Oceanco’s sales director talks to Daily Nautica: “This is how the Black Pearl, a 107-metre sailing yacht, was created”

Daily Nautica Interviews Antonio Caviglia, sales director for the Dutch shipyard, Oceanco. A voyage between research and sustainability from one of the most important builders of mega yachts in the industry

16 March 2022 | by Redazione
The mega yacht, Jubilee, in dry dock

Fully respecting the needs of their clients, and working hard in research and sustainability. The Oceanco shipyard is one of the most consolidated in the world in the construction of mega yachts.  Presenting the shipyard in this interview is Antonio Caviglia, sales director for the Dutch shipyard, who shares with us the beginning, growth and present of Oceanco.

Oceanco is a success story, full of surprises and information. Like the time when a client asked to be able to cross the entire Atlantic Ocean without using any fuel. Not only was his request fulfilled, but it led to the creation of the Black Pearl, a splendid 107-metre sailing yacht.


When Oceanco was started, what were the expectations?  Up to what point did you think you would grow?

Oceanco was founded in the 1980s by a group of South African entrepreneurs who had a vision for a business that would speculatively build high-quality yachts that could not be found elsewhere. Over the following three decades, Oceanco evolved to become arguably the most daring brand in yacht building today. This included two changes in ownership and a shift in the business model to exclusively build fully custom superyachts over 80m for clients, rather than speculatively. The people leading the company today might be different from those first entrepreneurs who visualized a new way of doing things, but they still embody a pioneering spirit and demand for excellence. This approach starts from the very top, with our Chairman Dr Mohammad al Barwani, and our Board.

You have produced some of the most beautiful yachts in the world. Every project is unique. How is one of your yachts brought to life? How does the interaction between owners and designers work?

It all starts from an owner’s vision of what his or her perfect yacht should be. We focus first on listening to their desires and requirements and then shape a full-custom design that actually exceeds the expectations when it is finally built. During the first part of the process, which we call Design Development, we review the owner’s wishes in a very open and collaborative approach, define the best direction, eliminate the risks and then engineer the solutions.

The development phase requires a significant investment from the builder, in order to produce a comprehensive, viable yacht design, with the technical specification and general arrangement fully completed. This first involves multiple creative brainstorming sessions between the builder, client and designers (both interior and exterior, in-house or external), followed by viability assessments from the naval architects and engineers. Then the builder verifies the design is up to its own technical and quality standards before it is presented to the client to be signed off.

There is often a lot of back and forth between the designers, naval architects and builder in the development phase to come to a final design, known as the pre-engineering. To give an idea of the builder’s investment in the development phase, there can be upwards of 25 professionals working on a single project, eight hours a day, for over a year. Once this process is complete, the exterior designers’ work is mostly done, though they often continue to be involved on a consulting level.

What was the most bizarre request from an Owner that you had to realize?

Bizarre is not a word we would use; instead challenging might be more appropriate. The most challenging request Oceanco has received was from the visionary owner of S/Y Black Pearl: He wanted a yacht that could cross the Atlantic without the need to use any fuel. The extraordinary result was the creation of a 107m sailing yacht with three Dynarig masts and a hybrid propulsion system featuring a regenerative function that can indeed cover the entire hotel load of the yacht, without the need for fuel, when under sail power. Furthermore, Black Pearl’s masts are pre-wired to be able to connect flexible solar panels in substitution of her 2,900sqm of sails to generate additional electrical power that can be stored in the onboard battery storage system. In practically every aspect of her creation, Black Pearl was a game changer and a pioneer. We had to search outside of the yachting industry to find answers to our questions. It pushed us and challenged us, and we are so proud of what was achieved in this landmark project.

Regarding Owners, where do your owners come from?

We are fortunate enough to have clients who hail from all over the world, from North America to Europe to Asia. They are normally industry leaders in their own fields and never afraid to push the boundaries of innovation.

Your yachts, besides being iconic, have introduced some innovative solutions.  With Alfa Nero, for example, we saw the first infinity pool that converts into a helipad and dance floor.  How do these solutions come about?  Desire to marvel people or requests by the Owner?

At Oceanco, it’s not about us, it’s all about our clients. We embrace collaboration, openness and partnership while checking our ego at the door. Generally the innovations that you see on our yachts are triggered by an owner’s inspiration of what he or she would like from their yacht (whether that is a fully formed vision or simply a notion of how they want to feel onboard). We then work with designers and engineers to materialize these visions or desires into fully functioning solutions. Whether it is Alfa Nero’s infinity pool, Black Pearl’s regenerative power function, or Bravo Eugenia’s LIFE Design that delivers a 30% reduction in fuel consumption, they are all solutions driven by their owners’ visions which are then interpreted and enabled by designers and engineers from within the Oceanco team and our valued partners, as well as our Co-maker Unlimited cohort of suppliers.

Antonio Caviglia, sales director for Oceanco

Oceanco dedicates a lot of attention to sustainability.  Today what are the solutions that make a yacht of over 100m a friend of the environment?

We could go on for hours to describe all of the various technologies that we could incorporate into a yacht to make it more sustainable. Of course, the most sustainable yacht we have created is Black Pearl, but not all owners will want to go down that exact pathway in terms of design and technology.

On our motor yachts, we typically incorporate heat recapture systems to redirect the heat energy given off by gensets to warm the water of the swimming pools onboard. We also install peak shaving energy storage systems to optimize the utilization of gensets and reduce both energy consumption and maintenance requirements. Our HVAC systems have become smarter and can sense the presence of guests in cabins to adjust the temperature accordingly and thereby reduce the hotel load. Insulated glass helps us reduce the heat and radiation penetrating from the external environment to reduce the HVAC power required to maintain cooled interiors on hot summer days.

And of course, a lot of work goes into our naval architecture to design ever more efficient hull shapes that require less power – and therefore consume less fuel – to achieve the same speeds, as in the example of Bravo Eugenia’s LIFE Design achieving an outstanding 30% reduction in fuel consumption compared to similarly sized conventional yachts.

Among your concepts you have one that is more futuristics than others:  KAIROS. In the project of this 90m yacht, you also have a piece of Italy, with the signature of Pininfarina. What is your link with Italy?

Over the company’s 34-year history, Oceanco has enjoyed working with numerous revered Italian designers, and we particularly thrive on working with partners from outside the traditional yachting industry to incorporate new ideas and new solutions to problems. Pininfarina’s renowned expertise in automotive and industrial design allowed us to revisit life onboard a superyacht with the KAIROS concept – it was an outstanding collaboration.

KAIROS is a new kind of living space that allows an owner and their guests to connect, share and create by synchronously experiencing multiple environments onboard. It offers 90 meters of onboard life without boundaries, created in harmony with Oceanco’s NXT initiative on sustainability and innovation. A 360-degree approach to design at once connects you to the sea below, to the light above and to the spaces and people beside you.

The yacht’s exterior has been shaped to evoke a peaceful oasis in which to relax and enjoy time on your own terms. Like a floating, living island, KAIROS has a symmetrical profile with no ‘forward’ direction to aim towards. This elimination of momentum frees those onboard to live fully in the moment, without the sense of urgency to move to a new destination.

The heart of life onboard is the vast, theatrical piazza, to which all entry points of KAIROS lead. Vertically developed across three levels, the piazza breaks from the canons of conventional yacht design. Intricate design combines stunning asymmetric shapes, transparent structures and a lack of physical barriers, influenced by the contrasting, multidimensional landscapes that exist in our daily lives. It is a captivating space in which to share inspiring moments, conveying a sense of liberty and joy.

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