An incredible celebration for the return of Tirrenia II

On June 8th Tirrenia II, a sailing yacht built 105 years ago in England, was launched at the Francesco Del Carlo yard in Viareggio. 

A unique launch that will become part of international yachting history. Hundreds came to witness the return of one of the Mediterranean’s most elegant vintage yachts. An extract from “Moby Dick” was read by Alessandro Preziosi, the well known Italian actor. The party continued with a gala at the Principino with the actor Roberto Farnesi and Beatrice Venezi, the famous orchestra director and patron for Tirrenia’s launch.

Saturday June 8th 2019 has become a date for the annals of international yachting. The yacht Tirrenia II, designed by Frederick Shepherd and built in 1914 by the H.R. Stevens yard in Southampton, tens years after her last cruise and following a three year refit at the Francesco Del Carlo yard, sails again. After 105 years of sailing in northern Europe, the Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean, the 18.54 meter gaff rigged ketch’s new owners will continue to show her in the numerous classic yachting events held in the Mediterranean’s most beautiful venues. Tirrenia’s return was celebrated in a breathtaking ceremony held in Viareggio.

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Starting at 5pm, well-wishers and guests began to arrive at the Francesco Del Carlo yard in Viareggio’s Darsena Italia to witness the return of Tirrenia II to her native element. As was proper, the ceremony was directed by Beatrice Venezi, the famous orchestra director and patron for Tirrenia’s launch. An excerpt from Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” was read by special guest Alessandro Preziosi, the unforgettable protagonist of the TV series “Elisa di Rivombrosa”, with numerous roles in theater from Shakespeare to Moliere and many successful films to his credit. Immediately preceding the launch, the spectacle continued with the Viareggio’s favorite dancer Eleonora Di Vita performing an incredible number suspended between Tirrenia’s two masts. Closing remarks were given by the owner and her project manager Enrico “Chicco” Zaccagni. Peter Jespersen from Norway, Tirrenia’s owner during the 1980’s, presented the owners with the original ship’s bell. Alberto Scuro, president of the Italian Historic Motor Club (ASI), also attended. After Don Luigi Pellegrini blessed the yacht, the traditional rite of good fortune was successful with the shattered bottle at the first blow on Tirrenia’s bow and the first touch of water to her keel after ten long years.

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That evening on Viareggio’s ocean boulevard, the Principino Restaurant hosted the gala for 130 special guests, and included owners and crew of several of the Pier Maria Gibellini led Riva Historical Society’s powerboats. Nothing was left to chance for Tirrenia II’s return to the sea. The guests were accompanied by period dressed characters to their table, each with it’s own nautical theme: boom, anchor, topping lift, porthole... Two maxi-screens were filled with images of Tirrenia II taken by Carlo Borlenghi and James Robinson Taylor and a video of the refit by Paolo Maccione. Paolo is editor of “Barche d’Epoca e Classiche” and filmed her three years in the yard. Other guests were Roberto Farnesi, the actor known as the king of fiction for his roles in “Solo per amore”, “Colpo di fulmine”, “Il paradiso delle signore” and many other TV series; the Port of Viareggio’s harbormaster Commander Giovanni Calvelli; the president of the Club Nautico Versilia Roberto Brunetti; and Angelo Bonati, ex-Ceo of Officine Panerai, sponsors of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge and the restoration of Eilean (1936) in the Del Carlo yard.

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The superlative evening at the Principino was enlivened with synchronized swimming by Aquatica’s Sincronettes from Massarosa, with choreography by Katiuscia Guidi e Cristiana Canova. Eleonora Di Vita returned with a contemporary dance performance with a recital by Roberto Farnesi of a text dedicated to Tirrenia II by Leonardo Castellucci. Other scenographic effects included images of the yacht projected on a wall of falling water with the nighttime background of the sea and Charleston dancing with Ivy and the Bounce Band playing music from the 1920’s. A unique evening lasting the night through and overflowing with happenings: before cutting the cake and obviously toasting with Italian spumante Ferrari, the announcement was made of the rebirth of the Tirrenia II Cup. Inaugurated in 1925 by Guido Fiorentino, president of the Italian Royal yacht Club of Naples, until 1939 the Cup was awarded each year to the yacht that had undertaken the longest cruise in the Mediterranean. Seventy years later, at the October edition of the Vele Storiche Viareggio, the Tirrenia II Cup will be awarded once again, encouraging long voyages by the most beautiful yachts across the Mediterranean. Lorenza Fiorentino, great-granddaughter of Guido Fiorentino, was also present. At the end of the evening, all the ladies were presented with a copy of the book by Commander Flavio Serafini, “Vela Interiors”, which includes a history of Tirrenia II.

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Tirrenia II will participate in many of the most important gatherings of classic yachts in the Mediterranean. Every year, from April to October in costal venues along the French, Spanish and Italian coasts, some of the most beautiful events specifically for classic yachts are held, and the newly restored Tirrenia II is eagerly awaited. Her new skipper will be Lucia Pozzo, a vastly experienced sailor with a circumnavigation under her belt and a writer to boot. Lucia, after assisting in the refit, will be returning to Tirrenia II as she was her skipper in the early 1990’s after Tirrenia’s arrival in Italy from the Caribbean.