Following our recent series where we gave a little insight into the Grabau International brokerage team, we now turn our attention to the men and women behind the yachting brands we are proud to represent. Beginning this series, we talk to Alessandro Vismara, founder and president of Vismara Marine.
GI – Please introduce yourself and your position within Vismara Marine?
AV – I am Alessandro Vismara and I am the president and founder of Vismara Marine
GI – Tell us about your background and how you ended up with Vismara Marine?
AV – It all started with dinghy racing on Lake Como and then the desire to navigate in the open ocean. I followed my heart and went to Southampton to attend the world-renowned Naval Architecture courses, specialising in Applied Hydrodynamics and Performance Prediction. While I was there, I had an epiphany. I wanted to provide clear scientific answers to questions of yacht design. This was during the 1980s when yacht design was all about experience and feeling. I started to design racing yachts using a truly scientific approach and the yachts we produced went on to win many international and World championship regattas in under the IOR and IMS rating rules. By the middle of the 1990s, with my name made in racing yacht design, I had a further realisation. I saw the opportunity through the application of scientific design and integrated technology to bring racing yacht performance to the cruising fraternity. Just because you are not racing for a trophy does not mean that you do not want to sail well, sail efficient, and sail fast. Within just ten years, and with an entire fleet of custom yachts launched bearing this design mentality, I decided to take the next logical step and provide my clients with a complete service with the creation of a brand that integrated design research, construction and after-sales service -Vismara Marine.
GI – Tell us about some of your most memorable boating moments?
AV – As always memories go back to the earliest stages. In 1987 we designed and built a very radical 3/4 Ton racing yacht in full carbon fibre. This was many years before the general acceptance of carbon fibre in the marine world and the end result was an extremely lightweight yacht that required much less sail area than her competitors. The boat named ‘GEN MAR’ was the first of a new breed – new light versus traditional heavy. Just three days after her launching ceremony we went on to win the Italian Championship and then went on to finish on the podium in that season’s World Championships. This was a boat I designed at home and built in a garage with friends. It was the moment when it all made sense and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Vismara designed 3/4 Ton racer ‘GEN MAR’ launched in 1987
Another important and memorable moment for me came in 1990 when I became the Baltic Yachts dealer and service agent for the Mediterranean. This collaboration with one of the most iconic and technologically innovative builders in the industry gave me the reputation, credibility and experience that really opened the doors to our new business. For over 30 years we have worked together to create of some of the most beautiful composite performance yachts to grace the oceans and provide the services to maintain, refit, modify and rebuild the yachts for their devoted owners.
GI – Tell us a little bit about the history of Vismara Marine?
AV – I have always tried to follow my passion and seek out the best solutions to develop new technologies and new approaches while staying close to the market. Our aim is to lead and not follow. During the 1980s it was the time of single designers, working as a single design office. Into the 1990s we were one of the first design offices to understand that the design office should also take full responsibility for the final result, so Vismara Yacht Design became a ‘general contractor’, selling not just the design, but the boat and also sometimes the management. Into the 2000s we became more dedicated to the Vismara brand and the desire to build a reputation for full-service yacht design and manufacture. We closed Vismara Yacht Design and moved our design team into a new group – Vismara Marine Group. This was a set of three companies catering for design, construction and associated services. In 2007 we were able to bring all of this together with the creation of Vismara Marine at our new shipyard in Viareggio. I like to refer to our home as a ‘design boatyard’. We are an atelier where a client can design, build and then service their yacht, all under the same roof and the same brand.
GI – Which present-day Vismara Marine yacht would you like to sail off into the sunset?
AV – The soul sometimes is different from the brain. I live in a world of technology, research and innovation in the quest for optimal performance, so my brain would choose one our recently-launched Nacira 69, a truly ground-breaking offshore performance yacht which will happily sail towards the sunset at 20 knots thanks to her radical hull design and the worlds first telescopic canting keel. My soul moves less quickly and 15 knots would be perfect for me, so perhaps I would take the combination of comfort and performance afforded by the Vismara V62s ‘YORU’ and ‘WIZARD’, or the newly-launched Vismara V68 ‘PELOTARI’, which we designed in collaboration with Mark Mills. A Lamborghini is great fun, but sometimes a Bentley works too.
GI – You have designed and built some truly legendary boats over the years. Name your favourite past Vismara yachts and why?
AV – Some yachts create milestones in our lives so my list must surely start with the first. We designed and build the 3/4 Ton ‘LACE WING’ in 1983 in partnership with Luca Taddei. In 1984 we won both the Italian and English Championships and went on to dominate at that year’s Cowes Week with a ‘younger’ me tailing the winches.
The Vismara designed 3/4 Ton ‘LACE WING’ from 1983
With the momentum of success pulling us along, we went on to produce some legendary winning boats such as the Vismara V40 IMS ‘PISTRICE’ of 1992 which is still winning races today, and her later sistership ‘QUERIDA’, launched in 1996 and built to cruise for a month each year and then race for the rest. She won the Sardinia Cup in her first season and later in 2001 took the top step of the podium in the Giraglia.
The Vismara V40 IMS ‘PISTRICE’ of 1992
Perhaps the ultimate incarnation of the ‘cruise for a month, rest for the rest’ is the incredible Vismara V62 RC ‘SUPERNIKKA’. The first design to come from our collaboration with Mark Mills and a boat which has gone on to win the Maxi Worlds four times while still providing her owner with a luxurious family cruising yacht each summer.
There are of course many many more including our first 100ft yacht, ‘BEBIVI’, the amazing Vismara V80 ‘LUCE GUIDA’ of 2011 featuring a jacuzzi, ornate glazed bulkheads and an enormous opening sunroof over her forward saloon area.
The 2018-launched Vismara V100B ‘BEBIVI’
The Vismara V80 ‘LUCE GUIDA’ from 2011
Then there are some of the truly spectacular and individual yachts such as the ‘Mono-maran’ ‘JUNOPLANO’, an 18 metre ULDB design from 1996 with a 3.80m beam, 60 degree canting keel and rotating carbon fibre un-stayed wing mast, and the timeless 60ft ‘KIRRIBILLI’ designed in partnership with world-famous Italian architect Renzo Piano.
The Vismara launched 60ft ‘KIRRIBILLI designed in collaboration with architect Renzo Piano
I will finish my list with the Vismara C57 Catamaran ‘OBI ONE’. Launched in 2007, she was our first catamaran and paved the way for a new generation of lightweight, performance cruising catamarans that now seem to be so heavily in vogue. This is an area I am keen to look at again, so if you have a client….
GI – You are perhaps best known for designing and building sailing yachts, but you have also have some new motor yacht projects in build such as the new Vismara MY34 ‘WEEKENDER’. Tell us a little about this move?
AV – Design approach, science and technology – All of these factors lead us to understand the sense of making a better yacht. For motor yachts we have actually designed and built a few custom projects in recent years, all for owners who were sailing previously and understood the importance of incorporating these factors. All Vismara yachts are designed and built using the equation of lightness – a lighter hull designed with optimised hydrodynamics can be fitted with engines half the size to achieve the same speed, can feature a deeper ‘V’ hull to drive better through the waves, and reach the plane at lower speeds. If you can stay on the plane using less power, you will also suffer less noise, vibration and dramatically less fuel consumption. When you think about it, it is so simple, yet we rarely see it in action. For us, any Vismara motor yacht must be a proper ship and not a floating house. It must be built to go to sea in all weathers, demonstrating efficiency, comfort and silence. We do not design floating houses but real yachts that can motor in bad weather. A great example of this ethos is the Vismara MY52 ‘BWAVE’. This was one of our first ventures into the motor yacht world and was launched in 2008 yet in today’s aesthetic design-driven world, she still looks as fresh as the day she was first launched. Another is the Vismara MY56 ‘SHIFT’ from 2012 which introduced to the market the ‘Navetta’ style of performance motor yacht which has since been widely emulated by mainstream manufacturers. Thanks to her highly advanced technology construction, SHIFT’s displacement was reduced by 30-40% which in turn allowed fitment of much 435hp smaller power units to achieve a 28-knot maximum, 22-knot cruise and incredible 12-knot planing speed. in turn SHIFT’s design and construction also generates less fuel consumption, less noise, and easier, and an overall more comfortable navigation for her owners.
The ‘Navetta’ styled Vismara MY56 ‘SHIFT’ from 2012
GI – How has Vismara Marine been reacting to the Covid-19 situation?
AV – We have reacted with a positive mind and have adapted all of the company processes to comply with the most stringent procedures for the safety of our team. We have also used this opportunity to plan ahead to the next phase of our company existence.
GI – What does the future hold for Alessandro Vismara and Vismara Marine?
AV – I have a strong feeling that the right future for us is to look back at what has built our reputation. The solid foundations created by focussing on the personal involvement of a small team of highly experienced professionals, dedicated to design and production to the highest standard with strong attention to customer care. For us, the future is not in building thousands of yachts, but building fewer, better. We are blessed to work with highly knowledgeable clients who understand what they want and what we can do for them to help them achieve their goals. The first step will be the renaming of our business to ‘Vismara Marine Concepts’. We will work to create a more international approach to our teamwork, partnering with only the very best companies and names in their respective sectors to provide technical solutions for our clients. For us the concept is quite simple. We will use all that we have learnt in our 35-year history to become not larger, but better, and in turn, to create a better world for our clients.
GI – Finally, what do you get up to when you manage to escape from the office?
AV – For those so passionately and deeply involved in the yachting world, we know that escaping from the office can be difficult as there is no boundary between work and leisure time. This is a quandary of our making and we ask no sympathy for it. For me, when I am away from the office, I can use the time to think and evolve concepts in my mind without the immediate pressure to perform. As an Italian, we are blessed with the most beautiful countryside the best mountains for skiing, the best sailing grounds, the finest cultural arts, and without doubt, the best food and wine. I like to enjoy all of these with my family and my friends.
The Chianti Region – Just a short drive from the Vismara Marine shipyard in Viareggio and the culturally rich city of Florence
Please contact Grabau International for more information about building your dream custom project with Alessandro Vismara and his team.
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