Published: Wednesday, 03 July 2013
Mike Fulton

The Azimut|Benetti Group invited over 600 select clients from all over the world to its sixth Yachting Gala, which took place on 29 and 30 June. It gave guests the chance for an exclusive preview of the brand new Azimut 80 and to raise a toast crowning the 140th anniversary celebrations for Benetti, Italy's oldest superyacht boatyard. The weekend was full of events and smiles – smiles made more special thanks to the charity initiative organised in partnership with the Operation Smile Italia Foundation, chaired by Santo Versace. 

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This exclusive Yachting Gala for enthusiasts of Azimut|Benetti’s luxury yachts has become a traditional event and was held this year against the wonderful backdrop of Portofino. Over the two days the guests could take part in sea trials and visit the splendid Azimut|Benetti craft in this unique setting.

Portofino Marina was filled with the Azimut yachts thanks to a two-year partnership that involves the company, based in Avigliana, sponsoring the jetties and staff uniforms. At the end of each day there were gala evenings and important celebrations.

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The Gala started on Friday 28 June with an exciting gala evening to honour of Benetti’s “first” 140 years with a special toast reserved for all the people who have really lead to the company's success: its latest clients and its most loyal boat owners from all over the world. Together with Benetti, the evening’s special partners were the Antico Setificio Fiorentino, Cà del Bosco and Stefano Ricci, as Benetti ambassadors from around the world who reflect the utmost in high quality Italian craftsmanship.

Saturday and Sunday offered plenty of opportunities for sea trials and tours of the Azimut collections. The star attraction, among the other 18 models there for the occasion, was the new Azimut 80, which was available for exclusive preview by the 600 plus invited guests. The Azimut 80, scheduled to be officially presented at the Cannes Boat Show this September, is the first boat longer than 72 feet to be entirely designed at Avigliana. She is fitted with incredible panoramic windows and guest cabins to offer the utmost in comfort.

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Additionally, the Yachting Gala 2013 was also an opportunity for the Azimut|Benetti Group to plan and achieve another important objective: to finance the work of the non-profit Operation Smile Italia Foundation, chaired by Santo Versace, and raise enough money to allow at least 200 children to smile again and to give them a new life. This is the Italian division of Operation Smile International and its mission is to provide reconstructive plastic surgery to correct serious problems like cleft lip, palatoschisis and the effects of burns and traumas. According to the foundation one child is born every three minutes with one of these deformities, so the task is enormous.  

This initiative was a great success too, thanks to the enthusiasm and generosity of Azimut|Benetti’s friends, a sign that working together can truly make a difference. It not only reached its goal but exceeded it and now 420 children will benefit from care and carry on a normal life thanks to the donations. 

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Santo Versace said, "I am delighted to tell you how much I admire and sincerely appreciate the decision taken by the Azimut|Benetti Group, one of the very best Italian companies in the world, to support Operation Smile, and their commitment to give a future to and to perceptively change the life of children born with facial deformities that the organisation has been curing at no cost for more than 30 years.” 

The Foundation consists of volunteer doctors, nurses and health workers who carry out humanitarian missions in more than 60 countries worldwide correcting these injuries and deformities through plastic surgery.