Yacht Class n°26 (sept-oct-nov 2021)
Open since the end of 2020, Monaco’s third port was officially inaugurated on July 2nd by Prince Albert II. It now offers 178 additional berths, including some forty for units over 35 metres, thus doubling the capacity for superyachts in the Principality.
Written by Aurore Teodoro – Photos : Eric Mathon / Palais Princier.
Aleco Keusseoglou, president of the Société d’Exploitation des Ports de Monaco (SEPM), had found the right words during his inauguration speech of the new marina of Cala del Forte: “This moment is part of an exceptional and memorable day. One we are looking forward to see begin, but that we would never want to see come to an end”. A bright sun, a cloudless blue sky, a light sea breeze… July 2nd provided the perfect setting to make this sober celebration brilliant success. It was also like cocking a snook at the dark period the world is going through because of the pandemic, but also to the storm Alex, still very much in people’s minds as it deeply affected Ventimiglia and its region last October. Aleco Keusseoglou actually mentioned these in his speech: “Against all odds, thanks to the tenacity and efforts of all, we have overcome one by one the obstacles to get where we are today”. Prince Albert II cut the inaugural ribbon in presence of 200 guests, made up of Monegasque and Italian officials, owners of the yachts moored at Cala del Forte and shop owners. He was accompanied for the occasion by the princely twins and his niece Camille Gottlieb, godmother of the Monaco One shuttle, which will travel from the marina to Port
Hercules in ten minutes. A gem at only 7.9 nautical miles
This third Monegasque port is the culmination of a long process, an “adventure” even as Aleco Keusseoglou described it, that began at the beginning of the new millennium, when he was entrusted by Prince Rainier III the mission of “restoring the prestige of Monaco’s ports by reinvigorating their commercial attractiveness and making Port Hercules a flagship of the Mediterranean”, recalled the chaiman of the SEPM, created in 2000. Since then, the Monegasque infrastructures have become increasingly prestigious and attractive, due in part to the semi-floating seawall protecting Port Hercules and its yachts. But very quickly, despite a capacity of more than 1 000 berths, the waiting list quickly grew and saturation became a reality… This finally led the Principality to look toward the ports of the French Riviera and Liguria. And it finally set its eyes on Cala del Forte, which had been abandoned since 2013 after the bankruptcy of its company due to the economic crisis. Located just 7.9 nautical miles away from Monaco, this uncut diamond came with an 80-year concession, an exceptionally long duration, and above all it was only partially built which meant that it could be tailored to meet the specific needs of Monegasque yachting. “We seized the opportunity because honestly we thought that we could acquire this company at a reasonable price. We knew the cost of the works to complete it. It required an envelope of 80 million: 31.5 for the acquisition and about 50 to complete it. …” the chairman of the SEPM explained at the time (see YC n°8) just after long and difficult negotiations “because it was legally very complicated”.
A four year long work
Because the pandemic, the work was slightly delayed and it actually took four years to complete the marina of Cala del Forte. “We have made improvements and modified the mooring plan by reducing the berths to 178, including some 40 berths for boats over 35 m, thus doubling the overall capacity of the Monaco ports superyachts,” emphasized Aleco Keusseoglou, in his inauguration speech before adding, “We also took the opportunity to change the position of the harbor master’s office and optimize the layout of the commercial premises and parking lots.” Open since October 15th, 2020, the port is now fully operational. Some 50 berths have already been sold via a long-term lease. After a winter run-in period, now only the finishing touches remain. As for the commercial area and its thirty-five businesses (restaurants, cafés, shipchandlers…), the pandemic has also caused some delays. But all the spots are already rented, and after a few more adjustments, it should be fully open by the end of the year. No doubt, this brand-new marina will bring a new dynamism to Monegasque yachting, but also to the transalpine city. “If the Principality sees the birth of its third port, the Italian authorities see their Mediterranean heritage enriched by a new facility which, we all hope, will contribute to an economic and social boom”, Prince Albert II recalled during the ceremony, before wishing a “long live to Cala del Forte”.