Southern Wind Shipyard Plots Its Future Course

A combination of longtime shipyard executives as well as customers now runs Southern Wind Shipyard. This follows the sudden death of the shipyard’s founder just last month.

Willy Persico, who established the shipyard in South Africa in 1991, died on May 12. According to a statement from Southern Wind today, Persico had already mapped out the moment when he’d step down from operating the company. In fact, the statement indicates, Persico had laid it out at least two years ago. He even revealed it at the yard’s 25th anniversary celebration, mentioning both the yard and its marketing arm, Pegaso:

“The shipyard, during its 25 years of activity, has invested significant resources in the selection and growth of management to create a strong, skilled and harmonious team which is now bearing fruit. Companies are made by people; at the shipyard in Cape Town as well as at the offices of Pegaso in Genoa, I have my ‘pillars’ and I can count on their experience and advice from design to building and from marketing to customer care. In the future my team of managers will become the leader of the company to continue my way to build boats, or, maybe, their way to build boats.”

That team includes four executives. Some of them have spent two decades with the yard. Specifically, they are Marco Alberti, the general manager, who has served as such for 15 years. He first joined Southern Wind Shipyard, however, in 1994, three years after it opened. Complementing Alberti, there’s the sales manager, Andrea Micheli, who joined the yard in 2003 and took his current role five years later. The last two executives are Alberto Del Cinque and Giampaolo Spera. The former is general affair manager, serving as such since 2000. Del Cinque actually got his start, however, with Pegaso in 1994. While Spera only came to Southern Wind Shipyard two years ago, he has previous yachting experience, including overseeing Harken Italy.

Furthermore, three owners of Southern Wind Shipyard yachts are now company shareholders. Only one, though, chooses to be public. Juan Ignacio Entrecanales is a three-time customer. He currently owns Kiboko Dos, the first SWS94. (He’s also executive vice chairman of the Acciona Group, a Spanish conglomerate in the renewable-energy sector.) “Our mission will not be to substitute (for) Willy, but to make sure that his vision and heritage go on for years to come,” Entrecanales comments.

While they’re remaining anonymous, the other two owners who are now shareholders echo Entrecanales’ sentiments. “I have always considered SWS to be a family more than just a shipyard,” one says. “It will be my pleasure and commitment to make sure that SWS continues to be a magnet for innovation, talent, and positivity.” His fellow owner-shareholder adds, “We all have experience as entrepreneurs on an international level, and we will put that pool of experience to work for Southern Wind so that it can continue to build the same seaworthy, elegant, and performing yachts that we know and love.”

“Coming to terms with Willy’s death is a challenge for us,” Marco Alberti says. “But he was an excellent tactician who has left us an example of passion and tenacity and a well-charted course to follow.”

Southern Wind Shipyard builds semi-custom sailing yachts and superyachts to 115 feet (35 meters). These include 52 deliveries, with more than a dozen exceeding 98 feet (30 meters). Persico believed lightweight, fast boats were essential. He also believed in having specialties in house. Therefore, Southern Wind Shipyard is among the few builders worldwide to have nearly every aspect of construction under its control.

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