The superyacht market is saddened to learn that Willy Persico, a giant in the sailing yacht industry, has passed away. Southern Wind announced the news over the weekend, saying “Willy leaves a precious heritage that we will take over and carry on.”
Persico was credited as a key player in creating a market for small sailing performance superyachts. The Italian’s passion for the superyacht industry was obvious, and he was as passionate about each yacht built by Southern Wind, as he was his own fleet of sailing yachts.
Persico’s knowledge of the market, as well as his successful business ethos, were evident in an interview with The Superyacht Report in 2014. When discussing how owners often initially ‘fall in love’ with the industry through their purchase of smaller vessels, Persico argued the importance of ‘entry point’ yachts, seeing 24-32m yachts as a sweet spot for the South African yard. “We think that an 82ft (24m) makes the owner feel as if they are on a big yacht and we build the model in the same way we build our bigger yachts,” he explained.
In many ways, this was prescient, a precursor as it was, to a now well-established industry discourse. “This size is ideal for owners who love to sail and enjoy life at sea without the constraint of a large crew, as an 82-footer can be easily handled by the owner, his family and one or two crew members; on the other hand, 82ft is an adequate size to enjoy proper guest privacy even with permanent crew,” he added.
Persico founded Southern Wind in 1991. With 22 deliveries of yachts over 30m since then, the shipyard has typically delivered one superyacht every year since its inception (an average of 0.8 deliveries per year), although the builder was prolific at 24m-plus, establishing a formidable fleet of racing yachts that put it among the elite tier of builders.
In 2017, the shipyard delivered two vessels, 34.5m S/Y Satisfaction and 31.4m S/Y Sorceress, and just last week announced the maiden voyage of 32m S/Y Seatius.
This consistency of output is testament to the quality of its vessels, the vision of Persico and its importance within the superyacht market.
Our thoughts are with Persico’s family and the Southern Wind team at this time.
Image courtesy of Southern Wind
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