Interview with captain
Martino Motti interview with Gilberto Frola
Where do you come from captain?
I’m Italian more exactly from La Spezia before becoming a citizen of the world that is. I was spurred firstly by passion and then by the nature of my work. I am currently resident in Monaco.
How did you get acquainted with the sea?
Well it’s an ‘inherited’ passion passed on to me by my father who was the first to take me along with him and taught me how to swim, sail, and to love and respect the sea.
I went to nautical college the Nautico Nazario Sauro in La Spezia and then onto complementary courses to qualify for the certificates I needed.
Your earliest memories of the sea and boats?
There are a number of beautiful episodes I remember well, when sailing on a seven metre wooden sloop rig which my father had restored and which to me seemed huge. It was there I learnt the basics and how a wooden hull is built, but also the smell of the earliest resins, paints and much more. It was on that boat that I learnt to sail in along the Gulf of La Spezia.
How was the impact with real work in the true sense?
Well it was something gradual which started with short seasonal periods on yachts some of my friends were working. After a little while a dear friend put me in contact with a captain who was at the time employed by the Agnelli’s and in a nutshell that is how I started out at 23 with my first real job as able seaman on Mr Agnelli’s yacht. This turned out to be a unique experience in which I saw myself catapulted in a whole new world. So I got acquainted with what was the top end of the yachting scene and where I met several people who taught me a lot. I dare say I was lucky to work for luxury yacht owners who made part of yachting history and continue doing so just like the Agnelli’s did, then Armani and currently Del Vecchio and his family.
Your first experiences at sea?
Well I began as able seaman: I can recall the trip from Monfalcone to La Spezia on board of a beautiful 20 metre Schooner designed by Sciarelli. We spent the following three summer months sailing all the Italian islands. The following year I was employed on a fast motor yacht which at the time was unusual. I took the owner and his guests for a swim around Corsica, Marseilles, the French Riviera which was our ‘home port’ at the time.
Preceding experiences as captain?
On a 20 metre Pershing with Arneson drives for three years which belonged to an Italian owner who used for recreational boating; a 24 metre Pershing also with Arneson drives for two years – a charter Yacht, again owned by an Italian; a 35 metre Leopard with Kamewa jets for one year; and for Codecasa shipyards captain for another year. I have been captain on a 62 metre Codecasa since 2014 which belongs to an Italian owner.
Which are this yacht’s main features?
She sports an LOA of 62 metres, a beam of 11.20 with a gross tonnage of 1,192 GT. This yacht is registered in Monaco where we are based. A pair of Cat 1,825 KW engines guarantee a cruising speed of 15.5 knots with a top speed of 19. There’s accommodation for 12 guests in 8 cabins and berths for 15 crew, two galleys, a gym, a pool installed on the upper deck plus all that is needed to cruise extensively without stopping. A real classic jewel which hit the water in2006 from Codecasa a renowned Italian shipyard in Viareggio.
There are several marinas in which I felt really comfortable for instance there’s Porto Lotti and Porto Mirabello in the Gulf of La Spezia then Marina di Loano and naturally Port Hercule in Monaco, where we reside.
It is difficult to say because every place has its own specialities and features but every time we cruise to somewhere new that one becomes the favourite one. I love the Balearic islands with crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches. Where I’m always happy to return to and meet up with a few friends is Sicily, specially the Aeolian islands and the Egadi where the colour of the sea is a cobalt blue which to me is breathtaking and the climate is mild in Spring and even in Autumn.
Which has struck you the most in yachting’s innovations and why?
Most of all the use of composites which allow the building of yachts as never before in terms of lightness and performance. Followed by satellite communication systems which enable you to stay connected and also check out weather forecasts any time in real time which have become dead accurate in the very short term.
Your worst experience as captain?
While sailing on a 24 metre between Palma de Majorca and the Tuscany coast of mount Argentario I had gone as second in command to help out. We hit an Easterly which soon turned into a force 10 with 6 metre steep waves in the middle of the Mediterranean. We did not make it to destination but after three days in precarious conditions and some damage to the yacht we managed to limp back into Spanish waters with considerable risks for the boat. The experience reminded me of how important it is to respect the sea and has taught me to know and recognize the level of experience of the crew you sail with.
What do you think about your role as captain in the world of yachting you work in?
Even if I still consider myself as being still young work-wise, I think I have seen and lived a fair chunk of what yachting has been and has represented in the nineties. There have been changes both in the dimensions of the yachts themselves, in the way we go to sea, as well as in yacht management terms. For example a 40 metre yacht back in the eighties was among the very largest but today it is a little more than a service boat or tender for some, at least by comparison with the megayachts we can see today in our seas. At the same time the role of captain has also changed and it has been flanked by other people in mostly commercial terms. But in my opinion it will forever remain the most beautiful job a lover of the sea can do.