I learned some sad news late last week, while reading the briefs on The Yacht Report’s Web site: Paolo Scanu, the talented designer behind many well-known megayachts, has died.
Although I never met him, Scanu made a big impression on those who did. He got his start in the yacht industry at Camper & Nicholsons’ yard in 1975, drawing sailing yachts, then left to work for Benetti in 1978. Other familiar names from Italy and other corners of the globe followed from the 1980’s through this decade, including CRN and Alloy Yachts.
For example, Numptia, the classic canoe-stern motoryacht, and Georgia, the radiant red sailing yacht, were built at these yards, respectively, and judging from Scanu’s comments on his Web site, they were cherished projects. Regarding Numptia, Scanu credits the owner with insisting everyone give their best: “It was his first yacht, and this had a positive influence in the project, for it brought in a fresh approach at developing the design and removing stale pre-concepts, and I would like to think that he enjoyed the anticipation and creation of the design process as much as I did.” With regard to Georgia, Scanu reveals being called in to redesign plans started by another naval architect. The engine room posed a particular challenge because, among other things, there was a 15-meter-long (nearly 50-foot-long) propeller shaft. I’ll let you read the full tale at Scanu’s Web site, but this excerpt describing how he was approached gives good insight into his personality: “I had not been involved in real sailing work, when suddenly, the opportunity re-presented itself in 1996, thanks to a very successful American broker, great friend of mine, that I love dearly, even if sometimes I feel like strangling him with my bare handsâ€¦”
Humor aside, Scanu also saw the value of collaborating with builders that weren’t household names. In the early part of this decade, he collaborated with a yard named Bodyat in Turkey for Bushido, a 33-meter (108-foot) ketch belonging to the Greek-born journalist Taki Theodoracopulos. (Interesting side note: When Taki was interested in building this yacht, he spoke with George Nicholson, who started Camper & Nicholsons’ brokerage division, and without missing a beat Nicholson recommended Scanu.) And at the time of his death, Scanu was collaborating with Sunrise Yachts, an up-and-coming yard in Turkey, on two 45-meter (148-foot) yachts. The first of these steel-hulled vessels is expected to be delivered next spring.
So while Scanu’s contributions to this industry may have ended suddenly, his designs will surely live on in the hearts and minds of those who admired him.