At the Cala dei Sardi Marina, we boarded Nove, the custom wood and carbon boat of Andrea Pezzi, digital entrepreneur and former TV host. Andrea welcomed us and we chatted about boats, sailing, and life with him before we went out to make two edges.
“Ero a beach boy. Then I discovered that there were reefs. But in my neck of the woods they weren’t there, and I realized I would have to go looking for them.“.
Our chat with Andrea Pezzi
Andrea Pezzi, in life as in the sailing world, started from the bottom. Today, the former MTV DJ and TV host of hit programs (“Kitchen,” “Serenades,” “Pieces of…,” 2008 to name a few) born in Ravenna 49 years ago, is one of the “gurus” of digital advertising with his company MINT and owner of Nove, a very special 63-foot (19.15 m) custom made of red cedar lamellar and carbon. But as a very young man on the beaches of Romagna, he dreamed of the Moor of Venice and of one day having his own sailboat. Mission accomplished. We intercept him aboard his boat, the sound of the wind in the background.
Andrea, what was your first contact with sailing?
I am from Romagna. I had the myth of Raul Gardini, those were the golden years of Italy in America’s Cup with the Moro, Ravenna was also at the top in volleyball thanks to him with Messaggero Volley. The first contact with sailing was as a “fan,” first of all. The sailboat, for a few years, remained only a dream. I couldn’t afford it.
But, at the threshold of 50, you made it.
True, Nine is my first sailing boat. But I got my boating license almost two decades ago, and I’ve been able to tour the Mediterranean far and wide. There has not been a summer since 2005 that I have not chartered a boat. And, in the meantime, I owned an inflatable boat. But not just any model, a ten-meter prototype in black wood, “Black Silk”-a beautiful object that I imagined and splashed on a pizza parlor napkin.
You don’t just love the finished object. You also want to imagine it and build it….
The construction side of a boat is what fascinates me the most. Think about it. The sailboat is the only vehicle that, since the dawn of time, has used no other energy to move other than that of the wind, of nature. When you build a boat, you have to keep that in mind so that it can do it as easily as possible. That’s why when we decided to create Nine, I researched in great detail, reading fundamental volumes on sailing such as Glenans’ and the formidable one on aerodynamics, which I keep in my boat, by Paolo Lodigiani, “Understanding and Designing Boats: Aero and Sailboat Hydrodynamics.” You always have to go deep and understand what you are doing, what you are doing it for. Weight distribution, loads, reinforcement…
Speaking of Nine, you said.
“we have decided.”
The boat is the result of teamwork. My friend Claudio Demartis, great sailor and inventor of the Barcolana as we know it today, thought it up together with me.
We had wanted to accomplish something together for a long time, and Nine was the opportunity. Claudio introduced me to Alessandro Vismara, who helped us with his vision and expertise in the design (the distinguishing feature is in the boat’s deckhouse) and rationalization of the hull.
The wood, a major player in the boat, was taken care of by Giorgio Ferluga of Officine Alto Adriatico in Trieste, one of the best shipwrights who also worked with Sciarrelli, one of my designers of choice.
Cesare Sangermani. If someone had said to me years ago, “Think of a boat,” I would have thought of a Sangermani. And I particularly esteem Luca Bassani with his Wallys. He is a true visionary, who had the courage to follow his convictions, changing the way boats are conceived. Today we are friends with Luke, but the first time I met him I bowed!
Back to Nine. The hull and deck are constructed of cedar wood and carbon…
Tradition and modernity. A summary of all the designers I mentioned. I am not a racer, I love beautiful boats more than performance boats. The boat must have that old-fashioned flavor of Franciscan simplicity. I who love classical culture wanted it in wood. I was not interested in fiberglass “plastics” or even full-carbon superboats for racing. For me, sailing is waking up in the morning with the smell of coffee mingling with the smell of the sea, being on deck watching the stars, the pleasure (and not the challenge) of the wind…
However, you didn’t skimp
Absolutely not. The boat, which displaces 25 tons empty, has enough carbon to build a carbon hull of the same size. For example, at the point of maximum beam (5.29 m), since the shaft is not through, we made a carbon sealing ring that is a real work of engineering! This resulted in an all in all light but safe hull. It has all the features to fulfill the functions of a sailboat. That is, sail as much as possible.
You have been sailing for many years, and now you can
draw some considerations.
What has sailing taught you?
Thank you for this question. A great lesson I learned from the concept of old-fashioned navigation based on the true north. We navigate by relying on a compass. Just as it happens in life, in my opinion. And in boating-as in life-the indication given is deflected. It’s up to you to correct mistakes and stay on course, knowing the dynamics of the environment, deviation calculations, and magnetic north. With knowledge, you come out of it. In sailing, in life.
The best experience you
have you experienced on board?
It was dawn, I was returning from Sardinia to Tuscany. There were strong winds and formed waves, challenging conditions, but I found myself, with Nine, in that situation that the ancient Greeks called “flush with the wave,” which was the way sailing ships walked with the gods. The boat seems motionless to you, suspended in a bubble. Everything around you is agitated, but you are still because you are perfectly connected with nature and its elements. A magical moment that lasted only a few minutes, but which I remember very long.
And the ugliest one?
A nightmarish straorza in the middle of the Ionian Sea. I was sleeping, the sailor who was with me decided to hoist the gennaker. There were five knots, but in a short time 25 to 30 knots arrived. Managing the situation in two was hell, we came out with a “Gordian knot” by cutting the gennaker halyard.
Andrea Pezzi’s mythical sailor?
Just one, fictional. Ulysses/Odysseus (laughs). I also really love the ethics of the old pirates. At sea there is no question, accounts are settled on land….
Exactly the opposite of what
that happens in regattas today.
Where crews fight at sea
and then ashore all friends.
True (laughs)! But at that time it was not fun. There was life involved. And anyway, that’s why I don’t like the racing world. I’m not interested in solo adventures, I’m not interested in sailing champions. Do I have to quote a legendary sailor? Here are two: Raul Gardini and Giorgio Falck. Great entrepreneurs “lent” to sailing.
Who would you like to sail with?
I have no more myths. For work, I used to do TV programs where people would tell their stories. I have known many of my own myths. Now I don’t need it anymore. So, I don’t give a f—! Better to navigate alone. Or rather, one person was there. A dear friend of mine and Claudio’s, who is now gone. To whom the name of the boat is dedicated.
Nine, with the 3 in the “e.” March 9 is his birth date, so for me he was a teacher. But not only that. Nine is my favorite number. It is the ninth month, September, is also the month in which at least a couple of people I love very much were born.
Your places of the heart
Where to drop anchor?
A foreword. I love the whole Mediterranean. It is no accident that it is the cradle of Western culture. North Africa, Spain, Greece, the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic… But the place I think of every night before I fall asleep is the islands of Lavezzi, Corsica. Where the yellow of those spikes and the stones drawn by the winds merge with a crystal water creating a unique panorama. I am also a fan of the island of Ventotene (the Roman port is a crazy testament) and Marettimo, in the Egadi Islands. Especially its uninhabited west side is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
You used to run programs by and about cooking-what do you love to cook on board?
What nature offers me. I like trolling, and when a good catch comes in, I like to fillet it, like sushi, or make a pasta with it. What you get for yourself, devoting time and effort, tastes better. Do you know the Little Prince? “It is the time you lost for your rose that made your rose so important.” Then I love clams, tellins, urchins, and anything that has a strong sea flavor. Then raw onion, tomatoes, shellfish: catalana is another weakness of mine. The whole tastes best when accompanied by a good glass of champagne, preferably Pas Dosé, made without liqueur d’expédition (the addition of any dosage liquor, normally added after disgorging and before bottling, ed.).
What characteristics should
have a good sailor?
Knowledge of the medium on which he is navigating, manual dexterity, confidentiality, silence, and the ability to always put safety before one’s need for adventure.
Andrea Pezzi’s advice
For those who go boating?
Have respect for others at sea. Don’t be cafonauts.
Is sailing good for you?
Sailing is the perfect pleasure. It is a combined mix of pleasure situations: sailing, the evening at roadstead, exploring, drinking in the silence. The sailboat is the most beautiful vehicle on which a human being can move. And take a look at the geopolitical situation in the world and you will realize that those who have power, in the world, are those who have sailed.
With your work you have often had To do with artificial intelligence (AI). In boats, will it have a future?
There are two schools of thought on AI. The first is that it will be substituted for the human one. I am on the other side, the side that believes Artificial Intelligence should be a back-up to that of humans. The same will happen in the boat, perhaps to a lesser extent. There is no algorithm that can process nature. Besides, delegating the pleasure of going to sea to an AI, what would be the point?
VIDEO – Aboard Andrea Pezzi’s boat.
Focus: Nine (19m), the boat of Andrea Pezzi
Have you ever wondered what the English expression “one-off” referring to a sailboat means? It identifies boats made in one piece, not simply custom boats, but true one-of-a-kind works made for the owner’s needs, as if they were a tailor’s suit.
We were at the Cala dei Sardi’s Ecoporto Marina to find out firsthand what a one-off is, aboard Nove, Andrea Pezzi’s 63-foot (19.15 x 5.29 m) wood and carbon one-off project (V 63 XR) made in collaboration with Vismara, OYA Yacht Design, with key contributions from Claudio Demartis and built by Officine Alto Adriatico. A very Italian boat, from the idea to the professionals who worked on it, to the construction. The former DJ and TV host, now a digital advertising “guru,” decided to make the dream boat tailored to his needs and sailing dreams. A boat that was very much “home,” that would excite him, and bring him back to the atmosphere and smells of the boats his first sailing trips.
When the boat is a one-off, the owner becomes an active part of the project, and the shipyard tries to make what is initially just a dream or a pencil sketch on a blank sheet of paper a reality.
Such was the case with Nove, where the owner literally designed his idea of a boat, with the request that it be a modern yet old-fashioned boat that “smelled like wood.” For this reason, the One Off Nine is a boat built of wood and reinforced with carbon. An uncommon pairing, but one that encapsulates the boat’s philosophy, modern yet ancient, a cozy outlier from long sailing. Wanting to make comparisons with the automotive world, we could define it as a classy SUV.
The soul of the boat by Andrea Pezzi
The special feeling of entering inside a one-off was the impression of entering the owner’s “home.” When we go aboard a mass-produced boat, as beautiful as there are on the market, everything seems a little more anonymous. On Nine we had the opposite feeling.
And it is not just the choice of materials, with warm wood making the atmosphere inside Nine resemble that of an ancient ship, but something more. A feeling of welcome, of refuge, because after all, what are boats if not the happy refuge of those who first dream of them and then see them realized and sail on them, perhaps, why not, around the world.
The hull was made of red cedar planking on a scalo with wooden heads. The deck is made of mahogany plywood. The structures are solid Douglas fir and the keel structures are Iroko wood. The areas where loads are concentrated such as the heaths, the mast beam the bottom of the hull, and the area of the spinnakers are reinforced with carbon to give rigidity to the structure but with reinforcements that do not make the boat too heavy.
The L-keel draft is 2.80 meters, designed primarily to ensure passage in virtually all Mediterranean ports or shallower bays. The sail plan is quite classic, with a mainsail with no square top but slightly luffed, and a self-tacking jib. Code Zero type sails and gennakers can be rigged on the bow definiera. Nine is a marine boat, as we were able to verify during our day spent on board, but a rather nimble hull has been designed nonetheless, allowing those on board to enjoy sailing as soon as the breeze picks up. And Nine is capable of giving, as we will tell you shortly, good speeds, which even when cruising do not hurt.
We first observed Nine from the dinghy, during this photo shoot conducted in Cala dei Sardi, Olbia, then boarded to sail with her. The first thing that jumps out at you, looking at it from the outside, is how in just a few minutes two crew members went from the boat at the mooring to having sails hoisted and sailing. In fact, with two people, thanks to the electric controls of the rigging and the deflection of the rigging in the wheelhouse area, with the halyards instead being at the mast to keep the central area of the boat “clean,” one can easily steer this 63-foot One Off. Conditions for other things were of a brisk breeze, which started around 12 knots and gusted up to as high as 16-18 knots.
Nine is a boat that appears docile, heeling gradually even under gusts, a condition in which it remains in control even if the mainsail is not immediately let go.
What about the speeds? Under these conditions we can assure you that this boat will not struggle to grind out miles. From the broad windward to the beam we are indeed sailing over 10 knots, upwind around 9, not bad for a boat intended for super-comfortable cruising anyway.
Deckhouse and exterior
One of the special features of Nove is certainly the deckhouse. The shape is round and the height on the deck quite significant. Toward the stern it has a small extension that serves to increase shade in the cockpit area where dining or dedicated to social. Speaking of the cockpit, there are two distinct areas here. The first is at the stern, on the same level as the bridge, and is where the two wheelhouses are located and some of the rigging linkages on the winches located at the stern. The second area is what we might call the cockpit proper, slightly lowered from the deck level, protected by the wide deckhouse and guardrails, communicating with the interior through a glass door.
Maneuvers from Easy Sailing
The maneuvers of this One Off were designed on the owner’s requests. Andrea Pezzi wanted an easy boat with essential maneuvers that could be steered by himself or two people. There is no carriage for the mainsail, which is deferred with a hoist system on the deckhouse, and the jib is self-tacking. A boat that needs at most a skipper or deckhand, for those who decide to have help while sailing, but nothing more.
The maneuvers were arranged in a rather rational manner. The goal was to leave the cockpit dining area “clean,” so all maneuvers had to be deferred to the bow or stern of the cockpit. The halyard winches have been placed in the mast area, but are operable from the wheelhouse. On the stern winches, the mainsail, upwind, and the jib, downwind, are worked alternately. With only 4 winches, a 63-foot boat is steered with good efficiency, even in the stiff breeze of the Emerald Coast.
The first special feature of the interior Is that the dinette is on the same plane as the outside cockpit. There are no steps, and a sliding glass door makes the two rooms communicating. The dinette is elevated to enjoy the view of the deckhouse, which, considering the glass window facing aft, is practically 360 degrees. Going towards the bow, down three steps, you reach the sleeping area, where wood reigns, consisting of two twin guest cabins and the master cabin, with separate beds. All cabins are equipped with private bathrooms.