Shipyard: Ferretti Group’s Italian Heart, Global Reach (Part 2)
Boasting a record order book, Ferretti Group is working around the clock and around Italy to keep up with production, as it continues to upgrade and expand facilities in its six shipyards from the west coast to the east coast and in the north.
Words: John Higginson; Photos: Ferretti Group
The larger Ferretti Yachts models are built in Cattolica
CATTOLICA: LARGE FERRETTI YACHTS
From Mondolfo, it’s just a half-hour drive up the coast to Cattolica, a popular seaside resort town with a long beach lined with hotels. In contrast to Ancona and Mondolfo, the Cattolica site is dedicated to just one brand, Ferretti Yachts, although Custom Line models were built here in the past.
It’s Ferretti Group’s smallest production facility and set about 100m inland in the main town, surrounded by houses.
As such, following the completion of each Ferretti Yachts boat, local authorities need to clear and close two adjoining roads, so each boat can be wheeled along the streets and down to a Ferretti Yachts-branded travel-lift at the local marina. The company has a sales office at the marina and typically occupies several berths in front of the office for testing and sea trials.
Streets must be closed for yachts to be wheeled to sea
Opened in 2001, the 12,000sqm site has one large 7,000sqm building that includes offices and one large, well-lit production shed that includes a woodwork area and 16 assembly stations for the Ferretti Yachts 780, 860, 920 and flagship 1000, the biggest yacht that can be built in the facility.
The production layout is based on an island construction model, where each workstation is independent, and a completed boat can be moved out without disrupting the other stations. In January 2022, a fire broke out that affected three yachts, yet within three weeks, the facility was fully operational and staged its first launch of the year at the beginning of February.
About 300 staff and sub-contractors work onsite, and Ferretti Yachts sales staff say the site is working at full capacity to keep up with orders, which include at least a dozen sales for the 30m flagship, which debuted at the 2021 Venice Boat Show.
The nearby marina has a Ferretti Yachts sales office
The brand’s orders are split about 55 per cent in EMEA, 35 per cent in Americas and 10 per cent in Asia-Pacific. It’s worth noting that three of the first eight hulls of the FY1000 were sold to Asia: two to Taiwan and a customised version for mainland China.
FORLI: WALLY, HQ, MOULDS AND MORE
From Cattolica, it’s a 45-minute drive northwest to Forlì, which is 30km inland and 30 minutes away from the picturesque town of Cesenatico, where completed boats are delivered for testing and sea trials.
Forlì hosts the Ferretti Group headquarters and home of Wally
The 52,000sqm inland site in Forlì is home to the Ferretti Group headquarters, a production plant for the smaller Ferretti Yachts models (500, 580, 670 and 720) and Itama 62RS, the Group’s Plug & Mould Plant, a testing pool, paint halls and new Wally facilities currently producing the Wallytender and Wallypower models.
Upon entering, the Forlì site is dominated by a very large glass office building on the right, which houses the technical team, while across the car park is the company headquarters, which houses the Group’s engineering, purchasing, finance and administration teams.
Forli produces Ferretti Yachts 500-720 models, Itama 62RS, Wallypower and Wallytender
The 5,000sqm Plug & Mould Plant is one of the hidden keys to Ferretti Group’s ongoing success. Opened in 2006, its work shortens the lead time for new products and allows the Group to keep presenting an average of five to six new fibreglass models each year.
The plant, which has about 150 employees and sub-contractors onsite, develops all the tooling and hull moulds for each of the Group’s GRP models, constructs big GRP components and includes a CNC machine, 3D printing and a painting hall.
Ferretti Group’s remarkable Plug & Mould Plant
Recent hull moulds include the Wallywind110 sailing yacht with naval architecture by German studio Judel/Vrolijk, although both the Wallywind110 and custom Wally 101 – launching this year – are being built nearby by external companies.
The Plug & Mould Plant is a wondrous world for visitors, who can see and hear about future models before they’ve been announced. We found out about the Wallywhy100 well before it was publicised in December and found out about other new models like the 122ft … to be continued.
Ferretti Group acquired a neighbouring site to build the Wally facilities and in 2019 opened the first shed, which today has production lines for the Wallytender48 and Wallytender43. Each model is available with inboard engines or in an X version with outboards, a popular choice in the US market.
The multi-purpose Forli site also has painting halls
After hulls arrive from the sub-contractor, it takes about 50 days and 60 days to complete a Wallytender43 and Wallytender48 respectively, followed by about 20 days in dock in Cesenatico.
The neighbouring shed for the Wallypower58 opened in 2021 and both halls can operate with their front ‘doors’ completely open, offering ventilation and a view of the surrounding farmland. Wally motor yachts are offered in a variety of different colours including the popular gunmetal, other greys, silvers, greens and blues. Plans for the Wally site include a showroom and an office building.
SARNICO: RIVA’S HISTORIC HOME
From Forli, it’s a 300km, 3hr-plus drive northwest inland to the historic Riva shipyard at the southern end of Lake Iseo, set 185m above sea level and surrounded by gorgeous, wooded mountainside.
Set by Lake Iseo, the iconic Riva facility in Sarnico produces 27-68 models
With Bergamo to the west and Milan just over an hour away, the home of Riva has easy access to city life, but the sub-alpine lakeside setting of the Sarnico shipyard feels like another world. In contrast to the Group’s other production-dominated facilities, the 43,000sqm Sarnico site feels like a brand experience tour or a journey back in time.
Established by Carlo Riva in 1954, the site is where Riva’s iconic models of the 1950s and 1960s, such as the legendary Aquarama, were built on a large scale, establishing the brand as the boat of choice for royalty and film stars as la dolce vita gripped the nation.
A Riva 68’ Diable in front of La Plancia (the bridge)
Today, Sarnico produces all of Riva’s smaller models, from the 27ft Iseo to the 68ft Diable. These include the limited-edition Anniversario, which is based on the hull of the 33ft Aquariva, features styling inspired by the iconic Aquarama and was launched last year as part of the brand’s 180th anniversary.
The 17,000sqm of covered facilities includes numerous production sheds and four painting halls, hardware includes two jib cranes and a 50-tonne trolley, while the scenic waterfront offers 10 moorings.
Carlo Riva’s iconic office is a highlight of the Sarnico shipyard
One of the sheds is set up as a Riva museum and features several historic boats like an Ariston and a Triton, scale models, lots of photos and informative details on the brand’s history and boats. There’s also a separate workshop for restoring classic Rivas.
However, the focal point is the late Carlo Riva’s original office, which he designed himself and is a listed building, protected by the Italian Department of Cultural Heritage. Known as La Plancia (the bridge), the first-floor office protrudes from the front of the building like the prow of a yacht, suspended above the covered waterfront walkway and offering a 270-degree window views of the sheds, moorings and the lake.
A stunning Riva Lounge sets the scene
Below La Plancia and the other offices on the first floor is a beautifully designed Riva Lounge, with walls covered in photos, both historic and modern. Like the interior of a Riva yacht, the whole room features elegant furniture in stainless steel, leather and wood, racks display Riva accessories and memorabilia including F1 helmets, while a curved staircase leads to a mezzanine landing that continues the theme.
And if you’re lucky, you might even be invited aboard the last Aquarama produced (hull 784, launched in 1996) for a cruise on Lake Iseo to have lunch at the exclusive Riva Privée on the top floor of the Spirito Divino waterfront restaurant.
LA SPEZIA: NEXT-LEVEL RIVAS
The Riva story continues in La Spezia, one of Italy’s main yacht-building hubs along the country’s northwest coast along with Massa, Viareggio and Livorno, ensuring a strong supply chain and network of sub-contractors.
On the west coast, the La Spezia shipyard builds Riva models from 76-130ft
Ferretti Group acquired the waterfront facility in 2001, upgrading the shipyard before beginning yacht production in 2004. Today, about 550 employees and sub-contractors work on the 69,000sqm site, which has about 17,000sqm of indoor facilities including production sheds and two beautiful three-sided office buildings that overlook a series of berths covered by an enormous roof structure. A 400-tonne travel-lift is among the hardware.
The shipyard – which used to build some Custom Line yachts –today produces 76-130ft Riva models, which include the 76’ Bahamas Super and 88’ Florida from the Open range, plus the 76’ Perseo Super and 88’ Folgore from the Sportfly series.
Hull two of the Riva 130′ Bellissima launches at La Spezia
The site also builds the fast-growing Flybridge series, which began with the 100’ Corsaro that premiered in Hong Kong in March 2017. Last year, the 24th unit was succeeded by the first 102’ Corsaro (Yacht Style Issue 66 cover), which fits in a range that includes the similarly in-demand 90’ Argo, 110’ Dolcevita and 130’ Bellissima.
The first 130’, the US-owned Janus, debuted at the Monaco Yacht Show last September, when the 299GRT model had already secured close to double-figure sales. The La Spezia facility has the capacity to build three units of the Bellissima at one time, having launched about 45 Riva Flybridge yachts in the past six years.
The 102’ Corsaro Super was launched last year and early sales include a unit for Taiwan
Ferretti Group is aiming to increase production at the site from just under 30 units a year to 35, an even more imposing task when you consider the 130’ Bellissima is now among the models.
As such, new production sheds, offices, showrooms and client areas – where buyers can discuss materials, décor, exterior colours and other options – are already under construction and set for completion in the coming year. Progress never stops.
Note: The full original article appeared in YACHT STYLE Issue 69 (click for PDF)