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2024-03-19 15:48

Antonio Vettese



INTERVIEW Matteo Polli by Antonio Vettese

by Antonio Vettese


Matteo, you started by winning regattas, and the audience has the impression that you are a fast architect, but you also do other things, like creating these spectacular Grand Soleil, which are ultimately cruising boats…

Yes, I do my best in this field that is not strictly sportive, bringing the knowledge acquired in regatta fields and trying to combine it as best as possible in this use that is not always just for cruising. Many also do regattas with boats born for cruising. The goal is always to try to make the experience of sailing a boat the best one possible, both when sailing and when stationary at anchor or in the marina. 

The point is precisely that the boat should be able to sail well in any condition and give those who sail it the opportunity to navigate in any situation, including close-hauled, even in strong winds. Because if the boat has the qualities and is seaworthy for that type of navigation, I don't see why an owner shouldn't use it. Of course, one prefers to sail with a tailwind; one prefers to sail when the wind is pushing. Objectively, it's also more fun. However, if a boat is well designed, in my opinion, it's always fun.

A boat must provide the possibility to move wherever you want, not necessarily where the wind is blowing or where the wind is pushing. What I try to do in every project, is to design lines that make the boat fun and, above all, seaworthy and safe, because that is what you truly need to stay at anchor and be comfortable.


A somewhat provocative question: one or two rudder-blades? You see flared bottom hulls with two rudders, and one wonders "Why do they do that"? 

This is another very interesting topic that each designer deals with differently depending on the type of boat. But there is also another question to ask: “What is the most likely condition in which a boat will sail?”. If I often have to sail with a tailwind, in strong winds, I would prefer to have the double rudder blade. If, however, I have to sail close-hauled, perhaps with light winds and more Mediterranean situations, so to speak, then I will probably prefer the single rudder blade. It's about finding a compromise. The double rudder blade has another advantage which is the ability to accommodate a reduced draft with greater efficiency. So, on larger boats, especially when you want to have shallow drafts, it is better to have a double rudder blade. If, however, you have a very long, single rudder blade, you have difficulty having a short keel. So, basically, you have to find the right balance on this topic and find the best solution for the type of boat or the type of navigation you want to do.


You deal with hulls and engineering, but I would like to hear your ideas about ​​the design, the interiors, and the distribution of volumes.

Well that opens up a much broader topic, I have my personal ideas that don't necessarily reflect the market, especially on these large boats like the Grand Soleil 72 or 65. These are situations where you can have different layouts, so there's something for every ship owner.


But what is your idea? Your way of sailing?

I prefer to always prioritize the aspect of sailing as if I set sail, I do everything around that. So if I have to think about how to arrange the interiors, how to distribute the systems, or the deck plan, I do it by closely tying everything together to make the boat work as best as possible.
It's obvious that, on a boat, depending on the size of it, you can have more or less advanced comforts. But if I were to design the boat for myself, I would first think about making it work well as a sailing boat, and after that comes everything else.


Sometimes design is used as a marketing driver putting the signature value beyond the substance that is inside. How do you position yourself in relation to this statement?

For my specific contribution to the project, which is naval architecture - that is, the hull forms, the sail plan, the appendages - I focus a lot on what we call efficiency. Design for me is something that comes after, however, I don't deny that some features, even of the hulls, give a mark to the overall design of the boat and therefore have an aesthetic impact. I also try to follow a bit of my philosophy and, if you will, also my signature in designing the hulls, the appendages, and everything else that, in short, is the complexity of naval architecture.


Modern boats and modern sails are built so much on VMG (Velocity made good), that is, on pure speed, which doesn't always coincide with where you want to go, at least in racing. But maybe you sail for VMG and gain two lengths, and you've won the race. But when you have ten miles ahead, it's different. How can you make the cruise boat versatile enough to take you where you want to go?

It starts with the concept of the project. For example, when designing racing boats, especially if the races are closed hauled and running with a tailwind, a designer will consider those conditions to achieve maximum performance. However, when designing a cruise or cruise-racing boat, you have to consider a whole variety of other types of sailing points, such as beam reaching, broad reaching, and close reaching, and it's clearly not the same as sailing on VMG.

This is because the owner or the one sailing must be able to choose where to go and use the wind to do so in the most efficient way possible, whether it's in a race or a cruise, and having fun, preferably. The design of the hull, the appendage, the sail plan, must adapt to one thing or the other, and as always, it's a compromise. 

You always have to compromise, and that's the work I do regularly. Basically, trying to get a boat that is as all-round as possible to allow those who use it to go wherever they want in the most comfortable and fastest way possible.