If the Monaco Yacht Show were a fleet, then the Yacht Club of Monaco (YCM) would be its flagship, and the Commanding Officer at the helm would be YCM General Secretary and Managing Director Bernard d’Alessandri.
‘Helmsman’ d’Alessandri has worked at the Club for close to 50 years and one of the best and unforgettable moments that he can remember was the inauguration of the new club designed by British architect Lord Norman Foster on 20th June 2014.
“The Club is a wonderful ‘device’ that allows us to host exceptional events,” says d’Alessandri. “Twice we have hosted the arrival of the Rolex Giraglia Cup, Mike Horn set off on his around the world sailing trip on board SY Pangaea from here, and we can organise big events such as the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, Monaco Classic Week and next year the J/70 Championships.”
For him, MYS is the Principality’s international showcase, demonstrating that Monaco is the ‘Yachting Capital’ of the world. D’Alessandri reckons that despite the pandemic, the yachting sector has been very active over the last two years and for him the Monaco Yacht Show is a vital market place for yacht owners and shipyards, brokers etc. to meet.
“The Show unites the industry. It gives businesses the opportunity to compare new developments and technologies on the most glamorous of stage sets that Monaco knows how to pull off so well. MYS is all about the ‘Yachting Lifestyle’, not just about the boats,” reflects D’Alessandri.
D’Alessandri considers the YCM as the yachting industry’s core, but it also has a role in promoting the Principality. With its ‘Monaco, Capital of Yachting’ project, the YCM is there to help attract the global yachting industry to Monaco and provide a platform for communication and promotion. ‘The Cluster Yachting Monaco’ initiative now has 1,561 yacht-owning members, while 252 yachting related businesses are based in Monaco with a turnover of 753 million euros. “I think to a large extent the industry is still sometimes misunderstood and it has much to offer in terms of employment for the young,” he says.
More generally, d’Alessandri sees his and the Club’s role as promoting and sharing a passion for the sea. “The sea is in our DNA,” he says. “And any Monaco resident who wants to learn or improve their sailing is more than welcome. During the holidays we offer courses for the children, such as our SeAdventures Camps”.
As MYS draws closer, d’Alessandri is in a reflective mood, telling me: “At the Club, we try and work on different levels to give the industry’s reputation a makeover and change its attitude. We’ve introduced initiatives such as Sea Index, a benchmark or frame of reference aimed at owners of yachts over 40m to measure their CO2 emissions and improve their eco-responsible performance.” He also supports the development of ‘new generation’ marinas that will accommodate the ‘green’ yachts of tomorrow. The Club will support the Smart and Sustainable Marina rendezvous, organised by Monaco Marina Management, that takes place on 20th September.
He adds, “I am also really pleased at how well the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge is developing. The 9th Challenge will take place next year from 5th to 9th July. It has become the show that gives pride of place to new/future propulsion systems. I love the atmosphere at the Challenge which combines speed boat tests with daily tech talks and the exchange of knowledge, conferences and an exhibitor village to discover the progress of sustainability in the maritime sector.”
Close Quarters with Bernard d’Alessandri
If you weren’t MD of the YCM, what would you be?
I’d most definitely be a captain. My passion for the open waters is a real vocation and I can’t imagine a life without the sea.
What’s your advice to someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
There’s only one criteria and that’s passion! With it, you can move mountains and love limitlessly. I am so lucky to be passionate about what I do.
The worst moment in your career?
That still feels a bit too raw to talk about, so I prefer not to say.
The best moment?
Oh, there are so many! I’m thinking about my Monaco-New York Atlantic crossing in 1985 on board Biotonus–Yacht Club de Monaco. Or the first time I set eyes on the YCM Flagship SY Tuiga (1909), and of course the first time I took the helm.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the modest contributions we all make day to day for the future of yachting. Now more than ever we need to build an eco-responsible future.
Someone you admire?
I admire many people, not because of their celebrity but because of their commitment. Dedicated sailors such as Eric Tabarly or the explorer Mike Horn. People of character who are enraptured by a passion for the sea.
Top photo of Bernard d’Alessandri by Francesco Ferri