Sonny Levi: The Eminent Boat Designer

Renato Sonny Levi RDI (9 September 1926 – 12 November 2016) was a renowned English, (of Italian heritage), boat designer known for creating powerboats for the Aga Khan, the Shah of Iran, and Richard Branson.

Early life of Sonny Levi

Renato Levi was born in Karachi city on the day of 9 September 1926 into a family that had fled fascism in Italy, but he was educated in France and Darjeeling.


Levi learned about boat design in his uncle’s boat-design business Afco in Bombay. He shifted to England in the year of 1944 and became a pilot in Spitfires with the Royal Air Force. After demobilization he founded his own boatyard in Anzio in the year of 1960. He invented a surface propulsion system which increased speed and reduced drag and was installed on Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Challenger II. In the year of 1986, he was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry.


Levi passed away on the day of 12 November 2016.



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