Luca Santella, the Olympic architect who invents boats never seen before

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He is the inventor of Bluegame, the next-generation boats that are totally far from any traditional known category. The credit for their success goes to Luca Santella, 56 years old, who has summarised the best of many other types of boats within one single motor yacht and put all their functions together. How can we define the Bluegame 42’ – 62’ and the upcoming 70 footer? We’ll use the name coined by the shipyard: Sport Utility Boats. Santella tells us that every buyer finds in this transforming boat the best option for him: a boat perfect to fish, cruise, go for a bath, enjoy long navigations or become a super yacht tender.

We have interviewed Luca Santella to discover the whole story from the beginning and understand how a sailor-architect has made his dream come true to the point that one of his partners today is Sanlorenzo, one of the most important yacht manufacturers in the world.


Where does your passion and knowledge of sea and boats come from?

From afar. I was born near the sea, in Carrara in 1963. I got involved in sailing and I became a well-known sailor. I joined two Olympics in 1988 and 1992 and won several championships traveling all around the world. Meanwhile, I sailed lots of miles under any sea conditions, I saw boats of all sorts, I became a real sailor and absorbed knowledge in every yachting sector.

Meanwhile, you became an architect.. with full marks

Yes, I managed to reconcile my job as a professional sailor with study. I liked drawing shapes and managing spaces. So, I started to design some boats for Uniesse, where my brother Antonio worked. Meanwhile, the idea of something new was in my mind. When did you have the chance to put your ideas into practice? It was thanks to the owner of a sailing maxi yacht I used for my races. I had new ideas and he wanted to own a motorboat that was different from what the market offered. He wanted to use it to go fishing, have short cruises, sunbathe and as a tender for his yacht. So, in 1999, the project of the Luja 55’ was born. I took the project of an old 17-meter boat, I changed it and let a shipyard of Viareggio do the rest. We joined the 2002 Monaco Yacht Show with this boat, the Luja 55’, a boat far from any known traditional shape and with never-seen-before spaces both on and below deck. It could be a flop; instead, it was a great success.

How was the embryo of Bluegame born?

Bluegame was born of an item that intrigued financier and fo mer offshore champion Carlo Bonom. Developing the concepts of the Luja 55’, the first Bluegame – a 47’ footer (14.50 m) – was born. The hull was designed by Lou Codega who had already designed famous yachts and the 68-meter record winner Destriero. The first model was unveiled at the 2005 Cannes Yachting Festival. Six units were sold immediately. 7 years later, the range included a 40’ and a 60’ footer for over 30 units in total. Today, our customers are prestigious sea connoisseurs that want to use boats for different reasons. Among them, the Russian patron of Chelsea Roman Abramovich, Diego della Valle (Tods) and An- drea Dini (Paul&Shark).

And then?

Then boating crisis came and the work slowed down. I started to think about new solutions in order to create the motor yacht of the future.
Meanwhile, your collaboration with Sanlorenzo started… Sanlorenzo has innovation and research in its DNA. It has the courage to propose something new. So, the new SX line was born. I coordinated an excellent team: Piero Lissoni for interiors and Officina Italiana Design for exteriors. Propulsion was completely unusual, with three Volvo Penta IPS 1200 engines that ensure incredible manuevrability on a motor yacht of this size. In 2017, the new SX 88 entered the market. It was a great success, with 35 units built between the SX 88 and her smaller sister, the SX 76 launched in 2018.

If you’ve come this far, it means you’re interested!

Read the full version in the No.7 of Motor Boats

From Friday 10 May at newsstands and available online

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