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Refitting: The Art of Giving New Life to a Yacht


Life & Style

Tommaso Spadolini, thanks to his four decades of yacht design experience, is famous for iconic yachts he has designed for high-profile customers such as the King of Spain and fashion designer Roberto Cavalli. But there is another aspect of his work that should not be considered less complex or rewarding: refitting projects.

“The refitting market has grown steadily and we have followed at least one major refitting project a year, as well as many smaller works, ” says the designer. “A successful refitting obviously requires an understanding of the owner’s wishes. But it also implies awareness of what the original designer was trying to achieve. More than a science, it is an art that requires knowledge, experience and respect towards the history of yacht design.”

Four important yacht projects by Tommaso Spadolini, all carried out by the CARM shipyards of Lavagna, reveal a few secrets to the delicate art of yacht refitting.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Gigagi — a Magnum 70 with elegant lines designed by Pininfarina — was built in the mid 1990s and appeared tired when its owners, a young couple with three children who used it as a day boat on the French Riviera, contacted Spadolini with the intention to carry out a refitting operation.

Very little was saved from the old boat, in addition to the hull and Arneson transmissions, which were dismantled and refurbished. But the biggest changes were to the interior:

“The original layout included three small cabins and furniture that had been damaged, so I proposed to completely redesign the interior,” says Spadolini. “We have enlarged the living room and moved the owner’s suite up front to gain the space needed to get a bigger bathroom. To do this we had to move the bulkheads and redesign the portholes in the hull. Finally, we paid great attention to lighting, with a sophisticated automated system.”

The new design has ensured a great feeling of space and light, enhanced by the introduction of contrasting materials such as brushed white oak, polished mahogany and polished nickel details.

All in Family

Cujo is a classic Baglietto of 20 meters built in wood, which the owner holds in Sardinia and that belongs to the same family for almost 30 years.

“The challenge was the fact that it was almost a family heirloom,” explains Spadolini. “The original boat had no sundeck, bimini and other features considered essential today, so we had to make substantial changes to the exterior and interior without losing the classic Baglietto charm.”

In addition to carefully adding new exterior features, including a carbon fiber bathing platform that could accommodate the tender, Spadolini refreshed the deck décor to make it current while retaining some original elements such as aluminum details.


Designed by Franco Anselmi Boretti, one of the great masters of classic design, Virginian (now Lady Stella) is a 20-meter sail that was built in the Netherlands (the project is from 1987). Between 2015 and 2016, it was subjected to mechanical and aesthetic refitting, in two different phases, so that the owners did not have to lose the summer season.

“A problem concerned the owner’s cabin, where a rather small bed was placed against the hull and therefore uncomfortable for a couple,” says Spadolini. “His young owners wanted something more modern and comfortable, so we moved the surrounding bulkheads and made a double bed around which it was possible to move.”

What a Light It Is

The yacht was sold at the end of 2016 and its new owners appreciated the quality of the refitting works so much that they planned further modifications for the coming winter.

A2 (ex-Madhuri) is a 38-meter motoryacht built by Eurocraft in 2008. It was a challenging project because its owner wanted significant changes on the outside and inside and had given the refit team only six months to complete the job.

“Although he often sailed with charter boats, it was the first yacht that the customer bought,” explains Spadolini. “The owner’s request was about light and space, but the original boat had no hull windows and was built with a very traditional layout.”

Windows have been created in the hull (which required a new certification) and the layout has been totally revised with a large open space lounge on the main deck and three comfortable cabins. A cabin for the commander, a laundry and two extremely quiet Seakeeper stabilizers have also been added.

In the interiors, Spadolini worked closely with Peter Marino, the famous New York architect, who had previously worked with the owners.

“While Peter chose all the materials and fabrics, fixtures and furnishings, we made sure that his proposals could be integrated on board,” explains Spadolini. “After the delivery and after spending three weeks on board last August, the owners said it was the best family vacation they had ever done: music to a designer’s ears!”

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Refitting: The Art of Giving New Life to a Yacht

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