I meet Edward Sacks for lunch at Il Bar Sotto il Mare, just a stone's throw inland from the Benetti yard in Viareggio, on Italy's north eastern coast. Sacks was once both a superyacht owner, and founder and CEO of an innovative 1980s superyacht management company, The Sacks Group. That was a couple of decades ago; since then he's been living by the sea in Malibu, neither yacht owner, nor yacht manager. So it's really very interesting to find him back in Viareggio, the beating heart of Italian superyacht construction.
Sacks was introduced to boats and the sea at a young age. "My dad used to take me fishing on Long Island Sound. I was perhaps six or seven, and the first trip was not much fun." A raised eyebrow and hand indicates how rough that trip was. "My first experience was not a positive one, although I had an opportunity to observe the vastness of the sea." It was inspiring, to say the least, and the start of what became a life-long attraction for everything connected to the water.
"I suppose that is why I have always lived on the water," he adds. "On the Jersey coast, the Florida Keys, in Malibu, the Hamptons. That said, living near the ocean is one thing, but being on the water is a very special discovery, an experience like no other. The oceans, particularly, provide constant theatre - always changing, and occasionally dramatic."
Sacks ended his involvement after he moved to Malibu, and tired of the commute to Florida to run the business. "I called in the managers of the three divisions, told them I was selling them their respective units for one dollar, would discharge all current obligations (largely media commitments) and essentially handed them the company debt-free.' And that was that." Not long afterwards, Sacks also sold both yachts and the Whaler. "There's nowhere to use a boat in California - how many times can you go to Catalina?" he asks wryly.
Since then, more than 20 years have passed, and here is Sacks back in superyacht country. "I would still like to build Azzurra Due, perhaps a 60 metre," he says. Sacks points out how boats have grown. "When delivered in 1988, _Azzurra _was the 37th-largest boat in the world, and the 17th-largest in the US. Someone told me last year that when they saw the list of the top boats Azzurra was 632nd - in 25 years. I find that interesting, since I recall when 30.5 metres (100 feet) was considered a megayacht."
He has spent considerable time in Italy over the past year, during which time he has represented International Shipyards Ancona (ISA) and, through his efforts with the brokerage community in the US, has considerably expanded their presence and visibility in one of the world's largest markets.
Citing good chemistry with Baglietto's owner, Beniamino Gavio, he is considering doing the same for this legendary shipyard. And all the while Sacks will be looking to return to ownership himself - plus ça change, straddling the owner/industry divide, just like the old days.