1. What brought you into the world of yachting?
My introduction to the world of sailing came when I was just six years old. As a gift for passing my first year in school my father gave me a beautiful Riva with my name on it, and that was the moment I fell in love with boats. When I turned seven I was then given a dinghy, which is when I began to sail. Across the years I’ve competed in 150 regattas and have sailed the smallest boats to the America’s Cup boats. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled and lived in beautiful places around the world. Sailing, and being close to the ocean is in my blood.
2. You’ve had an illustrious career so far, from managing luxury resorts, the investment sector and competitive sailing. What inspired you to join the YPI team?
My entire career has been driven by my love of sailing and need to be close to the ocean. After graduating from university I had a role at a prestigious law firm in Rome, but after six months realised it wasn’t for me. Deciding to be near the ocean meant I pursued fulfilling roles that enabled me to indulge my passion for sailing; from managing luxury resorts in Antigua to directing marketing for a major cruise ship line. Along that journey, I met Peter Thompson and worked closely with him at TWW Yachts from 2014. When he joined YPI as Yacht Sales Managing Partner we spoke about the new ambition and vision for the business, and I joined the team in 2020. YPI has a strong brand, great fleet and fantastic clients so it was a great opportunity.
3. What advice would you give the next generation who are looking to start their careers within the superyacht industry?
My advice would be to get as much experience as you can with boats. For people who sail, it is a true passion; the boat itself becomes part of your family with its own personality. Over my decades of sailing I’ve experienced every aspect of managing that boat, from navigation and steering to maintenance and therefore clients trust my recommendation and advice. If they have a question, I can answer it. So my advice to the next generation would be to fully immerse yourself in the industry; go sailing, go racing, work as a deckhand, take advantage of every opportunity as it will build your experience and show your passion. It is very difficult to be truly successful in this industry without having that genuine interest and drive.
4. What are your expectations in terms of sales for 2021, do you see the market improving?
There is a sense that 2021 could continue to be a challenging year. On the positive side there is interest within the market with requests to buy boats, ongoing negotiations and interesting conversations happening with our clients. The biggest issue we are all facing remains the travel restrictions and quarantine being imposed between countries. Clients naturally want to visit the boat before deciding to purchase and so the ongoing pandemic is impacting how the decision-making process would traditionally happen. However, I remain optimistic that we will continue to see strong interest from clients.
5. You have competed in high profile regattas, including the Dragon World Championship in Germany, three Sardinia Cups and three Maxi Yacht Rolex Cups to name a few! How have these experiences benefitted your career?
In total I’ve participated in over 150 regattas since 1975, sometimes as many as 11 in one year! By competing all over the world you get to meet and build relationships with brilliant people; from fellow sailors to CEOs; it’s the same group that still regularly meet up today. Those strong relationships, built over 35 years, have been fundamental to my career success. For clients, they want to know that you have relationships with the people who can influence and help their own ambitions, whether it’s making your first purchase to designing your own boat. They are reassured that you know the product by the quality of your expertise and the deep knowledge you bring. And on the other side, the people who I’ve raced with over the years are now CEOs of the most influential businesses within this industry, which is good for negotiations with clients.
6. Can you share with us your favourite yachting memory?
One that truly stands out was when I was living in Palm Beach in Florida. Luca Bassani, founder of Wally, was in Fort Lauderdale and asked me to race with him at the Showboats International Regatta on the Wallygator. When I arrived some of the greats from the America’s Cup were there, including Tom Whidden and Mike Toppa. It was a very proud moment for me to part of that sailing team.
The second memory is a charity event we held with the Young America, America’s Cup sailboat, while living in the US. Each week Young America invited people with disabilities to Newport Rhode Island, where we would take them out sailing. One weekend we were privileged to take out Christopher Reeve. The wind was so strong we almost couldn’t sail, but we managed to get out and seeing his smile was one of the best moments of my life.
7. If you could choose one destination, where would you go?
The British Virgin Islands has among the best sailing conditions. It has 18 knots of wind from 8am to 6pm, with flat seas. It really is an extraordinary location with some of the best beaches. Sardinia is also high on my list; when you sail early in the morning the perfume of the rosemary comes off the land and it’s beautiful to experience.