“What should never be missing on a boat? The boat!” exclaims Franco Corazza during our meeting at Italia Yachts’ new shipyard in San Giorgio di Nogaro. The founder of the Italian shipyard leaves me bewildered, but he explains himself with a smile. “Today there are few real sailboats. There are many boats ‘with sail,’ which is different. You have to go out in twenty knots and have fun: if you are apprehensive you bought a boat with sail. If you have fun then you have bought a real sailboat. The boat is a recycler, when the wind comes it must not lose it. If you analyze the boats that are on the market, they have colossal energy losses; ours do not.”
Speaking of your boats, in just a few years you have created a real range, now the new boatyard. What about tomorrow?
We are making the biggest effort this year with the shipyard, but next year we will present something new, without taking away the old models. We have had the good fortune or judgment not to get caught up in the “fad,” so we have the self-aligning bushings, the John Mast, and so many other things that make our market a sailor’s market, a shipowner’s market. The buyer who used to lease the sailboat to take the fifteen-day vacation is not approaching our product.
What should inspire a boat?
On-board ergonomics and practicality. When I think of my boats I think of boats that are consistent and concrete. You find consistency in water lines and ergonomics; all over the world you also go upwind. That’s why instead of designing a “fashion” boat because it’s fashionable to edge and then suffer 50 percent of the cruise because the wave passage is not optimal, I prefer to make boats that work upwind. If on the slack instead of going 25 knots when there are 30 knots I will go 22, patience. The rest of the time I get comfort in navigation.
You mentioned the “fashion” boats. Domestic production seems to be conquering the U.S. market.
This is a crisis of ideas of American shipyards, because if you analyze their market, the models have remained somewhat dated, except for J/Boats. We Italians are prolific, even too much so I must say, because I consider the boat to be ‘the family boat,’ so the model cannot change every four years, also as a matter of second-hand marketing. In the Golden Age for example, X-Yachts’ 412 was on the market for fourteen years. This is still the case in northern Europe, while our market is drugged by the need to always come up with something new.
Let’s talk about sail plan: goodbye to symmetrical headsails, we have asymmetrical for almost every gait. How do you see it?
By virtue of necessity. The fact that you don’t have to maneuver the spinnaker leads you to have an asymmetric that doesn’t perform as well, but is great in cruising. On the other hand, I don’t see any need for all those Code Zeroes, which, apart from the Gulf of Nesci, are of little use around the world, because you only use the boat under six knots for cruising and as soon as there are eight you take it down. The gennaker, on the other hand, I find very fair. Even the rigid wing (which works well) has an economic problem: it will be functional when it has an affordable price.
Pods and maneuver aids were born… What do you think?
If they work welcome, as is anything that makes life easier for less experienced cruise passengers. However, it is useless to make boats with two rudder blades sixty centimeters deep and then put the bow thruster: at one and a half knots with two rudders like that you don’t maneuver!
More tools, more consumption. Alternative energy as a solution?
Welcome them, but they must be humane in cost and above all work. I would be happy if the hybrid or solar panels (minus the hydrogenerator because
when you sail it breaks the boxes), really enter the market, because it means you can really use an electric motor tomorrow; today it is impossible because the cost-performance ratio is not worth the gamble. Why would a shipowner choose an electric motor, with which he has less range and costs him 15 thousand euros more?
What will change in boats in the coming years?
There is work to be done on rigging, applying high technology at low cost. The underlying problem is always the economic one. Let’s take an example, you mean the carbon mast as the cool 100-thousand-euro one; I think there may be a system to reduce, thanks perhaps to different sections, its cost, as well as that of the rigging, so as to lower the center of gravity and save kilos on the keel: less structure means less displacement, and everything benefits. This is the evolution I hope for.