Werner Wunderli talks us through his sailing résumé from learning to sail in Switzerland to his latest 28.5 metre CNB sailing yacht Savarona.
I was born in Switzerland, and I started sailing at the age of 15 on Lake Zürich with a Finn dinghy and Flying Dutchman. I sailed on the 5.5 Metre IC, an Olympic-class boat until 1968 and won several European championships. I then organized the first series for the 5.5 Metre IC and ran these regattas from 1970 to 1980. When business got to be too much, I stopped these activities but always rented boats in the Mediterranean.
About 10 years ago I bought a used 58ft Beneteau Oceanis to see if bluewater sailing was my passion. Then, of course, you want bigger, so I bought a new Oceanis 62 – but unfortunately, I had problems with this boat and ended up selling it. The day before it was to go in the water, we had a storm with 60-knot wind and the mast fell onto two other boats in the shipyard.
I took the advice of a yacht broker friend of mine at that point and found a used boat with an aluminum hull. My plan is to split the time between charter and personal use, about 20 weeks of each.
Savarona is a 93ft yacht built in 2001 by CNB. The boat had a refit at La Ciotat Shipyards in southern France. Because we will charter, we had to follow very tight guidelines of Bureau Veritas, and we had delays due to the pandemic. In the end, the refit took 16 months. The biggest change we made is to add a carbon-fiber convertible roof for shade that I designed with an electrical opening over the cockpit.
For cruising I like the Amalfi Coast, Corsica and Sicily, and when I am in the Caribbean, I really like the BVIs and the northern region of the Caribbean for its agreeable temperatures. Because of its location, its airport and good infrastructure, Antigua will be a good departure point for charters I think. I did an Antigua Race on a Swan 47 40 years ago with three champion sailors and we finished third out of 200 boats. Coming from the middle of Europe, I hadn’t experienced 25ft waves. The boat was always underwater, and we were on the same level as the dolphins. To look behind and see these high waves was amazing, I keep replaying this experience like a film in my head. My skin peeled three times under the hot sun and I was so tanned my family didn’t recognize me.
I think I may be a bit too old for this kind of racing now, but when I am on the boat I am always correcting the sails – and when I see another boat coming round, I always want to be the faster one. I will always be a racer; it is in my genes. If I did not have a family, I would sail away, see the world and never return. When the boat makes the passage to Antigua from France, I will be on board for six to seven days until the Canary Islands; every minute I am waiting to go out on this boat.
Savarona is currently listed for sale with Bernard Gallay Yacht Brokerage, asking €2,500,000.