How to stay 40 years on the crest of the wave

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Andrea Napolitani of Cini & Webster, Hanse importer as well as Solaris agent, talks about how his venture began in 1980 and how he has successfully adapted to a changing market (and now, make way for the young!).

It was a passion for boating that convinced Andrea Napolitani, among the creators in 1975 of the legendary synthetic-tipped Tratto Pen, to change business and start selling boats.

Today, with his wife Lalla, daughter Chiara, and a close-knit team of qualified young people, he carries on Cini & Webster, importer for northern Italy of Hanse and subdealer for Liguria of Dehler (in its historic Lavagna location) agent Solaris (with offices in Lavagna and Varazze) and which has a large fleet of used boats for sale and purchase.

Andrea, when and how did your adventure begin? “Galeotto was a Grand Soleil 34 that we bought from Del Pardo Shipyard in 1979: I became friends with Giuseppe Giuliani and we began to collaborate; some time later I became the shipyard’s sales manager.In 1986 I asked Del Pardo to work from Lavagna and we opened our own office. The collaboration lasted until 2001.” Year you decided to “look in Germany”… “From 2001 until 2010 we were actually Bavaria subdealers, in those years very good boats for reliability, value for money, ergonomics.”

In 2010, at the Düsseldorf Salon, what you call “the turning point.” “When our daughter Chiara made it clear that she would follow in her parents’ footsteps, we set out to find a strong brand that could provide continuity for Cini & Webster.

In Düsseldorf, Slovenian Luka Modrijan, who was working at Hanse at the time, introduced us to Michael Schmidt, and it was love at first sight: his boats were innovative and, above all, marked by easy sailing.

The German shipyard was the first to install the self-tacking jib and to arrange the winches so that it was really possible to maneuver quietly from the cockpit. Clare decided to ‘cut her teeth’ by going to live in Greifswald (Hanse’s headquarters, ed.) to be in close contact with the shipyard. You can’t sell boats you don’t know.” Today the partnership continues…. “In addition to all the boats in the Hanse range (the most successful one, in terms of sales, is the Hanse 588, direct heir to the 575) we are subdealers for Dehler’s Liguria.

Boats for a different clientele that seeks performance even before total comfort. Let’s not forget that with the 1980 DB1, Dehler actually invented the performance-cruiser concept.” Why Solaris instead? “We worked for a long time with Giuseppe Giuliani. When he acquired Solaris in 2011, it was natural for us to come back and collaborate.

The brand is going very strong, considering that it is for a high-end clientele. Especially on the larger square footage (over 60 feet), where it not only ensures the build quality that is typical of the Friuli shipyard, but also manages to be cost competitive.” We have talked about monohulls, but one of the current trends is catamarans.

Is Cini & Webster “in the piece”? “We have partnered with Luca Venica of Euro Sail Yacht, dealer for northern Italy for Fountaine Pajot, sailing and motor catamarans from 40 feet and up that are well designed and suitable for all kinds of sailing.” If you had to sum up, in one word, the secret of Cini & Webster’s longevity? “Reliability. Many of our customers trust us and have followed us over time: someone started by buying a Grand Soleil, then moved on to Bavaria and Hanse, and there are those who even switched to Solaris. So many certificates of appreciation!” www.ciniwebster.it

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