The annual Ferretti Captains’ Convergence training event was held in Courmayeur, Italy, from March 14–17, 2023, and drew in more than 100 captains and chief engineers from the Ferretti fleet. The training included industry updates to possible future scenarios in the field of environmental sustainability and energy transition.
This year’s event was attended by Nick Jeffery of BOAT International, who was able to witness the training and get a few words with Alberto Galassi, Ferretti’s CEO. Galassi’s welcoming speech stated they would be “crazy if they don’t learn from [captains.]” Ferretti invites feedback from its captains and engineers at the event, and they certainly get it.
“At the end, it is fundamental,” Galassi says. “They are the end user; they know the needs of their owners. They know and they can tell you what’s important to have on board, what’s useless to have aboard, what’s an extra complication that you might not need.” He pointed out that designers may want to be “too creative;” technicians “too innovative.”
“But the captains have to operate the fleet, the ships, so if you don’t listen to them, I think you are making a dreadful mistake,” Galassi says. “They are the fundamental player in the industry, the captains. In my experience, if you have the wrong captain, you tend to sell the boat. If you have the right captain, you fall in love with him, with sailing.”
The event, Galassi says, includes training and technical seminars and updates on new technology. Captains and engineers get a certificate for completing event training. This year’s included training on lithium-ion battery fires, which has been a hot topic over the last few years, and propulsion systems and alternative fuels.
Capt. Stefano Ardighieri of 55-meter CRN Atlante has attended the Ferretti events since 2016. “I tell my owner I work more during the winter than summer. … We are fully crewed then. During the winter, you have to follow the maintenance of the boat and you want to have some time with family as well. This event is part of my job, it is very important.” Atlante is his first Ferretti yacht and he spent 18 months in the yard with the build. “It was very good,” he says. “Our job is a team job, that is why this event is very important as you get to know people, sharing information and experience and grow together — and Ferretti Group then make a better product too.”
“But the captains have to operate the fleet, the ships, so if you don’t listen to them, I think you are making a dreadful mistake,” Galassi says.
When asked whether he felt there were improvements he’d like to see from CRN, he noted, “For all yards, the IMO should improve the rules. In the seminars here, we have been talking about how to fight a fire due to lithium batteries, for example,” he says. “But it is not the only thing. Safe manning between 500 and 3000GT is very important, but the rule is up to you if you are private, while for commercial charter it is compulsory. A private yacht of 90 meters is allowed to run with a captain and chief engineer only! Why don’t insurance companies get together with flag states and all push in one direction? It would be beneficial for them as well. During the winter we have 10 crewmembers [on Atlante], not just the minimum six. The boat is safer like that.”
He enjoys the event’s networking opportunities, too. “You have the opportunity to talk with the engineers and captains, also from smaller boats,” he says. “I think the first time I came, I was the captain of the biggest boat, the only one from CRN.”
As for what the future at Ferretti might bring? As Galassi explained, their hull forms are driven by efficiency, range, and comfort. “Now there is a lot of focus on stability, a lot of focus on range, on efficiency of the hull, in a word: efficiency.” Ferretti has a development budget of €34 million — [but] on average 29 to 30 million euros every year since 2018. The world is evolving,” Galassi says. “The naval architects, Ferretti Group engineers, R&D, our technical departments — every single day they experiment, they think, they plan. Whether it is on 3D testing or simulations or real testing.” The next step? “As soon as we have an alternative power system, it will be a huge step. When will we have it? I don’t know.”
Ferretti recognizes the importance of captains in all facets and are in constant communication with them during the build and buying process. “Captains are different — they are working for an owner and just give technical advice to an owner and see whether he is comfortable with the company that is providing the boat to him,” Galassi says. “We don’t talk to the owner as much as we talk to the captain. The captain complains, the captain has his needs, the captain is our interface at the end of the day. It is the owner for the lifestyle, it is the owner for the purchasing, it is the owner as a member of the family. It is the captain on the operational side, in the field.”