Azzurra and the ‘chocolatiers’, when Gianni Agnelli launched Italy in the America’s Cup – There is a thread that binds Italian sailing to the lawyer Giovanni Agnelli whose 100 years since his birth on 12 March. In these days in Italy a population of sailors and navigators is growing again, passionate about the exploits of Luna Rossa at the America’s Cup.

The epic of Azzurra

It had already happened in 1983 with the feats of “Azzurra” and the first Italian campaign at the America’s Cup. The father of that adventure was the lawyer who accepted Cino Ricci’s proposal after just over an hour of conversation.
An interview told in the book “I hated the sailors” written in 2014 by the journalist of La Stampa Fabio Pozzo with Ricci himself, published by Longanesi. “I leave the anonymous building in Corso Marconi 10. I am immersed in the winter darkness of Turin. It is February 1981. My name is Cino Ricci. I have just left the office of an icon, of the most powerful man in Italy , of the president of Fiat. Other than an anonymous building. Rooms that assisted in strategic business decisions. An important decision has also been taken in these offices today “.

The memory of Cino Ricci

“I have many memories of Avvocato Agnelli but perhaps what I have left the most – Cino Ricci tells – is just when I went to him and he said ‘yes we do it'”. “I was amazed – he continues – that he immediately said yes to me. Generally when you go to talk to someone to make him spend money you hear him say ‘now let’s see, we’ll see, I’ll let you know’ instead he told me immediately ‘ yes, we do. “They were great emotions, perhaps the greatest of all that came after. I was amazed that he said yes right away, I could – he jokes – sell the carpets. Convincing a man like that is not worth it. all”.

A relationship with Agnelli has continued over time: “We saw each other quite a few times, even after the America’s Cup. I went on a boat with him, I went to see the games, I went by plane, here and there. it was friendship of course – he observes – but he was quite ironic about himself too, in short, there was not a step to climb to get there. That’s how I met him. I could tell him things “.
Speaking of those days in 1983, Cino Ricci recalls: “Sometimes Avvocato Agnelli came to visit us during training, he got on the boat and stayed with us for a while and then went away. He threw himself into the water like that, dressed as he was . There was always a motorboat that was close to us when he was on board. We came back in the evening because we trained instead after a while he got bored, threw himself in the water, the motorboat picked him up and went away “.

“We don’t do chocolatiers”

In addition to that fateful yes, there is a phrase that entered the history of that meeting in Corso Marconi in Turin. A sentence that the lawyer said to Cino Ricci: “‘We don’t make chocolatiers’, he told me when we broke up that day. He told me” don’t make me look like chocolate makers. I don’t know in Turin how they considered the chocolatiers, but he told me so “.
Gianni Agnelli, a passionate sailor, was already caressing the dream of the America’s Cup in the 1960s. During one of his trips to America he had gone to follow her as a spectator with his wife, with Beppe Croce, president of the Italian Sailing Federation and engineer Giulio Cesare Carcano on a boat with President Kennedy, who then presented him to the New York Yacht Club .

The semifinals of 1983

On that occasion, however, an interest in an Italian challenge was answered ‘for business it can go well, for sailing you are not yet ready’. Then there was Azzurra who in the 1983 edition made it up to the semifinals. “In my opinion – says Fabio Pozzo – Italian sailing owes a lot to Gianni Agnelli. Had it not been for him, there would not have been Azzurra. Without his commitment, the phone call to the Aga Khan, to the entrepreneurs, to Montezemolo would not have been there. a continuation of that meeting with Cino Ricci. This blue thread that binds Luna Rossa to Azzurra is due precisely to Avvocato Agnelli “.



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