Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Last time I blogged it was to tell you about some factory tours I was doing in Italy, specifically Sessa. Shortly thereafter I moved on to Azimut, which turned out to be not so much a factory tour as a sojourn. For Azimut is both huge and about much more than building boats.

I began my tour in Aviglana, where Azimut manufactures boats to from 39 to 70 feet. This is a relatively new plant; the oldest parts are about six years old and one building was completed last year. Another is scheduled to begin construction later this year, Not surprising given its age, the facility is very modern, clean, well-lit, and virtually devoid of styrene odor. It was running at pretty much full capacity when I was there. From there I drove to Varazze, on the coast where the company has a big stake in a new marina project, complete with 800 slips (400 for sail on one side and 400 for power on the other), parking for 900 vehicles, water view apartments for sale, and a variety of shops. Although much of the shops and apartments are still unoccupied, it's nevertheless impressive. To my knowledge, no other boat builder is engaged in such a project.

From here we drove south to Viareggio, when Azimut builds Azimut motoryachts from 75 to 116 feet, the larger one in the recently purchased Lusben Shipyard, and in a separate facility next door, its line of Benetti composite yachts. The ex-Lusben works is also home to Europe's largest TraveLift, a 600-ton monster. My last leg was about an hour south in Livorno, where Benetti builds its full-custom, steel-hull yachts. There's yet another facility on Italy's east coast where the company laminates the hulls and deck for its composite Benettis, which are then brought to Viareggio for fitting out. Obviously Azimut is huge—there's really nothing in America—or for that matter in the world—that matches the number, size, and modernity of its boatbuilding facilities. I was bowled over.

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