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Lunch with... superyacht owner Paola Trifirò

_Zefira _was built by Fitzroy Yachts in New Zealand; she’s a 49.7m fast-cruising sloop and the largest Dubois Naval Architects had designed without a flybridge. It started cutting aluminium in early 2009 and Salvatore visited just once, six months later. Paola was there regularly.

‘I was in New Zealand every month and a half, a total of seven times, staying three or four days, sometimes one week, sometimes 10 days, knowing the life of the shipyard and treating the 175 workers as friends,’ she says. Although there were language problems: initially she wanted help to translate from New Zealand English into plain English….

The interior design was done by Rémi Tessier, but only just, as Trifirò explains. ‘I wanted Rémi, but Ed (Dubois) thought he would be too busy, and when Ed tried calling Rémi, he told him, “I have three babies, I have a lot of jobs, and I can’t (do this job) because I hate travelling and New Zealand is too far for me. Thank you.”’

Eventually she called Tessier directly, holding the conversation in Tessier’s first language, French. The initial response was the same, but Trifirò had an answer ready. ‘I am sorry for you, because you can’t do with me what I did in Milano in my new apartment. Come and have a look.’ Two days later, Tessier travelled to Milan. ‘He didn’t say bonjour, just entered and said, “OK, we can work together.” And the collaboration has been very positive, Rémi is really great.’

Zefira _was launched in August 2010 and sailed for Fiji where she was met by the Trifiròs and their first guests. She cruised back to the Mediterranean via Panama and the San Blas Islands, and subsequently picked up a slew of awards: Sailing Yacht of the Year 2011 and Best Sailing Yacht 45m+ at the World Superyacht Awards 2011; and Exterior Design and Styling (sailing yachts) at the ShowBoats Design Awards 2011. She was also awarded the Art de Vivre Prize by La Belle Classe at the Boat International Rendezvous in Monaco, awarded to pay tribute to owners and their philosophy and way of life aboard their yacht. _Zefira headed back across the Atlantic in 2012 and recently survived Hurricane Sandy in Newport, Rhode Island.

The Trifiròs have also raced Zefira at the Caribbean Superyacht Regatta and Rendezvous, Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta and the Dubois Cup. Everywhere, the boat has turned heads and garnered admiring reviews. And having created such a beautiful, fêted boat, it is surprising to learn the Trifiròs are already considering replacing her; but then, change is the pattern of their yacht ownership.

Trifirò explains her philosophy: ‘If you have a splendid house, a beautiful house, you don’t think about changing; but even with a beautiful boat, there are things you could do in a new, different way. This is the dream.’ The world’s economic circumstances may be against it, however. ‘The general situation is difficult, there are problems and risks. We must clarify our ideas. Everybody has ideas, but at the moment the final result is just the splendid dream of a new, mysterious creature.’

As I prepare to leave, I can’t help but think that the evidence Paola Trifirò still has a powerful urge to design and create is all around me. And somehow, I doubt a little thing like the global financial crisis will stop her finding an outlet for that ambition. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not that means another superyacht.

Originally published in Boat International March 2013

Photography by Carlo Borlenghi

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