Pedrazzini – Boat design that reflects glamorous sophistication



Over one hundred years ago, founder Augusto Pedrazzini established a boatyard on the shores of Lake Zurich, Switzerland, and started constructing sleek crafts that were to become increasingly renowned and internationally sought after. An Italian immigrant, it was Augusto’s boat that won the first Zurich Outboard Regatta in 1928. The two following generations followed in his wake, and, next in line, Augusto’s great-grandson, is also determined to become a boatbuilder.

Despite the name of their most famous model, the Capri Super Deluxe, you do not have to travel to Capri to behold the magnificent sight of a Pedrazzini craft skimming over the waves. The Capri, first produced in the mid 20th century, still inspires the design of contemporary motorboats today. Pedrazzini’s exclusive vessels have their admirers everywhere; small wonder, we realize upon seeing one of these rare crafts cutting through the blue waters of Lake Zurich in consummate mahogany perfection on a sunny day. It is a truly uplifting sight that has even the elegant white swans turning their heads to take a second look.

For those who have cash to spare – depending on the model, prices can reach CHF 650’000 – and seek something distinct, the Yacht- und Bootswerft Pedrazzini, Pedrazzini’s yacht and boatyard, in the village of Bäch may have something to offer. The location alone constitutes an extremely picturesque Unique Selling Proposition.

Bäch was once famed in the region for its now all-but-forgotten Carnival celebrations, the Bächer Fastnacht. While the town no longer woos visitors from afar for this event, its boatbuilding yard does attract constant interest. The floating gems that are crafted here, each taking up to nine months to finish, never seem to grace the showroom for long. Present-day padrone Claudio Pedrazzini’s office is small, but exquisitely furnished. Next to a couple of design magazines displayed on an inlaid mahogany table lies a hefty publication featuring gadgets, “Toys for Boys” (from the publisher teNeues), that catches the eye.

A hunch arises that boating must be more of a man thing, even though the all-time most famous private yacht was the “Christina O”: The vessel that was the society venue of the mid 20th century. Where Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy first met. Which carried the likes of Eva Perón and Maria Callas. And where it is reported champagne flowed in rivers on the event of Rainier III and Grace Kelly’s wedding celebration.

The difference between a boat and a yacht is simply the size. Everything under 12 meters is a boat, the rest are yachts.

But then size is not everything and is no guarantee for a happy ending. The fate of Christina Onassis, John F. Kennedy, Grace Kelly or La Divina Maria Callas speaks for itself.

Pedrazzini’s domestic and international clientele favor the boatbuilder’s smaller sports crafts, so-called runabouts. Clients, themselves often extremely successful players in the business world, delight in engaging in water sports with these powerful and timelessly classy motorboats. The term runabout, an expression also applied to cars, especially vintage automobiles, prompts us to ask whether an old-timer market exists for motorboats as well.

Back in 1965, our boats cost between 30’000 and 50’000 Swiss francs. We just overhauled one of these crafts to put back on the market and expect it to go for about 100’000.

The Pedrazzini’s success story does not have a seafaring backdrop, but begins in inland Italy. In the year 1906, Augusto Pedrazzini, grandfather of the present director, came from Lago di Como, Italy, to Switzerland where he found employment in a boatyard in Zurich. He started his first boatbuilding yard in 1914 in Wollishofen, a district of Zurich, where he initially built fishing boats and rowboats, eventually going on to construct sailboats and yachts. In the year 1929, he moved to Bäch where he constructed a house and a boatbuilding yard. Augusto and his oldest son, Ferrucio, retained their Italian citizenship as by Italian law dual-citizenship was not eligible for Italian citizens until 1992. Augusto’s grandson, the present director, is therefore the first Pedrazzini to take on Swiss nationality.

Like his father, Claudio accomplished a four-year apprenticeship, a combination of vocational schooling and on-site training, to become a boat builder. The final tweaks are learnt on the job, and certain skills such as working the brass fittings take years to master.

In Switzerland there are two schools for boatbuilders. One in Lucerne for the German-speaking part of Switzerland and one in Lausanne for the French-speaking part. In Lucerne, which caters to our region, about 15 new apprentices begin to learn the trade each year.

After experimenting in the past with other materials, Pedrazzini has returned to using that traditional and supremely elegant natural resource – wood – for the past several decades. Mahogany is their prime material, with teak coming in a distant second. As it is used in every step of the boat building process, an abundance of wood in all shapes and sizes can be found in the workshop. A hull on a trestle, stacks of planks, and a profusion of unfathomable bits and pieces of wood are piled next to mighty steel propellers. Yet calm reigns in the workshop – apparently everything has its proper order and the craftsmen work deftly in quiet concentration.

Mahogany is a wood that grows in large, straight trunks. It is not too hard and not too soft, which makes it wonderful for handcrafting. Color-wise, is it probably the most beautiful of woods, and it varnishes easily. Teak wood, with a higher percentage of natural oils, is much harder to varnish. Over the years, Pedrazzini has consistently found mahogany to be the best wood for the job.

When we asked which engine suits which boat best, Claudio Pedrazzini draws a comparison to a sports car aficionado.

Some people buy a Maserati and don’t care about the engine, others buy one because, to them, it is the most powerful car and they love the sound of the engine. Our customers want smooth handling at all times.

Quite clearly, Claudio is a tar at heart and not a fast-car buff. Around the globe, connoisseurs of beautiful boats thank him for this.

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Comments (1) | 30.08.2012

That's a good post.


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