Boating: Military Might

  • Michael Schulze

As smugglers of drugs and other contraband ply the Mediterranean, they often have unpleasant encounters with patrol boats built by Italy’s Rodriquez Cantieri Navali. When marine mines appear in global hot spots such as the Persian Gulf, minesweepers made by Rodriquez arrive to clear them away. Since the 1950s, Rodriquez also has built public ferries—first hydrofoils, then catamaran and monohull designs. These military and commercial craft are rugged, stable in rough water, and often very fast. And since 2001, Rodriquez has been offering yachts that display those same features. “What we’re doing,” explains yacht business manager Gianluca Ascheri, “is marrying military nautical technology to luxury yachts.”

Last October, the company debuted its Rodriquez 800 WideBody, an innovative, $4.2 million 80-footer. By eliminating the exterior side corridors in favor of an upper deck that is as wide as the vessel itself, the 800’s design provides as much interior space as most 100-footers. This year, the yacht will be joined by two others: the 680 WideBody, a 68-foot craft that will sell for about $2.5 million, and the 800 Sport, an 80-foot, 52 mph boat that will be priced at about $4.5 million.

Founded in 1887 in Messina, Sicily, as a ship repair yard, Rodriquez Cantieri Navali (not to be confused with the boatbuilder Rodriguez Group, headquartered in France) now owns five shipyards: one in Brazil and four in Italy, including Conam in Naples. Conam, which was acquired in 2002 and which has delivered more than 300 boats in the past 23 years, builds the WideBody and Sport lines for Rodriquez, as well as custom models. Last year, Daniel Berrebi of BRB Yachts in Coral Gables, Fla., signed on as the exclusive U.S. distributor of those boats.

BRB, a branch of a family marine business founded by Berrebi’s grandfather in 1921 in Tunisia, sells the craft under the name Rodriquez Yachts. “They’re aggressive-looking, beautiful, and spacious,” Berrebi says, “and because of Rodriquez’s history, they have elements you won’t find in other yachts.” The strong, fuel-efficient hulls come from the company’s military craft, as do the yachts’ stabilization systems and high-tech touchscreen controls. “There’s even a fast-release trapdoor that lets you drop a lifeboat into the water in five seconds instead of five minutes,” Berrebi notes. Rodriquez has given the Conam-built yachts special features for the U.S. market, including dual electric voltage, improved air-conditioning, and an up-to-date digital entertainment system. In addition to the 800 WideBody, Berrebi distributes the 46-foot 500 Sport Silver Edition ($850,000) and the 60-foot 600 Sport ($1.7 million).
 
The 800 Sport, which should arrive by this fall, will accommodate as many as 15 people and have a range of approximately 400 miles. The 680 WideBody, which is expected about the same time, will sleep eight, reach a top speed of 37 mph, and have a maximum range of about 460 miles. Rodriquez does not intend to stop there. “Daniel is having great success selling these boats,” Ascheri observes. “We plan to grow the Rodriquez Yachts line again fairly soon.”

Rodriquez Cantieri Navali, +39.090.77651
BRB Yachts, 305.537.0172, www.brbyachts.com

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