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Tributes paid to superyacht owner Joseph Vincent Vittoria

25 January 2021By Miranda Blazeby

Tributes have been paid to legendary superyacht owner Joseph Vincent Vittoria, who has passed away from Leukemia at the age of 85.

Born in 1935, Vittoria developed a passion for sailing early on after growing up near Sea Cliff on Long Island. After graduating from Yale with a degree in civil engineering, Vittoria began working at Hertz Rent A Car. His successful career saw him live in both New York and London, where he bought a series of Camper & Nicholsons sailing yachts.

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After retiring as chief executive of and chairman of Avis Rent A Car in 1997, he combined his passion for sailing with his love of engineering and developed a line of unusual sailing yachts dubbed the ‘Mirabellas”.

In 2003, he commissioned the 78.5 metre sloop Mirabella V, now M5, which remains the largest single-masted sailing yacht in the world. M5 also holds the world record for the largest sail and the tallest mast.

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Speaking about Vittoria, former M5 captain Rocka Romcke said: “He was a leading light is large sailing yachts, pushing boundaries always in design and practicality.”

He added: “The big thing about him is that you won’t find anyone in the world who knew him that will have a bad word to say about him. He was a true gentleman in every way. I worked on all his yachts for many years and it was a real privilege and honour.”

Vittoria’s obituary, written by his son Joe, described him as “loved and respected by all who knew him”.

“He rarely said a bad word about anyone and always believed the best of everyone. Joe was very generous with his time and ready to help almost anyone who asked, especially if it involved something that people said: “couldn’t be done.” Indeed, Joe was always a dreamer, and the combination of affection, intellect and vision is what made him so special.”