The prominent Italian luxury yacht builder, CRN, is celebrating a half a century of success this year. The company originally established under the name ‘Costruzioni e Riparazioni Navali’ by the entrepreneur Sanzio Nicolini in Ancona in 1963. This name led to the acronym CRN, under which the yard is well known all over the world today.
The fifty years of CRN make a fascinating, and in many ways symbolic, story that alternates between surprising ideas, great successes and even difficult moments, combining the talent of man, business skills and passion for the products in this sector, luxury boating, writing memorable pages for the modern Italian industry.
Going through its main stages can help understand why calling it “legendary” is not an exaggeration.
(1963 – 1970) The beginning: technology, luxury, prestige
In 1963 Sanzio Nicolini started building some yachts in Ancona in the old warehouse that dates back to the Second World War.
The first “line” of 23 metre hulls known as “Super Conero” was built, followed by even larger and more prestigious boats, made in collaboration with important designers, who would help to establish the Shipyard internationally.
Besides the Super Conero, in a very prolific decade (a total of 27 boats produced), there was the 21 metre Papo in 1966, and the six Micoperi, hulls between 10 and 14.5 metres which left the Shipyard between 1965 and 1968.
(1970 – 1978) The growth and the collaboration with Carlo Riva
When Sanzio Nicolini met Carlo Riva, founder of the legendary Sarnico shipyard, a long and fruitful relationship began, lasting from 1970 until 1978. During this time CRN built eight boats for Riva: six Marco Polo, derived from Super Conero, and two Vespucci, one of which became the personal yacht of Carlo Riva.
Some of the most important yachts of that time are really beautiful, such as luxury yacht Sarita-Si (ex Bagheera) (38 metres in 1973), superyacht Active Gazella (ex Gazella) (31 metres in 1974), Moneikos (35 metres in 1976), superyacht Lady Eva (ex Caribe III) (35 metres in 1979) and motor yacht Parvati (ex Santa Cruz Tres) (36 metres in 1979). In addition, in 1978 CRN made its first over 45 metre megayacht: motor yacht Oceanstar (ex Fath Al Khair) of 47.2 metres, whose Owner was the Emir of Qatar, Al-Thani.
(1980 – 1989) – New clients, larger and larger boats: F100 and Azzurra
In the eighties, the clients of CRN were mainly Greek owners, since the country is historically well linked to Ancona, and ruling families in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, attracted both by the quality of the Shipyard and the discretion with which CRN handles negotiations and the subsequent delivery of the yachts.
The dimensions of the vessels grew, and by a lot, varying from between 32 and 61 metres. Among these is the Awal (47 metres in 1980), superyacht Shaf (ex Akitou) (52 metres in 1981), Santa Maria (53 metres in 1984), luxury yacht Tawam (ex Vanina) (32 metres in 1986) and Abdulaziz (45 metres in 1987).
1983 was an important year in the history of CRN since it coincided with the delivery of a very innovative ship for a passionate Owner with very personal tastes: “the lawyer” Gianni Agnelli, head of Fiat.
The megayacht is called F100 yacht, and its design – which bears the name of the naval architect Gerhard Gilgenast – is unmistakable, an example of a strictly marine and comfortable vessel, designed for long journeys in any kind of weather conditions. Its profile is far away from the idea of classic luxury and for this reason it was defined as being “almost monastic”. This is how the first Explorer of luxury boating was created.
Another decisive stage was the realization of the 47m superyacht Azzurra II (ex Azzurra), in 1988, for the Owner Edward Sacks, an American client, who asked CRN to build a new megayacht on the suggestion of Gilgenast himself, and, therefore, the Azzurra also bears his signature. The interiors were created by Paola Smith, a leading name in the United States for interior design, and the megayacht was an international success, as the figures on the market of the charter show: Azzurra was hired for 100 thousand dollars per week, a high amount for that time.
Other yachts from the eighties include the Jameel yacht, 44 m in 1985, and mega yacht Il Vagabondo, 61 metres in 1986, which are real icons of exclusivity, with characteristics and solutions of more traditional luxury.
(1990 – 1999) Diversification and difficulties
The Owners decided to diversify the activities of the Shipyard, extending it to refitting and the exclusively commercial part, while production slowed down, with seven megayachts launched in ten years, despite their significant sizes.
This included the mega yacht Alwaeli (ex Awal II) (65 metres in 1990), superyacht Maracunda (50 metres in 1990), Lady Anne PB (40 metres in 1994), luxury yacht Kanaloa (ex Pegaso) (48 metres in 1996), Sahab IV yacht (50 metres in 1997), superyacht Pestifer (50 metres in 1998) and Numptia (61 metres in 2000), the last one realized by CRN in those ten years, just before the ownership of the Shipyard changed, changing its destiny.
(1999 – 2002) Joining the Ferretti Group
In 1999, the CRN shipyard was purchased by the Ferretti Group, which was among the international leaders in motoryacht designing, building and marketing, with a unique portfolio of exclusive brands in the nautical world including Ferretti Yachts, Riva, Itama, Mochi Craft, Bertram Yacht, Pershing and Custom Line.
The first step of this new phase of CRN was charter yacht Magenta M (ex Magnifica), a splendid 43 metre megayacht designed by Nuvolari & Lenard and launched in 2001, the first of a very successful range.
(2002 – 2013) In Ancona, one of the largest European nautical poles
In 2002 CRN reached a new goal which further strengthened its know-how and productive capacity by purchasing the adjacent shipyard Mario Morini, a historical name in ship building.
The launching of unique and innovative vessels followed one after the other, reaching five a year, and the CRN fleet grew rapidly, as well as in popularity. Superyacht Clarena (ex Kooilust Mare) from 2003 and luxury yacht Saramour from 2005 are two 46 metre maxiyachts inspired by Magnifica, also designed by Nuvolari & Lenard, while the concept of “fully customized” megayachts was being introduced, built on the same naval platform.
This is also how the collaboration with the Studio Zuccon International Project started. The first concrete result was the 54m charter yacht Ability in 2006. In the following years it was the turn of mega yacht Givi (60 metres in 2007), charter yacht Maraya (54 metres in 2007), superyacht Romance (57 metres in 2008), mega yacht MS (ex Tacanuyaso MS) (60 meters in 2008), superyacht Blue Eyes London (ex Blue Eyes) (60 metres in 2009), Mimtee yacht (60 metres in 2010).
Nuvolari & Lenard collaborated once again with CRN to build the splendid mega yacht Azteca (2010), ex Clarena II, whose length of 72metres was a record.
In the second half of the decade, CRN expanded its portfolio and diversified its production by adding vessels made of composite to its traditional steel and aluminum ones.
This is how the two fortunate megayacht lines 128 of 40 metres and Navetta 43, of 43 metres, started, reaching a total of six and eight vessels, respectively, produced between 2004 and 2013, achieving great success among owners who appreciated their timeless lines, adaptability and the complete personalization of the interiors.
In January 2012, the Ferretti Group was acquired by SHIG-Gruppo Weichai, which invested a total of 374 million euro becoming the majority stakeholder, guaranteeing a share of 75%. CRN, like all the brands of the group, became involved in the passage to the new Chinese owner, maintaining its strong identity and historical name. Lamberto Tacoli was confirmed chairman and was appointed CEO of the shipyard.
Among CRN’s most recent launchings is the 60 m mega yacht J’Ade (2012), and the Navetta 43 yacht Lady Genyr (2013) that were surprising for their interiors and innovative solutions, such as the floodable garage for the tender, with a beach area and a combined saloon, realized on J’Ade, internationally unique for this type of vessel.
Twelve months after the transition to the new owners, on January 12th 2013 at the beginning of the year in which it is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, the Shipyard launched its one hundred twentieth megayacht, the 80 metre mega yacht Chopi Chopi, that became the biggest vessel ever built by CRN in its half a century of history. It is was a double important moment for the company and the entire Italian yachting industry, as it gathered in Ancona to celebrate, together with more than 4,000 citizens to watch the spectacular launching ceremony open to the public.
Today CRN looks at the next 50 years with the intention of remaining focused on two fundamental elements: the client and the product, giving particular attention to the historical values of the brand such as attention to the client, adaptability, tradition, reliability, design, craftsmanship and the Made in Italy.
At the moment, 5 steel and aluminium megayachts of the CRN brand are being manufactured at the Ancona shipyard – mega yacht CRN 131 of 74 m (designed by Zuccon International Project), CRN 132 of 73 m (designed by Omega Architects), CRN 133 yacht of 60 m (designed by Francesco Paszkowski Design), CRN 134 of 55m (designed by Nuvolari & Lenard) – and a CRN Navetta 43 of 43 m Lady Genyr made of composite.
Among the new projects, there is a 40 metre megayacht made of steel and aluminum and a 52 m “Classic” with more traditional lines, both designed by Zuccon International Project.