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In conversation with Marcello Persico

Next year the Persico Marine yard – the company is also a centre of excellence for the production of composite materials for top-level sail yachts – will have been collaborating with Italy’s Luna Rossa team for twenty years. Persico Marine is still working alongside the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team, which will be taking part in the 37th America’s Cup at Barcelona for the Circolo della Vela Sicilia. (Here all our posts on Persico Marine)


Persico Marine, from waves to space

Marcello Persico, president of Persico Marine, says, “The 9100 certification means that we can also collaborate with Avio, which specialises in satellite launch systems. Aerospace is a business sector we’re pushing very strongly. We’re the only people in the yacht-building sector offering laminating technology based on the Coriolis robot that we also use in aerospace solutions. 


Not forgetting the America’s Cup

For the general public, though, your name is linked to the America’s Cup and Luna Rossa, isn’t it?

Yes, and we’ve been collaborating with Luna Rossa since 2004. Over the course of many campaigns the work group has remained unchanged, bringing together many highly-skilled individuals. Being a constant part of this team is a great source of pride. It’s a sign of evolution and continuity. 

12/03/21 – Auckland (NZL) 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada America’s Cup Match – Race Day 2 Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team

You’re not only building the new AC75 for Luna Rossa, are you? 

No. The AC75 the Chase Boat each take up half of the Luna Rossa hangar. The protocol for the 37th America’s Cup dictates that every team should have a chase boat, and this one is a 10-metre catamaran with foils and hydrogen propulsion. It has to reach 50 knots and be able to sail for 75 miles at 25 knots. This means balancing the weight of the engines, hydrogen tanks, on-board electronics and crew with a super-light construction. We use the same materials and technology as the AC75. I don’t think a motor yacht like this has ever been seen before. 


You’ve already built a 30-metre motor yacht we could call traditional. Does the construction of this chase boat with foils open up a whole new field? 

Transferring technology from a prototype like the America’s Cup chase boat to a motor-powered cat with foils for pleasure use is a definite opportunity.  We’re thinking about a bigger boat with electric propulsion, although we haven’t dismissed hydrogen as a power source. We could develop an engine for hydrogen co-generation to resolve the problem of refuelling. We’re not considering a 50-knot catamaran, though. Sailing and managing a yacht at this speed would require a very expert skipper. With less uncompromising performance and an emphasis on range we could achieve more reasonable construction solutions. Even if…


Even if…? 

Even if I think that our brand positioning and the super-premium owners we target enable us to consider extreme designs and products. 

Still in the context of the America’s Cup, as well as your commitment with Luna Rossa you’re also official supplier of arms – is that correct?

Yes, we’ll be supplying the arms (every team has two pairs of arms – ed) to Alinghi Red Bull Racing, Orient Express Racing Team and Emirates Team New Zealand, which has given one of its craft to the French team. 


The arms bring us back to the foils. When did your adventure in this world begin?

The first foil we made was for the SL33, the small foil catamaran used by Luna Rossa for training at the 2013 America’s Cup in San Francisco, the one with the AC72 yachts. Since then we’ve constructed over 100 foils and daggerboards for all types of craft. We’ve moved from foils that, on the Imoca yachts for example, have a wing forming a right angle with the final sections that came a metre and a half out of the water to today’s long, entirely curved C-foils. We’re building two 20-metre foils for an 85-metre cruiser.


They will stabilise the yacht, enhancing on-board comfort, just like on the 72-foot catamaran we’re building, set for delivery next year. This project, too, is an entirely Persico Marine affair. It will have seven-metre foils and a helm with elevator. It won’t fly, though – it will skip across the water. The foils and elevators will make it possible to reduce displacement by 80% and make the yacht safer, with less risk of capsizing. This yacht means we’re raising the bar even higher in terms of research and development. 

Speaking of challenges, what’s been the toughest so far? 

It has to be the 44-metre Kauris IV. Its technical content has created a new benchmark in the yacht industry.  


Then there are the two maximum speed challenges handled by Persico Marine.

Yes, we’ve worked for the Syroco and SP80 teams, both of which are targeting the 80-knot barrier. The teams have developed the aerodynamic and fluid dynamics aspects of the projects while we’ve built two yachts with truly extreme construction, borrowing a great deal from aeronautics and aerospace, two of the worlds, alongside yacht building, that Persico Marine works in.

Matteo Zaccagnino

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