Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Sonny" Levi and the Speranzella

John Bohannan.  Your Guide to Boating Power or Sail.  Barnes & Nobles, 1965, 1969.

"Sonny" Renato Levi was born in Genoa (or Karachi) in 1902. (The name 'Sonny' was bestowed by an ayah who could not manage the letter 'r.')  His father was an interior designer and manufacturer, but also an enthusiastic motor-yachtsman.  As a result, he found himself in the boat-building business, doing contract work in Bombay for the Indian government.  Sonny was in Cannes when World War II broke out.  Here the stories diverge.  In one, he joined the RAF.  In another, he became a real-life James Bond, passing misinformation on to the Germans and becoming the subject of a 2015 book: Doublecross in Cairo.  Somewhere along the line, he is supposed to have studied aircraft design and joined his father's business after the war.  In 1960 he moved to Anzio, Italy to work for Navaltecnica, which specialized in rough water patrol craft for the government.   During his tenure, he counted among his customers rich, playboy powerboat racers such as Gianni Agnelli, Count Augusta, and the Aga Khan who were prepared to fund his more daring ideas.  Levi pioneered the design of radical deep-V racing hulls.  His A'Speranzella was the 1963 Cowes-Torquay winner.

To read a 2013 interview with Sonny Levi and the history behind the deep vee hull, click on The Speed King.

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