Leading executives in the Asian venture are three of the most successful and experienced professionals in the region. Chaoyong Wang is founder of Team China, the first Asian entry into the Americas Cup, and fierce believer in developing yachting in China. Traugott Kaminski, an early proponent of yachting lifestyles to the Chinese tycoons, established Sunseeker in China where his initiative to import the first two luxury yachts in 2003 dubbed him the nickname of “the Godfather of yachting in China” by local media. And last but not least, Paul Brackley, whose Central Yacht Design Company in Hong Kong has been responsible for design, production or credits for four of Asia’s top 40 superyachts.
Brackley takes up the story: “Much-lauded style entrepreneur Giovanni Costantino has combined two of the most iconic Italian yacht builders, Admiral and Tecnomar, into one prestigious shipyard, The Italian Sea Group. The firm will have extensive engineering, design and production resources using state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques and processes brought from the luxury furniture industry. The result is a marriage made in heaven, offering tradition, technologies, quality, value and impeccable service, with a dedicated team in Asia.”
Admiral is an iconic and reputable Italian shipyard renowned for creating gentleman’s yachts of choice. The firm is located on the gorgeous north Italian coast, near enchanting Cinqueterra, where The Italian Sea Group’s main facility resides.
Admiral has a long-earned a reputation for excellent, seaworthy, efficient and comfortable yachts with unrivalled build quality and attentive after-sales support. Their earliest boats, handcrafted from wood after World War II, were launched from the shore, in the old-fashioned way, down a slipway. During the growing affluence in the 1970s and 1980s, production shifted to steel and aluminium and the size of the yachts increased.
Founded in 1987, Tecnomar is a more recent shipyard born to design and build cutting edge and innovative smaller yachts with a focus on performance. Tecnomar has always appealed to a younger, more fashionable and style-conscious clientele. It was established by experienced yacht builders who are very close to the heart of Italian yacht construction in Versilia, the stretch of coast running from La Spezia to Pisa. In 2007 both shipyards were well-established, catering to their respective markets under the leadership of traditional shipyard management. However, neither were prepared for the devastation of the financial crisis of 2008.
Enter the hero and saviour of their stories – Giovanni Costantino. He is not a naval architect or seaman by training or experience but has a strong background in luxury furniture making and also a connection with one of the leading Italian designer who are famous for their luxury car styling.
Costantino’s early career was a passionate association with Natuzzi in the south of Italy, responsible for Research and Development, not just creating innovative design but analysing how to manufacture with the best quality materials in the most efficient way.
Working alongside Costantino at Natuzzi, and now at the shipyard running their production, is Giuseppe Taranto, whose management skills are behind the unique production facility. In 2009, Costantino was ready for a challenge focusing on the yacht industry. He observed that even till today, many brands use outdated practices and methods from the heavy shipbuilding industry carried over into what is essentially luxury craftsmanship.
The distinction between Admiral and Tecnomar is that Admiral focuses on steel and aluminium yachts from 35- to 145-metre. Tecnomar produces aluminium and composite yachts from 16- to 39-metre.
He bought first Tecnomar and later Admiral, consolidating the two shipyards – with the best philosophies from both yards – into The Italian Sea Group. Seizing the opportunity in 2012 to buy the assets of one of the most important commercial shipyards in the region, NCA, both Admiral and Tecnomar moved into prestigious and unique corporate headquarters in Marina di Carrara in 2013.
The marble quarries in the mountains where the stone, for which Carrara takes its name, rise up in the dramatic mountains just behind the shipyard. The stone which was used by Michelangelo in his famous statue of David came from these same hills. The region is full of history, culture and creativity. “The facilities of the shipyard”, Paul Brackley resumes, “are unrivalled because it owns one of the largest private dry docks in the Mediterranean, capable of taking yachts up to 200 metre with ease.”
New production sheds with dedicated steel and aluminium fabrication on site (not subcontracted out as so many other famous yards in Italy do) mean the production team can control all the major elements of the build. It goes without saying that furniture and interior outfitting is crafted by the shipyard’s in-house furniture maker. This holistic approach not only achieves production efficiency but also a remarkable improvement in quality. After all, the most important part of any yacht visible to the owner is the interior joinery. As the saying goes, ‘the devil is in the details’.
The unique design philosophy of the founder is evident when one visits the yard. Costantino is not just focused on making yachts or a brand. Rather, he is creating a whole new approach to yachting lifestyle. The offices, grounds and even workshops are not just impeccably clean and well-presented, there are also important works of art on display all around the shipyard.
The facility is an inspiring place because beauty and creativity are rife. Costantino has surrounded himself with a team of young and passionate technicians, engineers and designers. They are led by a highly experienced management team who share Costantino’s vision of how yachts not only should be built, but the environment in which they should be made”.
“Admiral is still the gentleman’s yacht of choice, but with the added creativity of the revitalised Group’s DNA, the shipyard has created objects of rare beauty. While the shipyard can work with external designers, many owners prefer to work directly with the yard’s in-house team”, says Brackley.
Tecnomar also benefits from having the power and resources of the entire shipyard design and engineering facilities to develop their state-of-the-art vessels. The recent launch of Tecnomar’s Evo range of fast yachts has set tongues wagging in the yachting world.
Two of the flagship yachts of this series are currently under production for Chinese clients with the first due to be launched in July 2018. These semi-production, all-aluminium beauties will be a game changer in Asia, bringing a whole new level of experience and quality to this size of yacht, which has until now been based on production line, cost-saving glass reinforced plastic yachts.
Indeed, after consolidating development and growth in Europe, Admiral and Tecnomar are now powering into Asia with the partners outlined above. The Hong Kong Boat Show in 2015 had seen a fortuitous meeting between Traugott Kaminski and myself, which led to us teaming up to seek out the best luxury yacht builders with the power, style and vision to take on what is undoubtedly a major world market share in yachting lifestyle.
Many shipyards were considered, but The Italian Sea Group was the definitive, outstanding choice. The vision of the shipyard – the heart of their success – is the founding principle of this dynamic partnership, and also the creation of a new luxury lifestyle concept in the yachting world.
The core of Kaminski’s belief is to ensure everything about a yacht owner’s experience is luxurious. Selling yachts is a small detail in the complete service that Kaminski brings, because he ensures that every facet of ownership is a pleasure. These are not just words. This is a promise of investment in support that no other shipyard can match.
The final part of the perfect jigsaw puzzle was to find a powerful partner in Asia. Step forward Mr Chaoyong Wang, founder of China Equity Group, major shareholders of Aston Martin among other premium luxury brands. Wang is a visionary and pioneer of yachting in China whose knowledge and insights are of immense value to The Italian Sea Group and the offshoot TISG Asia based in Hong Kong.
The new partnership created is poised to support and market Admiral and Tecnomar yachts in the whole of Asia. With their combined experience, the team has created the Tecnomar Evo Ice White Edition, specifically conceived for the demands and exigencies of the Southeast Asian market, which is increasingly the most stylish and quality-conscious region in the world. The Italian Sea Group will definitely be on the radar of discriminating yachting owners who desire a luxurious lifestyle on the seas.
Words by Joe Lim | Images courtesy of The Italian Sea Group