#plasticfantastic – The story of the Alpa shipyard, a pioneer in fiberglass

shipyard alpa plastifcDanilo Cattadori founded the Alpa shipyard in 1956. It was through his resourcefulness that Europe first experienced the application of fiberglass in the nautical field. A true revolution.His first creation was a Flying Duchtman built of fiberglass, a dinghy that initiated and still initiates many people into sailing. Many other legendary boats came out of the Shipyard including the Alpa 6.70 Dodi, the Alpa 9.50, the Alpa 11.50 and the Alpa 12.70.
2Cattadori was able to work with the best designers of the time. From Van De Stadt to Olin Stephens to John Illingworth. Names that in the international sailing scene certainly need no introduction. What is striking about Cattadori’s story, however, are the numbers: 22,000 boats produced, a shipyard capable of completing a tank-tested boat every three days on the line of theAlpa 9.50 and the Alpa 11.50 and the construction in 1963 of Europe’s largest sailboat (“only” 15 meters long).
3The contribution of Cattadori and the Alpa shipyard to boating is akin to Henry Ford’s contribution to motoring. Italy was experiencing a period of economic boom, and recreational boating was becoming increasingly popular. The concept of going to sea for pleasure and delight was new along our shores. The boats produced by Alpa Shipyard responded to precisely this new need. A simple and solid product. Robust and durable. Alpa Shipyard’s boats were (are, ed.) built to sail and to safely entertain the owner and his crew.7However, the story of Cattadori and the Alpa shipyard ended in the worst way. The crisis that hit the nautical market and some disagreements between Cattadori and the workers led him to abandon the shipyard, which closed its doors for good a few years later. By the time the Alpa shipyard closed it had been owned for a few years by Eng. Soldini, Giovanni’s dad. However, they remain present in all the boats that still ply the seas around the world what were the “trademarks” of the Alpa shipyard: high quality construction, attention to materials and love of the sea. Cattadori and Alpa’s represents an all-Italian story.

Nicholas Hill


20150524_193017The 1973 Genoa Boat Show (1)



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