Tullio Abbate, powerboating champion and boatbuilder, dies at 76 for Covid-19

He dedicated his whole life to speed in boating, both in competitions and in boat building. His yard carries his name, Tullio Abbate, and his fast boats have been appreciated by champions such as Gilles Villeneuve and Ayrton Senna.

Abbate, 76, had been hospitalized in Milan for a few days and on thursday 9 April unfortunately he entered the nefarious list of victims of Covid-19, the coronavirus that is taking the world to unprecedented challenges.

Like father, like son

He was a legacy, as his father Guido was a manufacturer of wooden boats also for racing (he built the “Laura” with the Alfa Romeo engine of Juan Manuel Fangio, on which Mario Verga broke the speed record at an average speed of 226 km /h). Tullio Abbate built his first boat in a garage in the early 1960s, almost secretly from his father who could not tolerate the fact that his son used fiberglass.


A “carnations crate” it was nicknamed by Guido, who in a short while, although never openly admitting it, had to change his mind about fiberglass, because that “crate” was beginning to win in many competitions with Tullio Abbate at the helm.

Tullio was right. With a much lighter boat than the wooden ones he competed against, he could mount a smaller engine, so with a 1.3-liter he managed to perform the same, if not better, than the 5- and 8-liter engines of his competitors.

Tullio Abbate Mito 23

Over time Tullio Abbate has won everything: the Centomiglia del Lario (100 miles of Lake Como), and then several European and World Championships. But his real race was “virtually” with his father, because in 1969 he opened his boatyard almost in front of that of Guido. Here, to this day he has built almost ten thousand fiberglass boats, sold all over the world: small and large cruisers, with or without cabin, all super fast and efficient in the water.

Tullio Abbate with Niki Lauda (above) and Artyon Senna

It is no coincidence that his boats have mounted also Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini engines and, they have attracted other men who have built their lives and careers on the speed: people such as Michael Schumacher, Nelson Piquet, Gilles Villeneuve, Giacomo Agostini, Alain Prost, Didier Pironi and many others, all owners of Tullio Abbate boats. Not least Ayrton Senna, for whom he had created a special version of Mito 42 with his name.

Tullio Abbate was a visionary, a man whose great strength has made his fortune against the sacred monsters of the golden age of powerboating, but who today unfortunately has not been able to beat an invisible and ruthless killer.

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