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Baglietto: 160 years of Italian nautical history. The onset of the glorious history of the shipyard

15 December 2014

Baglietto shipyard boasts a long history which began in 1854 in Varazze where Pietro Baglietto started his activity building small fishing boats and dinghies in the back-yard of his house. After a few years he switched his activity towards the nautical leisure sector, building in 1888 a pleasure vessel for Pope Leone XIII.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Pietro Baglietto launched his first motor boats and in 1906 he achieved one of his most outstanding record: the launch of ‘Giuseppina’, the biggest cruising motor-yacht, whose length reached 22,6 meters – with a combustion engine ever built before in Italy. During the same period, another record was achieved: the construction of the very first prototype of an hydrofoil ever built in the world. When Pietro passed away, the sons Bernardo and Giovanni Battista began to co-operate with the Italian Government for the production of airships and flyingboats for the Italian Aeronautical Ministry.

At the onset of First World War, Baglietto conceived and produced the most advanced project for a torpedo unit for the Italian Navy. MAS –motorboats anti-submarines – inaugurated a new generation of military vessels which were outstanding in terms of solidity, manoeuvrability and sea-keeping. These boats soon achieved all records for their class, overcoming in 1936 the speed of 50 knots. In 1938 MAS sport version achieved the world speed record in the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th categories: this success achieved in between the two world conflicts made the shipyard famous all over the world. Baglietto started receiving building orders for the construction of vessels for Vittorio Emanuele III, King of Italy (a 15-meter ME91 built in 1938) and for the poet and writer Gabriele d’Annunzio (in 1932, he became the owner of a 12-meter Baglietto motor-yacht named ‘Alcyone’), the latter being inspired by MAS created the motto “memento audere semper”.

The long co-operation with the Royal Navy first, then with the Italian Navy and in the end with Italian Finance Authority and Port Authorities demanding complicated technical specifications allowed Baglietto yard to gather an extraordinary competence, technology and culture which the shipyard decided to also exploit in the building of leisure motor-yachts.

At the end of the Second World War, in fact, the yard was ready to conceive and build upon a large scale new vessels, owing to the widening of the production area. Between 1958 and 1962, the Seagull Brand launched a series of wooden vessels inspired by the Mediterranean islands: Elba (11,5 meters), Ischia (16 meters), Capri (14 meters), Minorca (20 meters) and Maiorca (22 meters) whose hull derived from the legendary MAS boats. The plywood which started to substitute the wooden planking with monolithic wide planking sections were easy to be cut, light and at the same time sturdy, and allowed to apply new construction techniques in particular as far as the interior areas were concerned. The co-operation with the designer Paolo Caliari who gave a new interpretation to this material started in these years; he introduced a sharp-cornered style which allowed to obtain new spaces and volumes thus creating wider exterior surfaces as well as ensured a better liveability in the interior areas.

The motor-boat ‘Ischia’ became extremely popular proving to have excellent performances and perfect proportions: in the sixties and in the seventies at least one ‘Ischia’ was moored in all major Italian and French marinas à la page. The production became extraordinary: 84 units in 9 years. Starting from 1959 on to 1967, three different versions were produced one after the other: ‘Ischia’, ‘Ischia Super’ and ‘Ischia 16-meter’.

M series represented an ensemble of great novelties in design and performance which were due to leave a remarkable heritage in the nautical sector: the Flying Bridge was conceived: this new space allowed in fact to exploit at the most the boat space on top: this clearly represented the most significant structural novelty in those years.

In 1962 Baglietto style conquered the interest and passion of another famous ship-owner Mr. Giovanni Agnelli for whom Baglietto shipyard built a GA 30 27.5-meter motor-yacht designed by Paolo Caliari, whose hull derived from the British military repertoire of Vosper yard.

In the fifties and in the sixties, Baglietto yard started once again to participate to competitions, launching a 5.5-meter S.I., thus achieving the following records: ‘Twins VI’ won “Italy Cup” in Helsinki (in 1953) and in Genoa (in 1954), ‘Twins II’ achieved the “Golden Cup” as the very first Italian record in Sweden at Sandhamm in 1955 and the following year the “French Cup” in Geneva. This competition series was completed by ‘Voloira III’ designed by Roy Hunt in 1964.

At the end of the seventies, Baglietto family decided to retire; in 1978 Vittorio Baglietto, “the founder of Italian Yachting”, passed away, as the authoritative London newspaper Time wrote about him.

The eighties represented the era of aluminium: Rodriguez family, leader in the production of hydrofoils and new owner of the yard since 1983, being familiar with this material brought Baglietto yard to accept this new challenge owing to the consolidated construction experience achieved by the yard in military, naval and aeronautical boat construction. The use of various kinds of aluminium allowed to go back to soft and round-shaped lines which started to characterise the overall Baglietto production in those years and in the years to come.

It is worth pointing out the introduction of new and innovative technological solutions among which the hydrofoil propulsion which allowed to reach extraordinary performance. Being the pioneer in the construction of aluminium vessels, in the eighties Baglietto yard set a brand new beginning in the naval sector starting to build super-yachts. The very first super-yacht was the 44.82-meter long ‘Al Fahedi’, designed by Mr. Giovanni Zuccon, the Roman architect, for Dubai Emirate with the hull designed by Mr Andrea Sculati, the engineering whose hulls are still the base of numerous projects up to today, followed by a 35-meter motor-yacht ‘Adler’ which is considered the very first Italian super-yacht, designed in 1987 by Alberto Mercati based on a hydrofoil propulsion thus able to reach a speed of 36 knots. However, the master piece of that time is by no doubt ‘Chato’ the last motor-yacht for Baron John van Neumann, a fanciful American ship-owner who wanted to have the fastest motor-yacht in the Mediterranean sea. Baglietto yard built this yacht in 1988: a 26-meter yacht displacing 60 tons powered by two MTU engines 2.610 Hp; yet, Baron Van Neumann was not completely satisfied: the yard therefore added two hydrofoils KaMeWa to the two very powerful MTU 3.480 Hp engines, thus almost reaching 7.000 Hp on a 26-meter long aluminum yacht featuring two cabins only. During sea-trials the yacht reached 62,5 knots.

The nineties were a period of in-depth style researches for Baglietto yard under the leadership of Mr. Giampiero Moretti whom acquired the yard in 1983. Models such as ‘Maffy Blue’ and ‘Alba’ signed by Mr. Cichero, architect, respectively launched in 1991 and in 1993 represented the beginning of the conceptual idea of a “series” and set new standards for the planing hull yacht product line owing to the innovative exterior lines as well as to the luxury of the interiors. During these years the co-operation with Mr. Francesco Paszkowski, the Florentine designer, made its debut, representing a remarkable novelty for the yard in Varazze with the building of ‘Opus’ in 1994, the very first 29-meter Open that reached 40 knots in speed built by the yard.

In 1999 with the acquisition of the Ferrari shipyard in La Spezia, the production capacity of the yard was enhanced once again, thus allowing the construction of models that have become the truest reference models for the nautical sector. After the brilliant début of ‘Opus’, Francesco Paszkowski has become the truest protagonist of this positive season moving onto the third millennium under Orsi’s leadership, a Milan Family, new owner of the yard during eight uninterrupted years.

In 2000, Paszkowski designer signed ‘Charly Boy’, the 30-meter yacht which represented the turning point for the yard, outlining the new direction in the short-term: in 2001 ‘Thunderball’ is presented, the first series of 34-meter “fast product range” motor-yachts”.

In 2004 Tommaso Spadolini designed two quite unusual units: one of the two is ‘RC’, a 41-meter motor-yacht whose owner is Roberto Cavalli, the fashion designer and ‘Nina J’ the motor-yacht extended up to 42 meters, winner of the prize “Compasso d’Oro” in 2005. During this year, Baglietto yard changed ownership, being acquired by Camuzzi Group. Francesco Paszkowski’s unmistakable style lead the yard, thus realising three different kinds of planning hulls, a 34-meter such as ‘B17’, ‘Bolaro’ and ‘Apache II’, an open such as ‘Pure Insanity’, another 34-meter, a displacement hull such as ‘ Annamia’ and ‘Ancora’, a 43-meter, ‘Gitana’ and ‘Baraka’ both 53-meter in length and the unusual ‘Natori’ a 42-meter with Bannenberg & Rowell Design interiors, inspired by the upraising Explorer product line.

On the basis of this long-lasting success, the co-operation between Baglietto yard and Francesco Paszkowski has become insofar an inseparable combination looking ahead on to contemporaneity and on to new projects aiming to revitalise once again the Seagull Brand, proudly owned by Gavio Group since 2012.

Baglietto: 160 years of Italian nautical history.

Baglietto: 160 years of Italian nautical history.
Baglietto: 160 years of Italian nautical history.
Baglietto: 160 years of Italian nautical history.
Baglietto: 160 years of Italian nautical history.