Ziggurat 916: exceptional half-tonner, son of Vallicelli’s genius


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Ziggurat 916
Ziggurat 916 – Advertising Image; CPR, circa 1976.

Accomplice to the International Offshore Rule (IOR Racing Rule), the 1970s and 1980s saw the birth of several excellent designs, fast and marine boats, ideal for both racing and cruising. From the large Maxi to the smallest hulls, the market was populated with high-performance and competitive designs, excellent engines for vibrant industry growth. Among them, more quietly than the big and emblazoned ones, a whole class of ‘small’ boats grew sailors and designers, irreplaceable gavetta for climbing to the top: the half-tonner. And, right among them, we find a small Italian 9-meter, performance hull, fast, as well as the first project of one of the best pencils of our nautical architecture: the Ziggurat 916, designed by Andrea Vallicelli.

Ziggurat 916

Built by the C.P.R. shipyards in Fiumicino, Italy, from 1976 until 1989, the Ziggurat 916 was a competitive half-tonner, the first among Vallicelli’s designs – destined, later, to build iconic boats such as Brava (1980) and Azzurra (1983). At 9.16 meters long overall, 7.90 at the waterline and just 3.10 wide at maximum beam, the Ziggurat 916 remains to this day a fast boat for its class, proving to be very buoyant and maneuverable in all conditions. Armed with a masthead sloop and equipped with a large sail area, the 916 has a particularly light displacement (3.1 t x 1.55 ballast) for the gain of easy initial speed, even in light to medium winds.

Ziggurat 916
Ziggurat 916 – Thethuthinnea; 1993
[immagine di proprietà dell’autore]

Ziggurat 916 – Design and Construction

The first among the works of a young Vallicelli, the Ziggurat 916 was built for more than a decade at the C.P.R. shipyard in Fiumicino, among the pioneers in fiberglass processing in Italy. In terms of design, the hull of the 916 has particularly streamlined water lines, a not excessively deep bulb, and a decidedly successful ratio of live-work to sail plan, all of which earns good performance even in thin winds. Made of reinforced fiberglass (isothalic polyester resin and fiberglass), the hull has thicknesses ranging from 10 to 20 millimeters, ensured-in terms of structural rigidity-by transverse and longitudinal fiberglass box section. The deck and cockpit, on the other hand, are made of sandwich (balsa and fiberglass), reinforced at the points of greatest stress by fiberglass boxes as, indeed, for the hull.

Ziggurat 916 – Thethuthinnea; 1993
[immagine di proprietà dell’autore]
The bulb, ballasted in cast iron for about 1,550 tons (or in lead, as in the case of some models), is generously bolted to the keel at the spinnakers, made of stainless steel. The rudder, on the other hand, which has no skeg and a stainless steel shaft, consists of a closed-cell polyurethane foam core sealed in a fiberglass shell. Finally, peculiar by today’s standards, the Ziggurat 916 was not exclusively produced ‘ready-to-wear,’ but was also made available in two different kits: one that provided only the hull and, the other, seaworthy but without the interior. An interesting note back in the day, as nowadays, because if originally the range of accessibility was expanded in terms of even affordability, it is now implied that there are also boats that are quite different from each other in terms of interior, set-up and, probably, quality.

Ziggurat 916 – Ziggurat [Immagine d’Archivio]

Ziggurat 916 – Armament and Sail Plans

Distinguished in Regatta and later cruising versions, the Ziggurat 916 is a masthead-rigged sloop. As standard, it saw supplied an anodized aluminum tapered mast, complete with two tiers of airfoil spreaders, low, intermediate, and high shrouds, flying shrouds, and forestay. The halyards, all through halyards, were carried in the cockpit, as were all the other rigging, a guarantee of a particularly clear deck and a cockpit from which to virtually handle everything safely. Indeed, the deck equipment was well positioned, thus facilitating maneuvering and providing both order and operational ergonomics. In fact, the standard version included two winches for the sheets and two for the halyards, the latter deferred along the deck and throttled through dedicated stoppers. There are not a few, however, models to which two winches for the spinnaker and two more for the halyards have been added. Solution not envisioned in the original plans, but which several shipowners decided to opt for.

Ziggurat 916
Ziggurat 916 – Thethuthinnea; 1993
[immagine di proprietà dell’autore]
In terms of sail area, Ziggurat 916 had original sail plans that were well sized, efficient from the first breezes and well manageable even in the most demanding conditions and with a small crew. Barring any changes at the discretion of the owners, the original planning called for a sail area of 50 square meters for windward gaits, divided into the 16.20 square meters of the mainsail and 34.00 of the Genoa 1. Moving into the carrying gaits and, especially, into the slack and sterns, an additional 77.30 sq. m. of spinnaker was added to the 16.20 sq. m. of mainsail, bringing the total square footage well over 90 sq. m. A blooper could, moreover, improve performance, including by increasing stability in the stern gait by making up, in part, for the reduced buoyancy reserve due to its conformation. Additionally, in addition to a reduced Genoa of 30 square meters, a 13-square-meter jib and a turmentine of just 6.7 square meters were planned.

Example of Blooper in use on the Guia III (left) and Mandrake (right). Excerpt from the Journal of Sailing, 07-1975

On some hulls, by shipowners, there are additional rails placed on the deckhouse, forward of the mast. This addition allowed for the rigging of an Olympic jib, with the sheets passing inside the shrouds. A choice of rigging that further increased the boat’s boliniere performance, making it powerful and exciting even in strong winds.

Original Sail Plans Ziggurat 916
Mainsail 16.20 square meters
Genoa 1 34.00 square meters
Genoa 2 30.00 square meters
Flake 13.00 square meters
Tormentin 06.70 square meters
Spinnaker 77.30 square meters

Ziggurat 916 – Interior

Contextualizing with the standards of the time, the 916’s standard interior proves to be restrained but cozy, improving over the years in both compartmentalization and quality-although from its earliest days it was well thought out in both construction details and technical solutions, starting with the retractable deckhouse, a guarantor of interior roominess worthy of larger boats. In terms of layout this is a standard compartmentalization, with a kitchen, charting, separate toilet and a total of seven bunks.

Ziggurat 916
Ziggurat 916 – Original Table Tops

As soon as the drum is passed, Ziggurat 916 welcomes with two distinct spaces: full galley, to port, and charting to starboard, the latter just ahead of the guard berth, carved out under the cockpit. Just beyond we find the saloon, complete with four bunks, removable table and through-mast. The structure here is aimed at optimizing space, with two lower first berths that can also be used as sofas, while two other raised, broadside berths are also ideal as storage areas. Separated by a bulkhead, proceeding toward the bow, is a full-beam lavatory, itself distinguished from the forward berth by a fiberglass collision bulkhead. Instead, two options are made available here: normal plywood bunks or, under specification, canvas and tubular bunks.

Zigurat 916 – Kitchen and berths of the square in an archive image

In the case of versions specifically designed for racing, the layout varies, moving the square back aft, just ahead of the tambour. Here the upper berths appear to be partially collapsible, while, just aft of the mast, the galley and chartroom appear. Arrangements also change in the bow, where space is mainly allocated to the sail lowering function. Finally, regardless of the variant, all structural bulkheads are made of marine plywood and welded to the hull with fiberglass, actively contributing to the strength of the whole while, the engine compartment is accessible both from inside and from the cockpit, through an opening cut in the main locker.

Ziggurat 916 – Thethuthinnea; 1993
[immagine di proprietà dell’autore]

Ziggurat 916 – Market and Considerations

Overall regarded by most as a fun, pliant, and excellent hull, the Ziggurat 916 is undoubtedly a boat that has left its mark and, to this day, continues to sail happily, thanks in part to the recent revival of the Half Ton Class. Ideal as a first boat, it lends itself well to both small cruising and racing, of course, however, reference standards are to be kept in mind, which are profoundly different from those contemporary to us.As for the second-hand market, ads related to the Ziggurat 916 are not infrequently found.

In terms of price, the average figures are between 10,000 and 13,000 euros, although there are hulls for sale as low as 18,000 euros. Certainly, after so many years have passed, the price will be dictated not only by the condition of the hull itself, but also by the equipment installed on board, or refits completed. Indicatively then, the figures range from prices under 10 thousand euros to almost double that amount, but it is important, first and foremost, to understand the motivations behind these numbers, not forgetting in one’s considerations, the presence or absence of equipment, refits and miscellaneous.

Always on the wave of articles related to boats of the past, be they great classics, timeless
or just little gems lost in memory, don’t miss previous articles, as well as those to come. When in doubt, here is the link to the previous
Dufour 35
and Nautor Swan 65, designed by Michel Dufour in 1971 and Sparkman & Stephens in 1969, respectively.

Technical Specs

Ziggurat 916 Andrea Vallicelli – 1976
Length Over All (LOA) 9.16 m
Length at Waterline (LWL) 7.90 m
Baglio Massimo 3.10 m
Displacement 3.10 t
Zavorra 1.550 t
Fishing 1.7 m
Construction Material Reinforced fiberglass (GRP)
Original Motorization Renault 12 / 16 HP
Weapon Armed sloop in masthead
Sail Area 50 sqm
Bunks 7
Construction site C.P.R. (Rome, Fiumicino)

Article also compiled through the author’s direct experiences (Ziggurat 916; 1978).

Edited by Doi De Luise



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