Dario Messina tells us how he came to found Nerea Yacht, a boutique shipyard that can meet the needs of even the most demanding owners
by Carla Pagani
DARIO MESSINA WAS BORN IN ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN ITALY: ERICE, in warm and welcoming Sicily, a land of creativity and dreams, and also contrasts. From the highest point of the beautiful village in the province of Trapani, looking south, you can see the sea, calm and open, with red and purple late-August salt pools dotted around, beginning to dry, while in the other direction the open sea is bluer and sculpted by the wind. Messina therefore has an innate attention to differences and nuances. And it is the small details that make the difference on a yacht like the Nerea 24, which has already made waves on both the Italian and international market.
The NY24 is a luxury day cruiser created by the Ligurian designers Alessio Battistini and Davide Bernardini.
Nerea Yacht was founded less than two years ago. In January 2019, at the Düsseldorf International Boat Show, Nerea unveiled its first boat, a highly original day cruiser that has no intention of blending in with other existing boats of the same size. «There’s no point being on the market just for the sake of it», Messina says.
The NY24 is more than just a 7.35 metre motorboat – it’s a luxury yacht. But perhaps the thing that drives Messina on more than anything else is the opportunity to make people happy. «This summer we delivered the first model to a client of ours in Palma de Mallorca. He was as happy as Larry. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing such spontaneous and irrepressible joy». The boat is easy to handle and practical. «We wanted the NY24 to be convenient both on sea and on land, so we made it easy to transport with a trailer. This means we meet the needs of many people, especially those who want a boat to nip out for some fun at the weekend». It is therefore an easy boat to get on the water,x showing Messina’s ability to read the market and enter it on tiptoes.
«I have made many sacrifices and encountered many obstacles, but with enough willpower you really can do something special. I don’t know where I’ll end up – only time will tell».
«We’re building up to being a full-blown shipyard, one step at a time. We want to get there – we’re moving slowly and carefully, but we know exactly what we want to achieve. We want to make a name for ourselves».
Dario Messina’s story began in Trinacria, in the workshops smelling of timber where Dario watched first his grandfather and then his father work.«They were both carpenters. I grew up amidst the shavings». They were great role models for the young boy, who moved to one of the beating hearts of Italian boating, Fano, on the Adriatic Coast before he had even turned twenty. «I worked with the biggest Italian shipyards. Tilli Antonelli was a crucial role model for me – full of inspiration, creativity and ideas, and always one step ahead of the rest. It was fantastic to watch him and the designers dismantling yachts and putting them back together with such flair and creativity». And Messina’s father, who always kept his feet on the ground, taught him a lot too. «He taught me to live with very little. My father was a quiet and practical man, who made me worldly-wise».Dario Messina’s work draws on all of this, as well as his many years of experience.
«Being an entrepreneur and coming from nothing is rare, especially nowadays. We don’t have any financial backers or extra support. We did it all ourselves».
His company, Argo Marine, has been building boats for other companies since 2008. «We already have a business, and that’s why we don’t want to enter the yacht market in a superficial, improvised manner; we want to go further, and create something beautiful that will really excite our buyers». Using all the experience and knowledge that comes from years spent in the field. «I’m not a natural businessman. I’m first and foremost a craftsman». And a very good one at that – there aren’t many people like him in the boating world, you can probably count them on one hand.
Undoubtedly brave, strong-willed and prepared to make sacrifices, but above all skilled, it’s no surprise he’s receiving so many positive reviews. «We weren’t expecting this kind of welcome – we’re delighted. Being aware of the manual labour required to build a boat definitely means I know what I’m doing and what I need – I know what it takes». This experience of boat-building really makes the difference, and is paying off in terms of his credibility and ability to offer an innovative and high-quality product. Moreover, attention to detail is integral to Messina’s training and experience: «It’s all about mindset. I’ve been dedicated to finishes for a long time. If I can do it on yachts produced by other companies, I can do it on Nerea boats too».
So what are their future plans? «For now, we’re hoping to attend the next Düsseldorf International Boat Show, and the one in Venice – that’s one we definitely don’t want to miss». And they’ve got other things lined up too: «We want to aim for an even more innovative boat», including the cutting-edge materials Dario Messina has already used on the NY24, like Oltremateria, the eco-friendly option Nerea has chosen for the boat’s finishes.
Nerea Yacht is a “boat boutique”, a sort of workshop for the sea where every new craft is unique. These pictures show the NY24 Limo, which is ideal as a tender for a superyacht. The cockpit’s layout makes this boat functional as a party boat or a runabout to sail with friends.
Dario Messina has decided to adopt Oltremateria’s Ecopur technology for his boats, transforming every surface into a natural purifier that makes not only the treated surface but also the air that touches it antibacterial and antiviral.
«Oltremateria is versatile – you can do any number of things with it, and it suits our craftsmanship perfectly». Messina has also used a material on board that was not designed for boats. «Nerea Yacht is the first company to use eco-cement on a boat’s exterior». So what about the future? «We’re considering using eco-cement for the interiors too».
But the innovation doesn’t end there… «We’ll soon be adopting another innovative material; a clear finish applied to surfaces to lower bacteria levels». It may sound like science fiction, but actually it stems from the firm’s research and innovation, and Messina’s ability to keep on looking forwards, with courage and conviction. «It’s vital to maintain a long-term view. You always need to look beyond the present». Without ever forgetting the aroma of wood shavings, of course.
(Dario Messina, a boutique shipyard – Barchemagazine.com – February 2021)