|A Change of Course|
Part 2: The acquisition and the collaboration with Nuvolari & Lenard have created true cross-fertilization.
By Richard Thiel — March 2003
The collaboration proved an immediate success, so much so that Carver began investigating the possibility of incorporating European construction techniques, European-sourced equipment like door and plumbing hardware, and fine joinery detail into the boat. At the same time, Van told the design firm to begin work on a larger version and asked for suggestions on how existing models--not just the Voyagers but all Carvers--could be upgraded.
Seeing how eager Carver was to learn from Italian boatbuilders, Nuvolari & Lenard made a bold proposal. Mochi Craft, for whom it had designed 19-, 22.5-, and 25-meter yachts (about 63, 75, and 85 feet, respectively), was about to be purchased by the Ferretti Group, which was interested in Mochi's boatbuilding plants. Why not buy the designs and related tooling and manufacture boats in Italy for the European market? Such a move would make Carver unique among American production boatbuilders, give it ready access to Italian suppliers and craftsmen, and establish a foothold in Europe. Indeed, it would represent a reversal of the current trend of Europeans bringing boats to U.S. shores.
Despite the fact that that the three boats' proportions and layouts (i.e., galley down, large Med-style aft deck, comparatively small crew quarters) made them less than ideal for the U.S. market, Carver felt the arrangement offered so many advantages that it made the deal and shortly thereafter constructed a plant just outside Fano, Italy, which today it shares with Dominator, another Italian builder. Van is quick to point out that the operation bears little resemblance to Carver's home facility in Wisconsin. "This is a totally different culture over here," he says. "It's not mass production like we do, but true semicustom work, which we're not used to. We're here to learn how to do it." The first of the new Nuvari line, the 19-meter, has successfully completed sea trials in the Mediterranean, and production models are being displayed at major European boat shows. Nuvaris will be sold in Europe through Carver's existing sales network.
The acquisition and the collaboration with Nuvolari & Lenard have created true cross-fertilization, with knowledge and expertise traveling in both directions. Take the molds for the 59, for example. To accommodate the complex curves and shapes specified by Nuvolari & Lenard, they involve a number of bolt-on components that can be removed so the final piece can be extracted. The Italians showed Carver how to make such molds, and Carver showed the Italians how to attach those components to an external framework so that when removed, they wouldn't simply drop onto the shop floor and have to be realigned later. Instead, the mold now opens like a multidimensional mechanical eggshell.
This article originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.