Thursday, 21 December 2017 21:29

The Sleek Swan

BY ARATI THAPA

Leonardo Ferragamo talks to us about sailing, making cutting-edge boats, fuelling his passion with the regatta - The Nations Trophy organized by his yacht company Nautor Swan, is a biennial, focal event in the world of Swan One Design activity. It took place in Palma de Mallorca, Spain recently. The Ferragamo brand, historically is known for creating the wedge -heels made of cork and dressing the heels of the Hollywood royalty. It has now developed into a luxury fashion brand that is admired, respected and aspired globally, churning out millions of dollars annually. The fifth child of the legendary Salvatore Ferragamo, Leonardo worked in the company until he decided to buy Nautor Swan yacht company, turning his hobby into a roaring business and one of the most glamorous yacht to display at the marina. By the way he stills has the first SWAN yacht he owned as a teenager.

1 Tell us about the Nations Trophy, how and why did it come to existence and what efforts went into it to make it a talked about event.

The Nations Trophy is reminiscent of events popular during one of the golden ages of international yacht racing. The Admiral’s Cup, launchedby the RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) in 1957, was the catalyst for number of nation-versus-nation team events including the Sardinia Cup in Italy (first held in 1978) and the Clipper Cup (later Kenwood Cup) in Hawaii (first held in 1978). Other events include the Southern Cross Cup (Australia, 1967) and even the Onion Patch Trophy (USA, 1986). While these events have largely fallen by the wayside as trends in yacht racing have changed, the sentiment that nation-versus-nation competition should be a strong part of the sailing world has never wavered. The Nations Trophy is a small step towards reinvigorating this element of the sport.

One-design racing, defined by clear rules, is synonymous with pure sport in yachting competitions. Boats are the same and it is all about strategy, tactics, crew work, and sailing technique. It is still a very complex challenge. One-design racing is for sailors who really like competition and still enjoy sailing even when they don’t win. 28 Swan One Design yachts, ClubSwan 50 – ClubSwan 42 – Swan 45, were lined up at the start and the racing was spectacular for all the 3 classes.

2 How did you turn your passion into a business - a different one from your father's and that too such a successful one?

I always had a real passion for the sea and for sailing. My first Swan was a 51 and I will never forget the incredible emotion she gave me during navigation. Quality, seaworthiness and craftsmanship are the core values for a timeless sailing brand such as Swan. I always had a soft spot for Swan yachts and a deep admiration for Finnish craftsmanship. I became a Nautor’s Swan shareholder fully aware of the enormous responsibility towards the iconic brand – and with every intention of contributing devotedly to its growth and development. I realise that I’ve invested in a legend and take pride in having the chance to evolve the brand on an international level. In 1998 I took on the challenge and most of all the responsibility of a shipyard that I considered unique and which confirms today its standing as an iconic brand in the world of sail.

What convinced me to embark on this adventure were the unparalleled craftsmanship and the Incredible strength of the brand. But the yachts needed a strong push, an evolution towards the future, an endorsement of the basic values that have made this brand so strong. My first goal was to evolve the yachts through the introduction of new technologies, design and innovation – as long as they were proven and tested.

3 At the helm of SWAN yachts, what does it take for you to make sure that SWAN yachts are at the forefront of every yachting enthusiast’s mind? What has been your brand strategy?

Nautor’s Swan is a unique brand with strong values built-up along more than 50 years of sailing experience. Swan is a love brand and the community, our ClubSwan, is a fundamental asset in maintaining the relationship with our members. In this context, we have just presented, the new 2018 The Nations Trophy Mediterranean and US leagues, which will see our Swan One design classes, ClubSwan 50, ClubSwan 45 and Swan 42, contend with each other. Last but not least, my prime goal is always towards the evolution of our models through the introduction of new technologies, design and innovation – as long as they are proven and tested.

4 Family is big for Italians like the Indians, how do you make them stay together while giving them their independence?

I have four children and we followed them as our parents did with us: diligence, freedom, correct values and responsibility. I’m always available for them and we share opinions, sometime really different (especially with the youngest one!) and we try to stay together as much as possible.

5 Do you believe in family-run business or believe that professionals do a better job, or a mix of both is key to success?

A mix is my definite answer.

6 What new can the SWAN lovers expect in 2018 and in the coming years?

We have just introduced the new ClubSwan division and we are moving fast in developing new models, both in the small segment and in the maxi range. After the great success of The Nations Trophy, the Swan One Design is an incredible reality and the 2018 TNT Med and US leagues are expected to be extraordinary in terms of the number of events and yacht participants.

7  Does the Indian market excite you? Were there any talks of SWAN coming to India? Has there been a buyer of SWAN in India?

I personally think that India is a very special place but the sailing culture isnt at top of mind in your market. We are not pro-active in the territory but the international financial crisis seems to be over and I think that India would be an interesting new market also for sailing.

8 What do you feel India must do to have a bright yachting industry?

Sailing is first of all a sport, a way to know the power of the sea and the fair-play of competition. Sailing schools, infrastructures, sailing competitions, cruising itineraries can help to develop the culture.

9 Please give us 5 important tips to keep in mind while buying yachts and 5 tips to make sure you keep your yacht in perfect shape for the next generation.

1 The heritage of the brand is always important

2  Visit the yard and meet the employees: it’s always an amazing experience to discover how a product is built and the level of craftsmanship, quality and technology employed.

3 Talk to the designer to understand the philosophy behind the project and the level of customization

4  Understand which is the model that fit exactly your requirements (actually it is not a matter of size but of how you will use the yacht)

5  The after sales-service is a must

6  A good captain and crewhelp not only during cruising but also for the good maintenance of her during the winter season

7  Understand the second-hand market

8  Always maintain a sense of pride of ownership – the yacht will then always look her best and be ready for every adventure

9  Plan a refit schedule well in advance to keep the yacht in tip-top shape with good retained value

10 Always allow the crew enough time in the yacht’s schedule for effective preventative maintenance.

 

 

 

 

 

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