Benetti’s 150th anniversary: From Humble Beginnings to Global Superyacht Powerhouse

On June 16th 2023, Benetti commemorated its 150th anniversary in Viareggio, the birthplace of the shipyard's rich history. From its humble beginnings in Viareggio, to its present-day status as a global leader, Benetti has been synonymous with values, excellence, design, and technological innovation. Founder Paolo Vitelli, Chair Giovanna Vitelli, CEO Marco Valle, and the company employees warmly welcomed local authorities, showcasing their strong connection to the territory.

The celebrations continued at the Livorno Shipyard, the largest shipyard in the Mediterranean, where shipowners and SuperYacht Times who were also in attendance were treated to a magnificent evening. Inside one of the warehouses, renowned architect Charles Kaisin creatively showcased Benetti's history, captivating guests with theatrical elements and immersive experiences.

Iconic Benetti yachts adorned the marina, creating a mesmerising backdrop for the event. The festivities concluded at the Livorno shipyard, with a day dedicated to employees, their families, and suppliers. A range of enjoyable activities, including lighthouse visits, sailing trials, and cultural showcases, added to the joyful atmosphere. Long-standing employees received well-deserved recognition, while young talents were provided with special training opportunities, emphasising their vital role in the shipyard's future.

The shipyard's illustrious heritage is highlighted by remarkable achievements, such as housing the Brigantino San Giorgio, alongside Leonardo da Vinci's drawings at the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan.

Under the visionary Lorenzo Benetti in the 1960s, the shipyard revolutionised the yachting world by transitioning from wood to steel construction, giving birth to the modern megayacht concept. The Delfino, Gabbiano and Mediterraneo series became iconic vessels, captivating the aristocracy and international jet set during the era of ‘la dolce vita’. From Rainier of Monaco to David Bowie, the appeal of Benetti yachts attracted renowned personalities like Mick Jagger, Robin Williams and Michael Caine.

The notoriety of Benetti reached new heights with the commissioning of the legendary ‘Nabila’, later known as the ‘Trump Princess’ and now 'Kingdom 5KR' by Adnan Kashoggi. Its exquisite design and opulent interiors captured worldwide attention and even found a place in James Bond’s film ‘Never Say Never’.  

In 1985, Paolo Vitelli, the young owner of the Azimut yard, acquired F.lli Benetti, driven by his admiration for the Livorno shipyard's unrivalled excellence in the luxury yacht industry. With a vision to restore the brand's former glory, Vitelli renamed it Cantiere Benetti and implemented a comprehensive financial restructuring plan. His forward-thinking decision to introduce composite materials in the groundbreaking Classic 115' line of 1988 resulted in the sale of an impressive hundred units within a decade, setting an absolute record in the nautical world.

Demonstrating a pioneering spirit, over two decades ago, Paolo Vitelli constructed the world's first diesel-electric yacht, the Ambrosia, in 2006, foreseeing the significance of environmentally conscious industrial development. Additionally, he established an in-house R&D centre dedicated to reducing fuel consumption and incorporating sustainable materials. Benetti's commitment to innovation and expertise is evident in their latest creation, "Luminosity," a monumental 107-metre yacht featuring a hybrid propulsion engine, a testament to the company's technological advancements.

In 2022, the yard garnered acclaim for the B.Yond 37-metre yacht, recognised as the greenest in its class due to its innovative hybrid propulsion system. The same year witnessed the revolutionary Oasis Deck™ series, introducing a new industry trend with its side-wing sterns that seamlessly open to the water, redefining onboard lifestyle.

Article Author: Enrico Chhibber, Superyacht Times