“The most exclusive toy of the richest men in the world is neither a plane, nor a Ferrari nor a house: it is a yacht”
Toni Tió, “an apparently happy person from 1949” who had a vocation for the sea, visited our offices to be the first guest of our new Q&A format: "10 questions with...". Sail maker, husband, poetry lover and former President of the Barcelona Nautical Cluster, who has “not stopped loving the sea” since 1962, when the Sant Pol Nautical Club was created in his hometown.
About ten years later, he was making sails in La Rochelle, France where he learned the profession, but also learned how to sail. When asked about his biggest regret in his career, he said that “Sometimes I think that I should have stayed there. I think that professionally I would have been more successful than coming back home” but “there is no place like home”.
Nevertheless, after a relatively short stay in Germany, he ended up in Barcelona and created his own company. With “concern and attitude”, and the vocation that “leads you to excellence” being Toni’s keys to stay in the industry for the long term, it turned out to be the benchmark brand for sailing in Spain.
But the recognition, and the best moment of his professional career, arrived in 1992, at the Barcelona Olympic Games: “At the awards ceremony, having won 5 Olympic medals with my sails was very emotional”.
In the mid-2000s, an industry crisis puts an end to Toni’s adventure as a sail maker. It’s his time to try to take the maritime sector where it belongs. Toni sees the nautical sector as “an economic sector with added value” and “a way out of unemployment”, so in 2010, the Fòrum Marítim Català was created in an attempt to unify “the nautical sports, fishing and maritime sectors”.
It was a first attempt to create what we know as the Barcelona Nautical Cluster. With the support of “the fisherman”, “the nautical sport” and “the Port of Barcelona”, the project set sails and three years later “Barcelona City Council proposed the creation of the Barcelona Nautical Cluster, and I accepted it”.
From that moment, in 2013, until the 22nd January of 2021, the date when he retired, the Cluster has been fighting against the tide “but the society always goes faster than public power and in the case of the nautical sector it goes much faster”, and it was time to make way for the next generation.
Anyway, he feels confident about the future of the superyacht industry in Spain: “We have two things in our favour: leading companies in the sector” and “the gift of having the Balearic Islands in front of us, which is a first-class tourist destination” he says without hesitation.
However, his face changes when he is asked about sustainability: “This is a challenge that we all have to face, the planet can't stand it”. From the Cluster there is a growing movement in favour of a responsible economy, with different projects on the rise. Otherwise, “companies will close down. We have to take it very seriously”
Today, after a lifetime of sailing, it's time to dock. Toni’s next plan is “to get bored until September” and enjoy a well-deserved rest with his family until he finds out what his next challenge will be.