By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The recently opened, Rio Classic Sailing, is now offering both Rio’s tourists and residents alike, the unique opportunity to sail Rio’s iconic waters, whether it be for a relaxing day tour or a romantic sunset cruise, in a rare classic vessel, a fully restored 42.7-foot yawl, the Maria de Luna.
In nautical terms, a yawl is a two-masted sailboat with a large mainmast and smaller mizzenmast. Importantly, Rio Classic Sailing’s principle, Italian expatriate Stefano Macchi, is one of only a handful of people in all of Brazil to own one of these historic vessels.
“Being raised in Trieste,” explained Macchi to The Rio Times, “with a very strong tradition of sailing and cruises, I had always wanted to get a little boat myself one day.”
However, once the Italian expat arrived in the Cidade Maravilhosa, he quickly realized that he would have to put his dream of owning a sailboat on hold. “When I moved and settled in Rio, I got a reality shock and realized that boat sailing is something here for billionaires. Trieste has more sailing boats than all Brazil probably!” exclaimed Macci.
With Macci’s nautical aspirations on hold, he along with two friends opened the guesthouse, Casalegre Art Vila, in Santa Teresa. And it would be here, at Casalegre, that Macci’s dream of owning a sailboat would be rekindled. “One of my guests at [Casalegre], invited me to see his little sailing boat in Urca.”
This experience showed Macci that owning a sailboat in Rio was perhaps not just reserved for the ultra-wealthy. He explained, “Thanks to him [the Casalegre guest] I got to know an alternative way of keeping a boat and following his advice I started to research the market for my own sailing boat.”
Over the course of several months, and after seeing dozens of boats, Macci stumbled upon an old classic sailboat at a reasonable price and was immediately smitten.
That boat was the Maria de Luna, which was built in 1955 and was once used as a school sailboat by the Brazilian Navy. At that time, the Maria de Luna was in need of a huge restoration, but as Macci explains, “it was too late for me, I had already started to live that old dream again.”
Now, after almost a year of hard work and dedication restoring the boat to its former glory, the classic vessel is moored in the tranquil waters off Urca beach just beneath Sugarloaf Mountain.
For Macci, the realization of a dream that began in Trieste, Italy, coupled with the hard work of restoring a classic vessel has been a profound experience and one he hopes to share with others. “Classic boats are rarities and a piece of floating history of the country, the pleasure to restore the boat has now been replaced by the emotion of navigating her along the Rio de Janeiro coast.”
For more information about organizing a trip on the Maria de Luna, visit the Rio Classic Sailing website. They offer a variety of tour options from day tours where guests will get a nautical perspective of Centro, Niteroi, Urca and Sugarloaf; to a romantic sunset cruise where guests enjoy a bottle of Prosecco as they watch the sun go down over Rio’s stunning skyline.
Of course, they also offer bespoke sailing trips tailor-made to guests’ preferences, which could include overnight crewed charters and trips to Angra dos Reis, Ilha Grande and Paraty.