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Carlo Sciarrelli’s Biography

Carlo Sciarrelli was born in Trieste on 6th of July, 1934. Son of a train engineer, his first job was also that of a train engineer, after his graduation at the Technical Hight School in Trieste.

Carlo Sciarrelli in his study at home

Still a teenager, Carlo becomes a member of the local sailing club, “Yacht Club Adriaco”, the oldest yacht club in the Adriatic, and sails and races in the Snipe class. The passion for sailing fuels his curiosity in understanding what differentiates a fast and seaworthy boat from lesser designs. Carlo wants to understand things at a very deep level and begins study plans of famous yachts and boats, sometime going many decades and centuries back. He will later summarize all his knowledge in “The Yacht”, a book published by Mursia and translated in four languages. “The yacht” is probably the best and most complete collection of designs in the yachting history commented by Carlo, so that we can see them through his eyes. After reading the book, all boats will appear to us in their true form.

In 1959 he buys and restores a small traditional sailing fishing boat (known in italian as “passera”) that was built on Krk island during the ’30. Her name: Aspasia, which will become the archetype of one of the two boats that Carlo will go on perfecting and perfecting producing close to 140 designs.

In 1960 Carlo designs and builds his first own boat: Anfitrite. Anfitrie is the result of Carlo’s intuition of finding the ideal balance between the “plank on edge” (as English cutters) and the “skimming dish” (as found in sloops built in USA). I will talk about it more in a follwing post. This will remain Carlo’s (not so well kept) secret until he explained it very clearly in his “Lectio Magistralis” in 2003, during Honoris Causa Naval Architecture Degree ceremony at University of Venezia. Aspasia went on to win all regattas where she participated in marked the beginning of Carlo’s career as a yacht designer. His next design was commissioned by a customer that wanted a yacht capable of beating Aspasia.

Carlo scrubbing the bottom of Aspasia

Carlo Sciarrelli died on 23rd September 2006, leaving many beautiful yachts all listed in the famous “Strip”, an elongated strip of taped paper, where he listed all his 137 designs, the most successful ones, according to his own taste, marked with an asterisk. All of them, according to Carlo, are improvements and modification of the two first boats: Anfitrite, as archetype of traditional long keel cruiser, and Aspasia as a fast cruiser-racer archetype. Descendant of Aspasia will evolve into fin yachts with fin keels and skeg supported rudders, while all Aspasia descendants will have long keel yachts. Across his 137 designs the hulls were adopted according to suit the various rigs used: cutter, yawl, ketch and schooner.

Shortly before his death, Carlo commissioned also 20 model of designs he personally selected, as he deemed them special. They were meant to constitute a collection to be displayed probably in the local naval museum summarizing his entire career. All 20 models were eventually built and are pictured in a book “Carlo Sciarrelli, Architetto del Mare” (Carlo Sciarrelli. Architetto del mare-Architect of the sea: 9788862870412: Books). Notably, not all asterisk marked designs made this final list, while some without asterisk did. Perhaps a second thought on what Carlo deemed perfect.

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