The origin story for many superyacht captains begins with a childhood by the sea. This is not the case for Franco Guardì, the captain of the new 33-meter Sanlorenzo SP110 Almax, who grew up inland in Milan, Italy. “When someone asks me why I’m a captain if l’m from Milan, a city far from the sea, I usually like to say it’s because what you desire the most is what you do not have! I chose this life to be out at sea, and so far, I’ve been lucky enough to follow my dream,” says Capt. Guardì. As we speak, he is cruising in the Exumas, after the yacht spent the summer in Italy, Turkey, Greece, and France.
Guardì started his professional career as a landlubber, working as a computer consultant in Milan. “But after 20 years, I knew that kind of life didn’t belong to me anymore,” he says. Guardì was already a sailing instructor and skipper and he credits his wife, Anna, with being supportive of him to follow his “crazy idea.” Over the years, he’s worked on many yachts, including a 45-meter Benetti, 65-meter Codecasa, 45-meter custom ketch sailing yacht, as well as many Perini Navis and Fitzroy sailing superyachts.
Capt. Guardì’s atypical entry into professional yachting is a perfect accompaniment to the unusual nature of the yacht that he now captains. The SP110 reimagines what a high-performance, open boat can be. She boasts an innovative layout with a double-height entrance aft opening up to a lofty mezzanine level main deck and a cozy lounge below. The accommodations for eight guests, including the master, are on the lower deck. She has a purposefully pared back and sleek exterior design by Zuccon International Project and a chic Lissoni & Partners interior.
The SP stands for Smart Performance, and this is a nod to her waterjet propulsion, SCR emissions control system, and 35 square meters of solar panels that cover the roof. At the end of the day, this is still a fast boat, reaching a top speed of 40 knots, but these eco-minded attributes are intended to balance things out.
Guardì met the owner of Almax at the Genoa International Boat Show in 2020, introduced by Hill Robinson management. “I am very lucky because the owner was keen to make the yacht efficient and practical, and he involved me in the last part of the project planning and during the build. The Sanlorenzo technical and production department has been very helpful trying to apply, where applicable, all my advice to make this yacht more practical and easier to maintain.”
Capt. Guardì appreciates Almax’s open spaces, large windows, and sliding glass walls that allow the interior and exterior to blend in perfect harmony. “I do believe this yacht is truly smart in every aspect, first of all, being a [33-meter] yacht that offers guests the space of a larger yacht," he says. But it's her efficiency and quiet performance that steal his heart. “The 60 solar panels generate 6kW/h to charge on board 24V service batteries, and all appliances on board have been chosen to minimize the electricity consumption. Our 16 lithium batteries with 12okW capacity allow us to run five hours full load without diesel generator or nine hours in night mode.
“Yesterday, cruising in the Exumas, as we approached O’Brien Cay, we crossed the shallow and narrow passage in complete silence thanks to MJP technology, which allows us to safely maneuver the yacht at the minimum rpm,” he continues. “As a sailor, I appreciate being able to respect nature, entering bays in silence and without polluting emissions — this to me is one of the most remarkable qualities of this fast cruiser.”
In terms of crew life on board, Capt. Guardì judges the yacht to be excellent with good-size accommodations and plentiful storage. “The under lower deck has high [1.5-meter average] and wide bilges where we organized full sets of spare parts for every system on board,” he says. “Maneuvering stations are well designed, and bollards have the right dimension and position. The anchor locker dimension allows us to store all our fenders inflated, saving us the time of deflating and inflating every time we leave the marina even for day cruises.”
Since June 2022, Almax has logged more than 6,000 nautical miles. “During all this time, the crew managed to provide excellent service and hospitality to her owners and guests,” says Guardì. “I am very happy to be captain of this innovative yacht.”
This article originally ran in the January 2023 issue of Dockwalk.