Cantiere del Pardo: 50 Years of Success

With three days full of events, the celebrations of Cantiere del Pardo are beginning in Portopiccolo, Trieste, to mark 50 years of activity and successes for this shipyard, which in 2023 still has same appeal it had at its debut.

From the 23rd to the 25th of June Cantiere del Pardo gathered around designers, dealers from all over the world (from Thailand to the United States), leading personalities in the yachting industry and above all shipowners, Italian and beyond, to pay homage to a company that has been able to build a successful story step by step. The celebrations opened with an exciting Gala dinner, held in the beautiful setting of the Sistiana Bay, and then continued, on the following days, with two moments of aggregation, fun and healthy competition: the traditional Grand Soleil Cup, at its 21st edition, and for the first time ever the Pardo Water Rally.

Grand Soleil 34
Grand Soleil 34 – Courtesy Cantiere del Pardo

Not many nautical brands can boast of a career as long and successful as that of Cantiere del Pardo, which, after writing 50 years of yachting history, is still an international point of reference and a business model for future generations.

Established in 1973 from the vision and passion of Giuseppe Giuliani Ricci, and today firmly steered by the CEO Fabio Planamente and by the President Gigi Servidati, Cantiere del Pardo is the perfect example of a successful Italian company which, thanks to its deep and solid roots, has looked to the future and risen to new challenges with confidence, always combining innovation and tradition. 

The history of Cantiere del Pardo is rich and complex,” says Planamente. “It is easier to identify some ‘milestones’ that coincide with the phases in which the company demonstrated its ability to adapt to changes, leading it to become what it is universally considered today: a flagship of the Italian shipbuilding industry. These ‘milestones’ can be identified as three moments: first, the passing of the baton – or perhaps it would be better to say ‘of the helm’ – from Giuseppe Giuliani Ricci to a series of funds; then, the 2014 restart, after the darkest period of boating, and, finally, the phase we hold most dear, the 2015-2017 three-year period. This coincides with the launch of the Long Cruise sailing range and, shortly after, with the birth of the Pardo Yachts brand, which led us into the motor world, giving us the boost to look forward with confidence and grow more and more.” 

Already a leader in the sailing boats market, with the legendary Grand Soleil Yachts brand, in 2016 Cantiere del Pardo decided to write another chapter in its long history, opening up to the motor yacht segment. 

Grand Soleil 42
Grand Soleil 42 – Courtesy Cantiere del Pardo

Grand Soleil Yachts: the origins

More than five thousand Grand Soleils have been produced in fifty years and the evolution of the range over the years has, in many cases, anticipated design solutions later adopted by the market. These boats have been the proud bearers of these solutions, having been conceived by the most famous designers of every era: it began in 1973 with Jean-Marie Finot, right up to today’s well-established design teams, such as the Polli – Lostuzzi – Nauta Design trio. In between are iconic models that have made history, such as the great GS 34, the first to be built (1973 -1983). Designed by Jean-Marie Finot in racing and cruising versions, 290 units of this boats were made. With the characteristic circular porthole at the stern, it was a huge success and shot Cantiere del Pardo into the medium-high segment of the market. Equally iconic are the GS 39 and 343, designed by Alain Jézéquel (also produced in many units) and the GS 52, GS 45 and GS 42, born from the collaboration with Germán Frers, which lasted from 1987 to 1989. Three years later, Cantiere del Pardo launched the GS Maxi One, designed by Bruce Farr.

In the wake of the great America’s Cup designers, Cantiere del Pardo also relied on Doug Peterson for the GS 50, while, in the second half of the 90s, three models were created, born from the collaboration with the firm of two brothers, Japec and Jernei Jakopin: the GS 37 (1996), the GS 46.3 (1997) and the GS 43 (1998).

Grand Soleil 40
Grand Soleil 40 – Courtesy Cantiere del Pardo

Grand Soleil Yachts: the new century

With the new millennium, other famous yacht designers entered the stage: the first was Massimo Paperini, who designed the Grand Soleil 40, one of the shipyard’s most successful models (about 230 units produced), which marks a stylistic turning point with the almost vertical bow and the tapering strip of the deckhouse, which seems to “cut” the portholes horizontally. This designer was followed by Philippe Briand, who designed the GS 56, and the Judel/Vrolijk studio, which was behind the GS 44 Race (Fastnet winner in 2003) and the GS 45 and GS 50 series models. When it comes to Botin & Carkeek (B&C), particularly worthy of mention are the regatta models, GS 42 (which won the IMS world championship for four consecutive years) and GS 56 (2003).

Grand Soleil 44
Photo Carlo Borlenghi

The Italian designers

Since 2011, Cantiere del Pardo has worked only with Italian designers. After Paperini and Luca Brenta – who designed, respectively, the GS 40 in 2000 and the GS 54 in 2007 – it was the turn of Claudio Maletto, who designed the naval architecture of two boats, the GS 39 and the GS 43. Maletto’s 39′ was the first standard Grand Soleil equipped with a bulb keel, while the 43′ was the first to also have a martingale (or fixed bowsprit).  

In 2013 Marco Lostuzzi presented the Grand Soleil 46 LC, whose acronym means “Long Cruise”, with the mainsail sheet point positioned on a carbon rollbar. Gigi Servidati was particularly keen on complementing the performance range with a range dedicated to cruising, so this yacht was a revolutionary and enormously successful project that marked the beginning of a collaboration that continues to this day. Lostuzzi has also designed the GS 48, jointly with Nauta Design

The shipyard’s very important working relationships also include the ones with Umberto Felci (GS 58) and Giovanni Ceccarelli (GS 80).

Grand soleil 72 performance
Photo Alberto Cocchi – Grand Soleil

Present and future

2020 marks the début of Matteo Polli, a very talented yacht designer who, after the highly successful GS 44 (designed with Nauta Design and winner of two ORC world championships), has worked on other projects, three of which are seafaring. These projects are the GS 40 (which, like the 44, is the work of Polli and Nauta Design) and the GS 72, both the Performance and the recently launched Long Cruise versions, the result of the joint work of Polli (waterlines and rigging), Lostuzzi (structures) and Nauta (interiors and deck). The third is the GS 65 LC, which will be launched in the coming months. The GS 72 also benefits from the great professional experience of Franco Corazza, project manager of all Grand Soleil models over 60 feet.

Cantiere del Pardo has a long and rich history indeed, but there is still much to be written, sailing in unchartered waters, constantly striving to achieve the excellence which has been its guiding light for 50 years and will continue to be so for decades to come.

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