“The America’s Cup is a challenge for the rich,” says Cino Ricci

Time.news – “The America’s Cup is a challenge between people who have money. The boats of today are not sailboats, because sailing is an art, that art of making the boat sail in any wind condition. Red Moon? I saw it well, it goes very fast when there is a medium-light wind ”. Thus in an interview with Time.news, Cino Ricci, the first Italian skipper in the America’s Cup. It was 1983 when nin the American waters of Newport at the helm of the ‘Azzurra’ boat was the famous Romagna skipper.

That challenge was commissioned by Prince Aga Khan and the lawyer Gianni Agnelli. Ricci remembers that experience, legendary for Italian sailing, the ‘mother’ of the subsequent ones for ‘Il Moro di Venezia’, ‘Mascalzone Latino’ and ‘Luna Rossa’: to the semifinal and, as the lawyer had asked me, we did not make the figure of the chocolatiers ”.

‘Azzurra’, the symbolic boat of the Costa Smeralda Yacht Club, had united Italy. Never the sail had nailed millions of spectators in front of the small screen. Ricci is the man-symbol of the America’s Cup in Italy and, with pride, he specifies: “I did not come from the sailing of the Clubs, but from the sailboats of the fishermen of the Cervia area”.

38 years have passed from 1983 to 2021, the America’s Cup has changed in format but above all, the boats that compete for the silver pitcher, a sort of ‘Holy Grail’ for the sporting world, have been revolutionized. From 12-meter boats we moved on to the America’s Cup Class and then, in 2010, to trimarans and catamarans. From this year’s edition there is the revolutionary full-foiling monohull. Luna Rossa, already a finalist in 2000, is in the final against Team New Zealand. The regattas for the assignment of the 36th America’s Cup edition will not start before Wednesday 10 March following the lockdown in force in the city of Auckland due to the level 3 alert of Covid-19.

“I saw Luna Rossa very well, it is a balanced boat and goes very fast when there is a medium-light wind – analyzes Ricci today, at 87, who lives in his grandfather’s farmhouse in San Savino at the foot of Mount Titano in Romagna -. Team New Zealand hasn’t seen much but the boats are very similar, they were born together, from the same first draft of the project and then everyone went their own way. Knowing the New Zealanders, I think they have created a performance boat that prefers a medium-strong wind. In New Zealand the weather conditions, and therefore the wind, change suddenly, the perturbations do not find large masses of land and therefore pass quickly “.

Answering the question about the favorite boat, Ricci replies: “the bookmakers favor the local one, the New Zealanders know how to prepare the boats, I know the two wells very well (skipper and tacticians, ed) and I can say that they are the same: ours strong point is the wind but it must not be too strong “.

Regarding the new America’s Cup class boats compared to ‘his’ Azzurra, Cino Ricci is categorical: “These boats are not sailboats, the sailboat must be able to change the sails, the real challenge was the maneuvers of the crew doing with the sails. The art was to make the boat sail in the best possible way with any type of wind – points out the skipper -. Let’s remember that there were no written rules for the America’s Cup: it’s a challenge and everyone builds the boat they think is fastest. The type of boat to be used in the next edition is decided by the representative of the challengers, together with the owner, in the days leading up to the end of the current America’s Cup. Until the 1930s there were only two challengers, the British offered the boat to the owner who were the Americans ”.

Ricci reveals a nice anecdote. “In 1973 I was about to join the national team, I did the selection regattas in Marseille, I had won a lot. Later I was enrolled in the Admiral’s Cup regattas in England in which the participation of many world sailing clubs was expected – says the skipper -. Italy said I had to participate in other regattas but I had already booked the truck to take the boat to England. At that point I decided to sign up as a Monaco. Even Princess Carolina had come to see me. On that occasion, Umberto Agnelli and his son Giovanni also arrived. In the following years I often raced in America and I knew all the protagonists of the America’s Cup. The architect Andrea Vallicelli, who then designed ‘Azzurra’, asked me if I would be able to put together a crew for the 1983 edition. I answered positively but I said that the money had to be found. I went to Umberto Agnelli’s house, he informed his brother who said, ‘tell him Ricci to come to me’. I went to Turin and from that meeting the story of ‘Azzurra’ and our America’s Cup was born ”.

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