Photography by Alberto Cocchi
13 July 2023
With three days full of events, the 50th anniversary celebrations of Cantiere del Pardo took place in Portopiccolo, Trieste.
From 23 to 25 June, Cantiere del Pardo gathered designers, dealers from all over the world (from Thailand to the United States), leading personalities in the yachting industry and above all shipowners, Italian and beyond, to pay homage to a company that has built a successful story step by step.
The celebrations opened with a Gala dinner, held in the beautiful setting of the Sistiana Bay, and then continued, on the following days, with two moments of aggregation, fun and healthy competition: the traditional Grand Soleil Cup, at its 21st edition, and for the first time ever the Pardo Water Rally.
Not many nautical brands can boast of a career as long and successful as that of Cantiere del Pardo, which, after writing 50 years of yachting history, is still an international point of reference and a business model for future generations.
Established in 1973 from the vision and passion of Giuseppe Giuliani Ricci, and today firmly steered by the CEO Fabio Planamente and by the President Gigi Servidati, Cantiere del Pardo is the perfect example of a successful Italian company which, thanks to its deep and solid roots, has looked to the future and risen to new challenges with confidence, always combining innovation and tradition.
“The history of Cantiere del Pardo is rich and complex,” says Planamente. “It is easier to identify some milestones that coincide with the phases in which the company demonstrated its ability to adapt to changes, leading it to become what it is universally considered today – a flagship of the Italian shipbuilding industry.
“These milestones can be identified as three moments. First, the passing of the baton, or perhaps it would be better to say helm, from Giuseppe Giuliani Ricci to a series of funds; then the 2014 restart, after the darkest period of boating, and finally, the phase we hold most dear, the 2015–2017 three-year period.
“This coincides with the launch of the Long Cruise sailing range and, shortly after, the birth of the Pardo Yachts brand, which led us into the motor world, giving us the boost to look forward with confidence and grow more and more.”
Already a leader in the sailing boats market, with the legendary Grand Soleil Yachts brand, in 2016 Cantiere del Pardo decided to write another chapter in its long history, opening up to the motor yacht segment.
“The thought of building a motor boat had been around for some time because our nautical passion has always been 360°,” explains Gigi Servidati.
“So, when it was time for the shipyard to expand, Fabio and I thought we’d do it with some important innovations.”
The result is Pardo Yachts, a brand that conquered the Italian and international markets in a very short time. The boat that marks the début of Cantiere del Pardo in the motorboat segment, which launched the now famous walkaround with negative-V bow, is the Pardo 43, a 13 m boat with hull optimised for IPS propulsion (designed by Maurizio Zuccheri).
At its début in Cannes, 30 units were sold, which became 270 in just six years. What many considered a risky choice turned out to be a resounding success, which encouraged the shipyard to increase the range (with the Pardo 50 and Pardo 38 models) and diversify it to meet the ever-growing requests from owners. This is how the Endurance and GT lines were born.
The first line aimed to fill a void in the shuttle market, where there was a lack of cruising boats with a well-designed hull, equally efficient at speeds of ten, twenty and more knots, and at the same time comfortable and resistant to rolling when at anchor.
The first model, the Endurance 60, is the result of the joint work of Cantiere del Pardo, naval architect Davide Leone and Nauta Design, the design firm behind the interiors.
“The result has stylistic features that are very reminiscent of Pardo Yachts and has excellent characteristics both in terms of speed performance and fuel consumption,” Servidati adds.
“It is also a very comfortable boat, and for this reason too I think it is an excellent product for a sailor who wants to switch to a motorboat.”
The previously announced Endurance 72 will follow in 2024, which has already been dubbed by Davide Leone himself as “his best project”.
The GT line, launched in 2022 with the GT 52 (with deck and interiors by Nauta Design), can be considered a middle ground between the previous vessels, because the line offers a closed version of the Pardo while also providing more liveable interiors, with a comfortable dinette and three cabins, to maintain the shipyard’s family feeling.
The boat has the same hull as Zuccheri’s Pardo 50, optimised for the IPS system, which is available in three versions for this model: IPS 2×650 standard or IPS 2×700 or 2×800 (optional).
In 2020, Servidati and Planamente decided to acquire the Dutch brand VanDutch, which, shaped by the Mulder Design studio, created instantly recognisable yachts with great charm: these true symbols of a refined and timeless lifestyle “made you dream and captured everyone’s attention,” says Planamente. While respecting the original lines and stylistic features, the boats produced by CDP now feature new hulls, new moulds and optimised habitability.
The VanDutch Yachts models produced so far by Cantiere del Pardo are the VD 32, the VD40, the VD 48 and the VD56, which will be followed by a 75-foot model. From a stylistic point of view, the two smaller models have a similar, pleasantly asymmetrical deck layout, with a passage aft, on the left, which connects the wheelhouse with the platform for access to the sea.
Going up in size, symmetry becomes the norm in deck layouts (with the exception of the wheelhouse, which is always on the left), while below deck the number of berths increases and there is a tendency to offer greater privacy to guests.
The motor road Cantiere del Pardo has started down is already decorated with important awards (among them is the renewal of the partnership with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, as the team’s official supplier for the 37th America’s Cup).
These results would never have been possible without the corporate background and know-how that have their roots in the world of sailing. It is there, in the long and honoured lineage of the Grand Soleils, that Cantiere del Pardo has built its reputation and developed its production philosophy of excellence, centred on quality, craftsmanship and a bold vision of the future – the philosophy that has allowed it to sail so far.
More than 5,000 Grand Soleils have been produced in 50 years and the evolution of the range over the years has, in many cases, anticipated design solutions later adopted by the market.
These boats have been the proud bearers of these solutions, having been conceived by the most famous designers of every era: it began in 1973 with Jean-Marie Finot, right up to today’s well-established design teams, such as the Polli – Lostuzzi – Nauta Design trio. In between are iconic models that have made history, such as the great GS 34, the first to be built (1973–1983).
Designed by Jean-Marie Finot in racing and cruising versions, 290 units of these boats were made. With the characteristic circular porthole at the stern, it was a huge success and shot Cantiere del Pardo into the medium-high segment of the market.
Equally iconic are the GS 39 and 343, designed by Alain Jézéquel (also produced in many units) and the GS 52, GS 45 and GS 42, born from the collaboration with Germán Frers, which lasted from 1987 to 1989. Three years later, Cantiere del Pardo launched the GS Maxi One, designed by Bruce Farr.
In the wake of the great America’s Cup designers, Cantiere del Pardo also relied on Doug Peterson for the GS 50, while, in the second half of the 90s, three models were created, born from the collaboration with the firm of two brothers, Japec and Jernei Jakopin: the GS 37 (1996), the GS 46.3 (1997) and the GS 43 (1998).
With the new millennium, other famous yacht designers entered the stage: the first was Massimo Paperini, who designed the Grand Soleil 40, one of the shipyard’s most successful models (about 230 units produced), which marks a stylistic turning point with the almost vertical bow and the tapering strip of the deckhouse, which seems to “cut” the portholes horizontally.
This designer was followed by Philippe Briand, who designed the GS 56, and the Judel/Vrolijk studio, which was behind the GS 44 Race (Fastnet winner in 2003) and the GS 45 and GS 50 series models. When it comes to Botin & Carkeek (B&C), particularly worthy of mention are the regatta models, GS 42 (which won the IMS world championship for four consecutive years) and GS 56 (2003).
Since 2011, Cantiere del Pardo has worked only with Italian designers. After Paperini and Luca Brenta – who designed, respectively, the GS 40 in 2000 and the GS 54 in 2007 – it was the turn of Claudio Maletto, who designed the naval architecture of two boats, the GS 39 and the GS 43. Maletto’s 39′ was the first standard Grand Soleil equipped with a bulb keel, while the 43′ was the first to also have a martingale (or fixed bowsprit).
In 2013, Marco Lostuzzi presented the Grand Soleil 46 LC, whose acronym means Long Cruise, with the mainsail sheet point positioned on a carbon rollbar. Gigi Servidati was particularly keen on complementing the performance range with a range dedicated to cruising, so this yacht was a revolutionary and enormously successful project that marked the beginning of a collaboration that continues today. Lostuzzi has also designed the GS 48, jointly with Nauta Design.
The shipyard’s very important working relationships also include the ones with Umberto Felci (GS 58) and Giovanni Ceccarelli (GS 80).
The year 2020 marks the début of Matteo Polli, a very talented yacht designer who, after the highly successful GS 44 (designed with Nauta Design and winner of two ORC world championships), has worked on other projects, three of which are seafaring.
These projects are the GS 40 (which, like the 44, is the work of Polli and Nauta Design) and the GS 72, both the Performance and the recently launched Long Cruise versions, the result of the joint work of Polli (waterlines and rigging), Lostuzzi (structures) and Nauta (interiors and deck). The third is the GS 65 LC, which will be launched in the coming months. The GS 72 also benefits from the great professional experience of Franco Corazza, project manager of all Grand Soleil models over 60 feet.
Cantiere del Pardo has a long and rich history indeed, but there is still much to be written, sailing in unchartered waters, constantly striving to achieve the excellence which has been its guiding light for 50 years and will continue to be so for decades to come.
“We enter the next 50 years keeping the rudder straight, committing ourselves to ensuring that Cantiere del Pardo continues to be a point of reference for the world nautical stage, as well as a source of pride for Romagna and for the country,” Servidati comments.
“Becoming the owner of such a prestigious shipyard, and moreover an Italian one, and now having the possibility of continuing to carry out its activities personally, is a great privilege: the proverbial dream come true,” says Planamente.