The Morgan Giles – Monaco’s

The Morgan Giles – Monaco’s

Morgan Giles Ltd were one of the South Coast’s major boat builders, based in Teignmouth Devon. They were primarily known for their beautiful sailing boats but during WW2 were contracted by the MOD and Vosper to build patrol boats and in the mid 1950’s production began of a range of Motor Cruisers 36ft to 50ft in length.

The craft they built were substantial and were probably equivalent to a Rolls Royce of the sea. When the first Cowes Torquay was announced Captain Morgan Giles entered of his craft….Monaco Fortuna a 33 footer which finished 7th overall. In 1962, 2 craft were entered Monaco Midget and Monaco Selene, the Midget hit a railway sleeper off Weymouth and retired. In 1963 3 boats were entered and 2 started Monaco Mercury and Meteor and Monaco Susan. Monaco Mercury finshed tenth and Meteor in 20th place

1963 Monaco Mercury (Number 11)

The boat pictured here is Monaco Mercury from 1963 specially designed for the race notice the cut down cabin, aft mounted helm and the Deep V type hull with spray rails, a big departure from the original Monaco design

For more history and information visit the club web site at

1963 Monaco Mercury (Number 11)

Racing Monaco’s Update

Subsequent to the pictures of Monaco Meteor we have now some more rare photographs of firstly Monaco Fortuna in the 1961 race (no 12)

Monaco - Fortuna in the 1961 Cowes Torquay Race (Race number 12)

And even more dramatic pictures of Monaco Mutineer schedule to race in 1962 but which caught fire on her way to Cowes!

Monaco - Mutineer scheduled to race in 1962 but which caught fire on her way to Cowes!

She was subsequently replaced in the race by Monaco Selene which had just been delivered to her new owners. They graciously allowed her to be raced in Mutineers place.

Monaco - Selene, graciously allowed her to be raced in Mutineers place.

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Renato (Sonny) Levi.

Renato Levi, known to all as Sonny, was born in Karachi, India in 1926.
His father ran a shipyard in Bombay(now Mumbai), so Sonny naturally took an
early interest in boats & ships.

Sonny became an apprentice in his fathers shipyard in Bombay, but with the coming of World War 2, he joined the RAF, becoming a Pilot Officer. No doubt his interest not only in boats but also aircraft was heightened by this part of his life.

Sonny became primarily interested in marine design, especially in relation to smaller, fast craft, and the ability of such craft to withstand the varieties of sea conditions often encountered. He designed craft for his fathers yard during the 1950’s, but moved to Italy in 1960. In Italy, Sonny managed Cantiere Navaltecnica (Canav), in Anzio.

No one of a certain age can forget “A’Speranziella”, built by Canav to Sonny’s design for the 1961 Cowes-Torquay Race. She finished sixth, after experiencing mechanical problems, but had led the race for a considerable distance, dueling with the eventual winner “Thunderbolt”.

After partially re-building the boat in light of the experiences of 1961, success dawned with a win in the 1962 Viareggio-Bastia Race. Further developments resulted in great success with “A’Speranziella” winning the 1963 Cowes-Torquay Race.

Sonny became a world renowned designer of fast craft largely as a result of these successes, and the many fast craft he designed culminated in the 1965 launch of
“Surfury”, often thought of as one of Sonny’s most memorable designs. This boat
made a name for herself, winning Cowes-Torquay in 1967. “Surfury” was the first of Sonny’s much lauded Delta designs.

This success brought more commissions, and Levi designs were sought world wide,
where fast sea-going boats were needed.

In the 1980’s, Richard Branson commissioned Sonny to design “Virgin Atlantic
Challenger II”, which was successful in recording the then fastest trans-Atlantic crossing, despite contaminated fuel issues en route. This famous boat was certainly a fabulous marker in Sonny’s career. “VAC II” not only had its design by Sonny, but also the Levi Drive system too.

Developments in high speed propeller and drive systems have been part of Sonny’s
great contribution to fast boat development over the last forty or more years.

Martin Napier

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