joint venture with Sundiro Holdings to build a new range of yachts branded Sundiro Yacht for the China market. Sundiro Holdings are Simpson Marine’s strategic partner to help develop the China market, Simpson Marine being the sole distributor of Sanlorenzo across Asia including mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Zhao Xu Hong, Chairman of Sundiro Holdings Co. Ltd, was delighted to present the worldwide launch of the SY70 at the recent Gold Coast Boat Show in Hong Kong. The joint venture will allow Sundiro Holdings to produce yachts from 10m to 20m in China, as well as sell motor yachts from 22m to 62m built in Italy into the China market.
The new joint venture has given Sanlorenzo a capital increase of EU30million that still allows the Italian majority shareholding of the company to remain in the hands of Perotti. Another strategic partnership is with Simpson Marine Ltd, who represent countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China, and is now the exclusive Asian distributor for Sanlorenzo.
“Sanlorenzo has had a presence in the Asian market in the past, but this new partnership with Simpson Marine makes perfect sense as the companies share common values and vision,” said Perotti. “Sanlorenzo represents a history and a future in which passion for quality, elegance and exclusivity becomes a common heritage, and we are pleased to see that our made to measure approach is proving very attractive to our customers across the Asia Pacific region.”
Made To Measure
Massimo Perotti became the Chairman and CEO of Sanlorenzo just over 10 years ago, but this was not his first involvement in the boating industry. “It all started with a chance meeting with Paolo Vitelli,” says Perotti. “I met the creator and driving force behind the Azimut brand when I was doing some part time tennis coaching… I was studying for an MBA at Bocconi University, and when I graduated Vitelli invited me to work with him – and I did so for the next 25 years.”
Perotti arrived at Azimut with little knowledge or experience of the boating world, but the 1980s were heady times for the industry and he learned all he needed to on the job. “I started working in the shipyard, and learning sales and production first hand. When I started at Azimut there were 25 staff – by the time I left in 2004, the company had grown to a workforce of 3,000 with an equity rating that had climbed from EU200 million to EU650 million.”
By now, in his mid-40s, Perotti felt he had reached the point when he wanted ‘more’, so decided to branch out on his own. “Sanlorenzo S.p.A is one of the last expressions of exclusivity, and that was exactly the dimension I was looking for. It was the ‘Made to Measure’ approach to exquisite craftsmanship that attracted me. I wanted a company that I could develop in my own way. My father was an artisan who ran a small business, and although he worked hard and produced quality goods, he never really achieved the financial rewards that he deserved. But he believed in quality and that was a good life lesson for me.”
Perotti approached Giovanni Jannetti, founder of Sanlorenzo, in 2004 to buy the company but the owner wouldn’t sell unless Perotti worked with him for one year. “Jannetti felt that I still needed to learn a lesson or two, before I could buy his baby. The first thing he said to me was that I needed to learn to slow down! I arrived all fired up from my experiences from Azimut and the acquisition and relaunch of the Benetti shipyard, but Jannetti felt that this was not the right way to approach the Sanlorenzo brand. He taught me how to run the company in a different way, the Italian ‘slow cooking’ way… you go to a supermarket to buy fast food, but if you really want to enjoy the dining experience then you need to be involved in cooking the pasta, making the sauce and then finally eating the special dish that has been prepared. It becomes a beautiful experience rather than a product to satisfy a need.” Perotti goes on to give another example, “If you go out for dinner with a beautiful woman do you eat fast, or do you savour the experience and try to make it last as long as possible?”
Perotti took over Sanlorenzo in 2005, and the first four years saw the company grow quickly. But then came the 2008 financial crisis, and hard times for almost everyone. “I worked 16 hours a day, and we managed to maintain the company’s position as one of the top superyacht builders in the world. Difficult times can create opportunities,” he quips.
The luxury yacht business is not an easy business to manage. “Boating is about passion, and you just need to look at the iconic brands such as Riva, or Ferretti, to see that they were all started by passionate people – Carlo Riva, and Norberto Ferretti. Superyachts are a very specialised product, and when your customer is spending EU10million, they want to be looked after in the right way.” Perotti doesn’t want Sanlorenzo to be the biggest superyacht yard in the world, but he is committed to producing the best quality yachts, and meet the needs of the most demanding of owners. “For me it is not just about the money; it is about the quality of life, and that is one of the reasons why the Sanlorenzo brand is important to me.”
Perotti believes it is this desire for quality that connects the Sanlorenzo brand to the Chinese boating market. “The Chinese are now enjoying the finer things in life. We have never been the first to enter an emerging market; instead, we wait until we feel there is a real understanding of quality. If you have time for good cigars and single malt whisky then maybe you have time to enjoy the luxury of boating.”
Sanlorenzo’s commitment to the East is very much in evidence these days with the new partnership with Sundiro Holdings, who are producing motor yachts in the 10m to 20m range for the Chinese market. The new SY70 had its worldwide launch at this year’s Hong Kong Gold Coast Boat Show, and the yacht’s interior designed by Chris Bangle has brought a fresh approach successfully combining the taste of the Orient with ‘classic Italian heritage’. Perotti believes Hong Kong is going to be their best market, but – with the rest of Asia opening up quickly – there is opportunity to expand to Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia all of whom are developing their own boating culture.
Perotti, who had been looking for a Chinese partner for some time, says “I was looking for someone who really understands what luxury and quality are all about. Our partner Zhou Xuhong, based in Shanghai, produces top quality motorcycles. He understands why you need to pay more for luxury products, and with that understanding I believe our companies can grow in the right way.”
Sanlorenzo has also entered into another new partnership – with Simpson Marine Ltd, Asia’s leading yacht sales and brokerage company. Mike Simpson and Massimo Perotti have known each other for many years, and “our partnership makes perfect sense,” says Perotti. “We share common values and vision, and this partnership will provide the strategic services in Asia and back up that luxury yacht customers require.” Perotti sees the Asian yachting industry evolving rapidly. With such an east-west partnership in place this 54-year old veteran of the boating industry is ready to share his passion for quality, elegance and exclusivity with Asia.
Text by Suzy Rayment, Editor-at-Large, Yacht Style
In Asia, Sunlorenzo is available exclusively via Simpson Marine.
This article first appeared in Yacht Style Magazine.