Sanlorenzo CEO Massimo Perotti sings his favourite Neapolitan songs with Grace Trofa and shares what he loves about his yachts
Almax, an example of Neapolitan Italian creativity, is my new yacht. After 38 years in the business, I thought it was the right time to buy a new one for myself. At 34 metres, I think the SX112 is the right size to enjoy the sea. You have the feeling of being on a large yacht but also close to the water. I very much like the elliptical-shaped, transparent stairs connecting the lower deck to the flybridge. They don’t obstruct the view and you have a nice feeling of open space.
I met Mr [Paolo] Vitelli, the best manager in the business, when I was 22 and still studying business administration at university. After my degree, in 1982, I went to work full-time at Azimut-Benetti and worked alongside Mr Vitelli until 2004. In 2005 I bought Sanlorenzo.
I am very proud of what I have done. I worked day and night. I was driven by passion and enjoyed spending all my time studying new products and design. When I brought the SX88 to the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, there was a man that wanted to meet me; I assumed he wanted to buy the boat. Instead, he looked me in the eye and asked if I had built it. When I told him I had, he formed two circles with his index fingers and thumbs and told me I was an incredibly courageous guy to build such a boat, shook my hand and left.
I was born in Torino [Turin], which is in Piedmont, not by the sea. I did not get involved in yachting until I went to work for Mr Vitelli. The first new boat I owned was the Azimut 58. I bought it for my 40th birthday. It was the first boat I designed, when I was 32, and I bought the last one in the series.
That boat was a big success for Azimut because it changed yacht design. We used glue instead of bolts for the windows and that allowed us to change their shape from square to a more rounded design. The second one was the [Sanlorenzo] SD92 named Coco, just two years after I bought the company. In 2009, I bought the third boat, the SL106 designed by famous interior designer Rodolfo Dordoni.
Then for 10 years I had no boat; I focused on growing the company. When I bought Sanlorenzo, there were 75 employees and €40 million of revenue; today we are more than 700 employees with €500 million of revenue.
Selling 20 percent of my company stock to a Chinese corporation in 2013 was a difficult decision but I had to increase capital. I went to Shanghai for the signature. You know, the Chinese love a party. There was a band and singing and [they] asked me to come to the podium and sing an Italian song.
My grandmother was from Naples and I am proud of my heritage. So I asked what song they wanted to hear, and they said Dicitencello vuje. I was astonished as this is a Neapolitan song. I knew the tune but not the words, so this Chinese guy joined me on stage and sang this passionate Neapolitan song – perfectly. The partnership went on for five years fantastically well.
The political and economic situation changed in China, so I went back to Shanghai in December 2018 to buy back the shares. After we signed the papers and ate a fantastic dinner of Peking duck, I grabbed a cigar and went alone for a walk in the streets of old Shanghai. I remembered how five years before when I had trouble, the sale of that stock helped me support my company, and the singing of that song came back into my mind. It was a very pleasurable moment, and I will never forget it.