Cantiere delle Marche (CdM) has sold a new 108-foot explorer yacht in its Nauta Air range to a northern European client. The owner opted for the steel and aluminium yacht after being impressed by the sistership M/Y Narvalo (pictured) during its presentation at the last Cannes Yacht Show. The sale brings the total of Nauta Air yachts sold to five. 

CdM was set up in 2010, slap bang in the middle of the economic downturn. Since then, it has revitalised the niche market for ocean-going ‘pocket’ explorers, first with its rugged Darwin series (pictured, Darwin 96 Stella di Mare) and then the more refined Nauta Air range designed by Nauta Yachts and based on the Darwin’s technical platform.

“People thought we were crazy, but we felt we had recognised a gap in the market for smaller oceangoing expedition yachts made out of steel and aluminium,” says Sales & Marketing Director Vasco Buonpensiere (pictured, right, with CEO Ennio Cecchini). “I don’t know a passionate yachtsman who doesn’t look at an explorer-style yacht and feel tempted to go adventuring.”

The business plan was – and still is – to keep the operation lean with a compact workforce and relatively limited production. The reasoning was that a cautious approach to growth would allow them to control quality and stay profitable as they worked to establish the brand.

The successful strategy further means that the company can react quickly to customer feedback. In fact, the Nauta Air series was launched because the masculine lines of the Darwin class did not appeal to all of the brand’s prospective clients (or, more specifically, to their wives and girlfriends).

The same adaptive reasoning has also led to a subtle restyling of the Darwin class by Sergio Cutolo of Hydro Tec; small but significant changes that have resulted in a more streamlined superstructure and a softer profile. Taking its cue from the Nauta Air, the traditional trawler-style windows have also been enlarged.

CdM is attracting owners aged in their early 30s to late 80s from countries as far apart as the UK, Argentina, Australia, Germany, Mexico and Italy. Surprisingly for a builder of displacement vessels in steel and aluminium, the majority of its clients previously owned composite planing yachts.

This would seem to substantiate Buonpensieri’s claim that they have tapped into a gap in the market – a “niche within a niche,” as he calls it. He originally expected the client base to be elderly sailboat owners looking to migrate to more comfortable motor cruising, but the wide range of nationalities, ages and backgrounds show how the yard has anticipated the evolution of the market. Today, CdM claims to command 60 per cent of the market for explorers between 80 and 112 feet.

Bruno Piantini, Director General of CdM adds: “With this contract Cantiere delle Marche fullfills all the available slots until April 2019 and, as per our business plan, it will reach the maximum number of four yachts delivered per year in order to maintain our high standards of quality, customer care and to be faithful to our mantra: we want to be better and better, not bigger.”

Over the last 12 months, CdM has delivered four Darwin class yachts (86’, 102’, 107’, 102’) and succeeded in signing contracts every 2-3 months for yachts over 100 feet. The shipyard is currently building a Nauta Air 111/15, a Darwin Class 102/14 and a Darwin Class 102/16.

(portrait photo by Justin Ratcliffe)


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