Sergio Cutolo from Hydro Tec talks to DN: his beginnings, successes and future challenges

Heart and soul of the naval design studio Hydro Tec, Sergio Cutolo talks to us about his career and his next goals

3 March 2024 | by Redazione

Sergio Cutolo – for over 30 years leader of Hydro Tec, one of the few naval design (or “creative naval architecture” as their tagline says) studios to supply integrated services: from paper to external design, concept and engineering – talks to Daily Nautica about his many years of experience, success and innovation, also sharing with us his dream and desire.

How did your passion for the water and boats begin? And what role did your city of birth, Naples, play in that?

Being born in a seaside town certainly leads to having a natural proclivity for water sports and boating in general. And that’s what happened to me: from when I was little I spent my summers on the coast of the Sorrento peninsula, where the family skiff took us on journeys of exploration to places of incredible beauty, like Ieranto, Capri and Li Galli. Then, as a teenager, I discovered sailing as a sport and recreational activity. First on board a Vaurien, Laser and then competing on IOR boats. And then if your city of birth is also the location of one of the three faculties of naval engineering in the country, then, obviously that becomes a part of your life story too.

What was the spirit behind founding Hydro Tec over 25 years ago, and what were your goals at that time? Now that those objectives have likely been reached, what is your next challenge?

After working for 10 years in shipyards, most of which were for pleasure boats, but also in the fast ferry sector, I decided to work globally as a consultant in naval architecture and structural calculation. Over time, the work I did diversified, covering nearly all aspects of technical design as well as exterior design. My next challenge was to consolidate everything I had learned, pushing those aspects tied to design, in order to create a fully integrated design system.

How has Hydro Tec evolved over time, what are its strong points and what advantages does it offer today?

Its evolution has been in both quality and quantity. As I mentioned before, our services have expanded, starting with engineering and extending to design. The size of the business itself has changed, going from a small studio of professionals with 4 or 5 employees to a proper engineering and design firm with around 30 employees and satellite companies working in more specific fields, like detailed engineering and working drawings. There are multiple advantages to our integrated approach. Being able to work with a single representative, who can internally manage all design phases, from concept to delivery, significantly reduces times, risks and costs for shipyards.

Why are explorer yachts, in which Hydro Tec was a pioneer, increasingly widespread? And what are current design trends in this category?

In my opinion the reasons behind the success of explorers, a sector in which we have been leaders for 20 years, are many, but mostly tied to an evolution in lifestyle and an expanding user base. Many “expert” yacht owners are no longer settling for the usual summer destinations, which are increasingly crowded and expensive. They are beginning to prefer more remote locations (with fewer facilities) where a vessel better equipped for longer stays, far from ports or inhabited areas, offers the chance to enjoy nature in peace and in full.

After the beginning, where explorers were based more on working vessels, over the last few years, clients have begun appreciating the possibility of combining some of the characteristics of traditional yachts with these more “tough and pure” vessels. A new generation of yachts is coming into play, which can combine the comfort and flexibility of use of a modern yacht with the characteristics of autonomy, seaworthiness and operational costs of an explorer.

At the last edition of the Monaco Yacht Show, you presented a concept for a very “Mediterranean” catamaran, even if it was very advanced from a technology standpoint: how do you marry this push for innovation with the concept of living life on board as if it were a villa on the water?

Let’s just say that these two things are a consequence of each other: the naval platform needs to be robust, comfortable, and economical in consumption. The design, inspired by the Mediterranean, is a complement.

In your opinion, what future is there for boating, in particular in design and naval engineering? And what role will protecting the environment have, as it has already modified processes and vision in other fields?

Boating is expanding continuously, because the market and destinations are also expanding. In particular, the Italian boating industry is expanding into new areas and markets. Design and technical aspects are increasingly geared to being more environmentally friendly, also because the average age of boat owners is getting lower and the new generation tends to be more attentive to conservation.

And lastly, what is your ideal boat?

The boat I dream of is a new interpretation of a fast explorer, made in two models developed together with Paolo Calliari for the Proteksan Turquoise shipyard. We are in talks which we are hoping will lead to a similar project over the next few years. If your question refers to a more “accessible” dream, then my ideal would be fishing boats from the north east coast of the United States, or an old fisherman. American boats, like their cars, fascinate me: well-performing, practical, and full of tradition.


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