In 1963, founder Sanzio Nicolini boldly embarked on a challenging journey of adventure. His cutting-edge approach – building high-end luxury yachts in steel and aluminium for a demanding, select clientele – has borne considerable fruit. In the ’60s, CRN yachts ranged from 15 to 20 metres in length, sporting an instantly recognisable design. The first 23-metre project, Super Conero, led to ever larger, more prestigious vessels built in partnership with major designers who helped to forge CRN’s international reputation.
In the ’70s, CRN yachts’ signature lines became a leitmotif that has endured to the present day. The boats continued inexorably to grow, often anticipating the needs of an increasingly complex market. Sanzio Nicolini and Carlo Riva began to collaborate to great effect. Between 1970 and 1978, CRN also built eight vessels for Riva: six Marco Polos, inspired by the Super Conero, and two Vespuccis, one of which became Carlo Riva’s personal yacht. This partnership between the two great innovators, Nicolini and Riva, was a key moment for their companies and for the Italian pleasure-yacht industry in general. In 1978, CRN built its first yacht of over 45 metres: the 47.2-m Fath Al Khair, for an emir in the Middle East. This was an outlet that continued to develop in the following decade.
CRN’s clients in the '80s were mostly Greek owners and Middle Eastern royalty, who sought increasingly large yachts, now ranging from 32 to 61 metres in length. 1983 was a pivotal time in CRN’s history. This was the year when CRN built and delivered the M/Y F100, a 32.8-metre yacht designed by Gerhard Gilgenast for Gianni Agnelli, head of the famous Italian car-making dynasty. F100 was also the first explorer yacht in the yachting world. Another milestone during these years was the 47-metre Azzurra, constructed for an American client in 1988 with interiors by the designer Paola Smith, a major name in interior design stateside.
CRN’s clients were mostly from the Middle East, a region that had entered a period of unprecedented turmoil, starting with the Gulf War as the decade dawned. CRN elected to diversify its operations to include refitting and the purely commercial side. Vessels of considerable size were launched, including Awal II (65 metres, 1990), Maracunda (50 metres, 1990), Lady Anne PB (40 metres, 1994), Pegaso (48 metres, 1996), Sahab IV (50 metres, 1997), Pestifer (50 metres, 1998) and Numptia (61 metres, 2000), the last craft to be made by CRN during this decade, coinciding with the change in ownership that was bound to alter the Shipyard’s destiny. Numptia featured a decidedly ‘rounded stern, designed by CRN in cooperation with Studio Scanu, which made it immediately famous throughout the world.
In 2002 CRN reached a new milestone which would further enhance its know-how and production capacity: the acquisition of the adjacent shipyard Mario Morini, a historical name in shipbuilding. Morini’s experience in steel construction, gained through its production of commercial, merchant and military vessels, perfectly matched CRN’s needs and the union between the two shipyards led to the creation of an impressive operation with an 80-thousand-square-metre site with a large private marine andbecoming one of the largest shipyard in Europe.
In this step CRN has further expanded its portfolio and diversified its production, to combine its traditional steel and aluminium vessels with new composite ones. And it was so that CRN’s successful composite megayacht lines 128’ (40 metres) and Navetta 43 (43 metres) were born.
Up to five pleasure vessels were now being launched every year and CRN’s fleet was growing fast, together with its fame. Kooilust Mare (2003) and Saramour (2005) were two 46-metre yachts inspired by Magnifica, once again designed by Nuvolari & Lenard, and the idea of ‘fully-custom’ megayachts, built on the same naval platform, was now beginning to take on.
It was then that the cooperation with architectural firm Zuccon International Project began, the first result of which was 54m Ability in 2006. Other yachts built in the following years included Givi (60 metres – in 2007), Maraya (54 metres – in 2007), Romance (57 metres - in 2008), Tacanuyaso MS (60 metres – in 2008), Blue Eyes (60 metres – in 2009), Mimtee (60 metres – in 2010) and Darlings Danama (60 metres – in 2011).
In 1983, CRN delivered the F100, a 32.8-metre yacht designed by Gerhard Gilgenast for Gianni Agnelli, head of the famous Italian car-making dynasty. It was an adventure that
defined CRN’s future and gave the company huge impetus. The F100 was the most advanced vessel that the yard had yet built; she foreshadowed a type of yacht that would be all the rage twenty years later. Her unmistakable svelte lines by Gilgenast helped to launch the “minimalist” movement in contemporary yacht design. She was an extremely robust, comfortable craft well-suited to long cruises in all weathers, the first yacht with floating rubber supports for a delightfully quiet ride. This was also the first explorer yacht. The F100’s groundbreaking design would prove inspirational, paving the way for many others to follow.