About Renato “Sonny” Levi

Sonny Levi at the helm of G-50 in 1968

Renato “Sonny” Levi was born in Karachi in 1926.

He was at educated in France, India and England.

His father, an entrepreneur, whose interests included interiors and furniture making was also an enthusiastic motor boater.

From an early age Sonny grew up around boats and took much of his inspiration from the local vessels that plied their trade in Bombay.

Sonny Levi personalising one of his Levi Drives

He moved to England towards the end of WW II and joined the RAF and ultimately reaching the rank of Flying Officer.

After being demobbed, he studied aircraft design in England, after completing his studies he became the chief designer in his father’s busy ship yard – Afco in Bombay, India.

In 1960 he moved to Italy and founded Navaltecnica in Anzio where he had much success designing and building a range of high speed pleasure boats that were also sold in military guise to the Italian government.

These boats were the forefathers of modern planing boats incorporating the first deep “V” hull design.

Delta 28 – 1968 Daily Express International Offshore Powerboat Race Photo: Graham Stevens

Sonny Levi’s most notable achievements:

  • The invention of the deep “V” Hull, now found on the majority of fast mono-hull motor boats the world over and Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Challenger, winner of the Blue Riband for achieving the fastest transatlantic sea crossing in 1986.
  • Sonny can count amongst his clients the armed forces of Italy, India, Israel, South Africa and Sweden, fast ferry operators in Australia, luxury boat builders Riva, and engineering visionaries such as the Agnellis, Augustas, Lamborghinis and Olivettis as well as several royal families.
  • In 1987, Sonny had his achievements recognised with his election as a Royal Designer for Industry, a distinction regarded as the highest honour obtainable in the field of design.