Colombian-French yachting personality, Sophianna Bergonzi takes us on an exceptional journey and teaches us an important lesson: the greatest success comes from transforming your weaknesses into your strengths.
One of the supercars I have always admired is the Dutch-based Spyker. Their logo has a motto in Latin “Nulla tenaci invia est via”, which translates as “For the tenacious, no road is impossible”. This motto also reflects the life story of Monaco’s youngest yachting personality, Sophianna Bergonzi.
She was born in the other part of the world, in the Republic of Colombia, in South America.
“My mother is Colombian, my father is French, and they were living in Paris with my older sister. But my mother really wanted her second daughter to be born in her beloved country, so she came to Colombia a few months before I was born.”
The name “Colombia” is derived from the last name of the Italian navigator Christopher Columbus (Spanish: Cristóbal Colón). It was conceived as a reference to all of the New World. The name was later adopted by the Republic of Colombia of 1819, formed from the territories of the old Viceroyalty of New Granada (modern-day Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, and northwest Brazil).
Colombia has the second-highest level of biodiversity in the world. Its territory encompasses the Amazon rainforest, highlands, grasslands, and deserts. The Colombian mainland is bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west giving a good hint of where her fascination toward yachting is coming from.
“My home town is one of those traditional colonial cities, in the Andean Mountains of Colombia, called Popayan. From the Andean mountains to the Mediterranean; one of the most unlikely places for a yachtie to be born in,” – giggles Sophianna.
You are French-Colombian, which side of culture is stronger in you?
“I’m equally proud of both, I like to believe that I have the right dose of both cultures; the discipline and quality standards of the French, but I have to say that my sparkle is definitely Colombian. I live my life with joy to celebrate, and to face hard times I sing, dance and laugh. I like to believe I’m a good example of what we call «el sabor latino».” which could be translated as the latin spice.
Sophianna is the founder of the “Miss Yacht” brand, a social media and YouTube community introducing premium Yachts, shipyards and talents of the Yachting industry worldwide. She is also a dedicated guide for yacht owners who are seeking practical advice or help on sales and charter.
Were you always passionate about yachts?
“Not at all. But I am a passionate person so, when I discovered the yachting world, I suddenly felt the urge to learn everything about it, from the technicality and craft of the actual yacht to the dynamics of the community that gives life to this beautiful industry. I wanted to be completely submerged in the yachting world.”
How easy was it for you to enter this closed industry?
“I am always very persistent when it comes to my goals. I found information on the internet, visited all ports and shipyards possible, and attended every yachting show, event, and conference. Some of my colleagues call me jokingly “the girl who is everywhere”,” – laughs Sophianna. – “What has given me the greatest knowledge is the advice and guidance of all the wonderful people I have met on my path. Today, I can say that I’m absolutely passionate about yachting and fascinated about everything there is still to be discovered in this industry.”
Sophianna was raised in a bilingual environment (Spanish and French) that helped her to develop her linguistic skills. She has always been passionate about languages and she speaks Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, and English.
As a frequent traveller, Sophianna learned English by living in the U.S.A., Russian by living in Russia, and Italian just by relating to Italians in Monaco and Italy.
“I feel very lucky that I could learn these languages through experience and that today I live in a place and work in a field where I can regularly make use of these five languages. Next, I would love to learn Arabic, but that’s another huge challenge.”
Why did you decide to conquer the Principality of Monaco?
“I have had the opportunity to discover many places over the world but none of them had the effect that Monaco had on me when I visited it the first time in 2017. It was love at first sight.
Having relocated in 2020, now I am more than sure that this is the place where I want to stay, I finally feel at home.”
How is it to live in the south of France as a French/Colombian? What are the main cultural differences you have experienced here?
“Monaco is such a cosmopolitan place and that’s what attracted me the most. Coming from an international background, I never completely fit in any country. Even in Colombia, I was “the French girl”. Here I felt a sense of belonging from the beginning.
Besides the fabulous geographical advantages of Monaco (the ocean, mountains, weather), I find here an incredible cultural connection. I get to speak different languages every day, I relate with people from different backgrounds and I feel respected and safe.
Besides, I come from a small town of Spanish descendants in Colombia, so to me it comes naturally managing the small town social dynamics.”
How did the idea of “Miss Yacht” come?
“It’s quite an unexpected story. I was in search of three things:
One, to find more knowledge about the different areas of the yachting industry;
Two, to market my yacht listings;
and three, to be recognised in the community.
Due to an inconvenient situation, I ended up finding in social media the solution for my three principal needs in 2022.”
One day, after having organised the video production for several yachts of her listing, the filming team had to cancel all of a sudden. Sophianna could not let her clients down. In a moment of panic, she called Maurizio Bulleri, the TV Star of The Boat Show in Italy who has become a true friend and support in her career.
Sophianna asked him to help save the production, but as any good friend would do, instead of giving her the fish, Maurizio taught Sophianna how to fish. He was the one who ultimately encouraged her to find the confidence to start the Miss Yacht Project.
As a working mom, please tell us more about your two daugthers.
“They are both parts of my soul living in other little bodies, they are the reason for everything I do.
Annelyn, 9 years old, has taken from me her determined character but I have to admit she is much more down-to-earth than me. She is logical and has analytical intelligence.
Taliana, 7 years old, is a burst of sunshine. She illuminates with her personality any place she goes to and she can make anyone smile around her because of her tenderness. She has my artistic and creative intelligence.”
How do you adjust your busy schedule with parenting?
“Unfortunately, in this moment they are not living with me, but everything I am doing, I am building it for them and for their future.“
They must be truly proud of you and hopefully, they will learn and be motivated by your journey.
“I truly believe that what I learn from my daughters is at least equal to what they learn from me. My biggest hope is that they will grow up proud of their mother and my ultimate professional dream is that one day my daughters will join me in the Miss Yacht adventure. By that time I may be leaving them in front of the camera and will be cheering for them behind it!”
Being in front of the camera is not something unusual for Sophianna as her sister is a famous TV presenter in Latin America.
The Bergonzi sisters have influenced each other to direct their careers toward the public entertainment sector as they both started singing, dancing, modelling, and acting in childhood. They both followed their studies in communication. While Sophianna’s older sister, Violeta specialised in journalism, she found joy in cinematography.
Does your sister influence your choice to become a yacht personality?
“She is definitely a huge inspiration. I am proud to say that she is and has always been my source of strength. She knows me more than anyone, so she knows how to push me beyond what I consider my limits. I’m lucky to have her as my coach for presenting in front of the camera.”
Miss Yacht is a very feminine name, unusual for the yachting industry. Why did you choose to make your brand so personal?
“I chose that name and approach exactly for that reason, because it’s feminine, personal, and myself. When Miss Yacht started, I was in a moment of my career that I felt at a disadvantage for being a young woman. It was quite frustrating not being taken seriously and wrongly judged only by a first impression. But one thing I know, I am loyal to myself and my essence. So that’s when I decided to make my “weakness” my greatest strength.
I have to be strong like an oak tree, and at the same time delicate as a flower. That’s what makes me different, and that’s what allows me to build empathy with my clients so that I can guide them in the best way. In the end, the trust of my clients and colleagues is the best proof of the quality of my work.”
I see you have the blood of a tiger woman. How is it to be a young woman in the yachting industry?
“It’s funny to say so, but even in 2023 women are often underestimated, especially in an industry as yachting, where I would say more that 90% are men. It takes great effort to be recognised by our abilities when we are surrounded by so many strong and experienced men, especially on the technical side. But for the same reason there are many fantastic people that are more than willing to mentor me and collaborate with me once they understand my professional vision. The best example of these mentors is Trevor Gabriel, who trusted me the command of the yachting division of Classic Riviera.”
Trevor Gabriel is a known and accomplished entrepreneur in the Monaco community. He is the owner of the real estate agency Monaco Villas and the yacht and luxury car brokerage company, Classic Riviera. Trevor Gabriel has an impeccable reputation thanks to his more than thirty years of working hand-by-hand with UHNW individuals in the real estate sector.
Tell us more about the purpose and goal of the Miss Yacht brand.
“Miss Yacht is the host that allows you to discover and be discovered in the yachting world. This is possible thanks to a solid personal and digital network in the very tight yachting community.
The development of Miss Yacht is supported by the coverage and publication of media content of events, the creation of cinematographic documentary videos covering the full spectrum of the yachting industry, and the collaboration with other media outlets such as yachting magazines, TV productions, and other influencers.
The purpose is to create a community where you can experience through impeccably curated videos the finest work done by the experts of the industry. From the first lines drawn by the yacht designer to the process of building in the shipyard, and finally the experience on the sea. You can also discover the latest events happening around the world in the yachting industry, and last but not least, you can find in me a friend who can help you navigate the waters of the yachting industry.”
Led by Sophianna, the brand Miss Yacht captures the essence of yachting from its finest details, through a series of visual content guided in a friendly and fun way, so the audience can experience every aspect of the art of yachting. It is also a marketplace for yachts available for sale and charter. The team offers the brokerage service through Classic Riviera.
What is your personal preference, motorboat or sailing yacht?
“I would say sailing with loved ones and close friends. I believe that contact with the elements, participating, or even just being the witness of the art of sailing is a great experience that strengthens bonds.
A motor yacht would be my choice for having a good time in a more sociable way. Enjoying the water, drinks, and of course, with me, you cannot escape a little salsa dancing!”
How do you see the yachting life in the Principality of Monaco?
“From my position, the most fascinating thing about yachting is that it is not limited to a geographical position. Monaco is the center from where I run the business, I have great professional results, and of course, I spend amazing moments with the yachting community through collaborative work and events.
But besides that, my role expands all over the world, from the U.S.A, Europe, Turkey, Australia, etc. I have a very solid connection with Italy, with the shipyards, architects, designers and media there. Maybe my Italian last name helps me in it.”
You often post photos with classical cars. Do you equally love them?
“I love cars, especially classical ones – you can tell I’m a romantic soul. Also, I have a wonderful relationship with my audience and I know many of them are big fans of cars.
As I want to please my fans they appreciate it when I include content with cars. Besides, being in Monaco is like living in a museum of art on wheels, it would be a pity if I wouldn’t share all this with my audience.”
Speaking of “art on wheels”, Sophianna is also proud to be the ambassador of the French brand of car DEVINCI. They are almost like jewels, inspired by the classical cars of the 30s and fully electric and custom-crafted.
Classic Riviera also acts as luxury and classic car broker. Besides their client database, they also have a great network of reliable car professionals in Europe to help their clients find and sell their cars.
Do you have other passions beyond yachting?
“I do, maybe I have too many passions and too little time to enjoy them all. The first is music; I have been singing and playing piano since childhood. I believe in constant improvement, so today I am enrolled in the music program at the Académie Rainier III in Monaco, taking piano and singing lessons.
I also love painting with watercolour and oil. I have inherited this part from my father, as he is an incredible painter. I also give high priority to exercising, running, and going to the gym, but I think that this part fits better in the discipline section instead of the passion one.”
Do you have time to visit Colombia?
“I often visit Colombia. I go there at least once a year, since my mother, sister, and baby niece are living there. We are as united as musketeers, with the difference that we are six, counting my two daughters as well.”
Have you met many Colombians in Monaco?
“I know three more Colombians, they are also entrepreneurs in the luxury area in Monaco. Claudia Guevara, founder of Meraki Heritage, a label of fine jewelry and handbags handcrafted in Colombia; Hernando Ramirez, head of Royal Riviera, a brand of the most exquisite authentic champagne you can find in the region; and Federico Uribe, founder and designer of 209 Mare, house of premium clothing made especially for yachting lifestyle.”
Do you believe that building up the Miss Yacht brand and the support of the local community in Monaco can help you to reach your dreams?
“I believe in Miss Yacht as I believe in the sun. I want to be a friendly face, who can help and unite the community in Monaco from the yachting perspective, but not limited to it. I also want to create bonds in the industry in a global level, because my philosophy of work relies more on collaboration than on competition, united we are stronger.
About reaching my dreams? Miss Yacht will not help me reach them because Miss Yacht is already my ultimate dream come true. Everyday I’m thankful and joyful to wake up to meet and help wonderful people.
I live in the most beautiful place on earth, I work with yachts which I see as masterpieces, and with people who I believe are true artists and geniuses. I am as happy today as I will be at the peak of my career.”