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Why playing by the rules is important: pearls of wisdom from Cristiano Gatto

17 June 2024 • Written by Katia Damborsky

Every month, BOAT gets a good dose of life advice from some of the biggest names in yachting. This month, Cristiano Gatto recommends rainy walks in Venice and shares the story behind his iconic whale bone necklace... 

What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?
To learn the rules of the game. When I was younger, I designed yachts but had no desire to be part of the glamorous world of yachting. However, as I grew older, I learned that this, too, is part of the profession. I also learned that clients and shipyards judge you not only based on the projects you sign, but also on the image you create for yourself and how you associate yourself with those projects.

Where do you go in Monaco to escape the crowds?
I really enjoy walking along the cliff that starts beyond the tennis club. Sometimes, though, I also head to the observatory located in the middle of the woods, not far from Monaco. 

Where do you go when you want to feel inspired?
I can only answer Venice. I lose myself in its streets, preferably at night when the city is deserted, and I'm even happier if a light drizzle accompanies me.

Cristiano Gatto has a long-standing relationship with Dutch yard Heesen

What food makes life worth living?
I think of my mother's stuffed eggplants or the rice with chicken liver that my grandmother used to make. These are the dishes that reconnect me to my childhood, just as the gianduiotto ice cream I eat in a gelateria in Venice immediately takes me back to my Academy days.

What’s one tradition you have in your life or in your work?
At the end of every project, I take two hours for myself. I go on board, preferably in the evening when everyone has finished working and there is no one even at the shipyard, and I walk up and down the decks. 

What’s one thing you never leave your house without?
One thing I never take off is my necklace, a gift from a carpenter I met in New Zealand in 2000. Besides working together, we talked a lot during that time and discussed philosophy. He made me a necklace from bone, and since he gave it to me, I've never taken it off except to go to sleep. I can say that this necklace is part of my transformation; after that trip, I questioned many certainties and realised that the place to find the answers is always "elsewhere". 

What’s the best thing about your studio where you work?
We trust each other. To me, companies are people, and my studio consists of the people I work with.

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