Milanese by birth and Tuscan by nurture, Capt. Andrea Viazzoli and family moved to the ancient seaside town of Castiglione della Pescaia in the Province of Grosseto when he was three years old. He learned to sail on an FJ dingy and by the time he was 16, he was racing and helping a friend deliver yachts in Italy and the South of France for Baltic Shipyard at Viareggio. “I studied at Nautical College and when I was nineteen, after National Service, sailing boats became my job,” says Capt. Viazzoli.
After some experiences on medium-sized and large sailboats, he started working on a Swan 57 in 1992 and has worked on Nautor’s Swans ever since, including projects such as: Swan 68, 75, 82 RS, 82 S, 90 S, 100 S, and now the new Nautor’s Swan Maxi Era 98, S/Y Drifter Cube. “Every project is a challenge,” he says, “and it’s very exciting to follow the construction and try to transmit all our years of lessons and experience at sea onto a new build.”
This 30-meter Nautor’s Swan 98 was designed by Germán Frers with comfort and ocean-passage making speed in mind. The interior is the work of designer Misa Poggi from Genoa. While Viazzoli doesn’t welcome all the changes in boat building, technology, material, design, dimensions, and particularly electronics that he has witnessed over the past 20 years, in the case of this 98/002 Drifter Cube project, he admits this robust but light, full carbon boat with a performance hull, twin rudders, and wide beam “gives an impressive stability and speed.” The Maxi Era semi-custom series comes with the option of a telescopic keel, but Drifter Cube opted for a fixed keel at 4.4 meters — the captain reckoning that, “If you ain’t got it, it can’t break.”
“I arrived up at Nautor’s Swan on July 1, 2020, to follow the final details, but I was involved in the project since January,” says Viazzoli. “Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, I had to communicate and coordinate with the yard by web until I had permission to go and actually visit. It meant liaising with the yard using drawings and emails. We didn’t have much opportunity to make changes.”
The yacht is fitted with a master suite, three ensuite guest cabins, a double, two twins, and two twin crew cabins. The galley is positioned close to the crew quarters. The focal point of the yacht is the salon at the yacht’s center, with the lounge area port side and dining area opposite. She is fitted out with light oak, walnut flooring, and matched with natural colors and materials.
“She was launched August 27, 2020, and we left Finland exactly a month later,” says Capt. Viazzoli. “We had a nice delivery and just a minor problem with the mast to deal with. It was the fourth time I had delivered a boat from Pietarsaari but the first time I had done it in October in the North Sea — an experience not to be repeated! We had to wait for a weather window in Copenhagen and in La Coruna and we took a lot of rain until Portugal…but the boat and the crew were very good. She’s very fast and comfortable. All the systems worked perfectly, and I was impressed with the interior comfort.”
His main gripe with modern boats is their consumption. “As I told you before, boats are now equipped with all these electronic things, ventilation, smart chargers for lithium batteries, and Wi-Fi everywhere,” he says. “It’s hard to keep consumptions down and I think we should start seriously to think about alternative power sources for these things, even on a yacht of this size.”
Drifter Cube and crew arrived safe but soaked at La Spezia, Italy, on November 3, 2020, happy to hunker down for the winter. “Our next plans are to do the summer season in Greece and then cross with the next Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) in November 2021, do a Caribbean season, and then back in the Med in April 2022 or continue west. We had planned to take part in the ARC race last year, but we canceled. Maybe this year…,” the captain says.
Maybe this year indeed….
This article originally ran in the April 2021 issue of Dockwalk.