The indisputable talent of the “Baron” who made Italy dream.


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When Francesco De Angelis was elected 1996 Sailor of the Year, the best was yet to come.

Celebrity for the phlegmatic Neapolitan sailor (they call him “the Baron”) would come as helmsman of Luna Rossa in the successful 2000 America’s Cup campaign, when, after winning the Louis Vuitton Cup (By the way, De Angelis was the only non-Anglo-Saxon coxswain to succeed). we found ourselves in the finals against the unbeatable Kiwies captained by “that obnoxious guy” Russell Coutts and the late Peter Blake. Francesco De Angelis and the crew of the “Silver Bullet,” as Luna Rossa was nicknamed, kept us awake for nights on end, following the exciting Cup races. In the 2003 XXXI America’s Cup campaign, again at the helm of Luna Rossa, Baron reached the semifinals, having to surrender to One World. In 2007 he again participated with Luna Rossa in the XXXII America’s Cup, again reaching the final of the Louis Vuitton Cup after defeating BMW Oracle Racing 5 to 1. In the final, Luna Rossa must surrender to the supremacy of Team New Zealand who, history repeats itself, defeated it by 5 wins to 0.

At Middle Sea Race De Angelis calls tactics aboard TP52 B2

Born in Naples in 1960, De Angelis is a six-time world champion in various classes: in 1987 in Capri J24 class, in 1989 in Naples and 1992 in Denmark One Tonner class, in 1995 in Denmark and 1996 in Greece ILC40 class, in 2008 in Greece ORC International class. Winner of the Admiral’s Cup in 1995, three Sardinia Cups, two Swan Cups, and the Middle Sea Race Trophy (2005, 2013, 2015), he rounds out his palmarès with two European titles and nine Italian titles in different classes. He has received four Gold Medals for sporting valor from CONI and is an Honorary Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. When you see it around the race courses, it wins. For example, he took home the Rolex Middle Sea Race as tactician of Michele Galli’s TP52 B2 in 2013: in the race all instruments were blown, and as a thoroughbred skipper he used only “flair.”

With Pigi Loro Piana on My Song

Taken from The Journal of Sailing April 1996. “The talent of Francesco De Angelis, 35, from Naples, has never been questioned. Italian champion with the Star, three tricolour titles, one European and one world title with the J24 and two victories at the One Ton Cup are just some of Baron’s most important achievements. Although Francesco De Angelis never considers one victory more important than another (“I dream of successes that can reward the activity in which I am engaged,” he told us when we asked him what victory he dreams of in the future), 1995 will be hard for him to forget: at the helm of Pasquale Landolfi’s ILC 40 Brava Q8 he made a decisive contribution to the Italian triumph at the Admiral’s Cup, achieving no less than five first places out of nine regattas, including victory in the Fastnet and, of course, in the class classification. Before that, again with Brava Q8, he had “warmed up” by winning the Kieler Woche and the first ILC 40 World Championship. Back in Italy, two weeks later, he won the IMS Italian Absolute Offshore Championship in Cala Galera at the helm of Federico Oriani’s brand new ILC 30 Kicker. To stop him they had to cancel the first edition of the ILC 30 World Championship scheduled for last September in Spain. This is Francesco De Angelis’ third nomination for the Golden Helm after those in 1992 (second at the 1991 One Ton Cup), 1993 (first at the 1992 One Ton Cup).”

Taken from The Journal of Sailing April 1996. “Francesco De Angelis, 35 years old from Naples but living in Milan, is the 1996 Sailor of the Year. The prestigious Timone d’Oro, which Il Giornale della Vela awards annually to the Italian helmsman who has most distinguished himself over the course of the just-completed racing season, was presented to him at the traditional awards ceremony held in Rome. In 1995 De Angelis reported major successes: winning the first IL C 40 Class World Championship and the Admiral’s Cup at the helm of Brava Q8 and the IMS Italian Absolute Offshore Championship at the helm of Kicker, the ILC 30 owned by owner Federico Oriani. In presenting him with the Golden Helm, the jury of the Sailor of the Year wanted to honor him for a season that saw him as a genuine protagonist both internationally and nationally. Before Francesco De Angelis, Claudio Maletto and Pasquale Landolfi were honored in order.

On your third nomination, you finally managed to win the Sailor of the Year award. How did it affect you?
They gave it to me out of exhaustion (Francis jokes, ed.). I am very happy, even though I was already satisfied for the sole reason of being part of the group of candidates to win the award, which this year consisted of very strong helmsmen. That of Sailor of the Year is an important award, given for several years now and previously won by very good helmsmen.

Given the caliber of the names of the nominees for victory, what judgment do you give to the work of the jury that chose you?
The helmsmen who could win this award represented two clearly different activities: Olympic sailing and offshore sailing. Enrico Chieffi and the Pirinoli brothers achieved splendid results in 1995, but this year they have the great opportunity of the Olympics. I am sure that next year’s Sailor of the Year will be one of the Olympians. The jury will have considered the fact that in 1995 Italy won the Admiral’s Cup for the first time, which probably weighed in their choice of helmsman to be awarded. Honestly, they all deserved to win. I think the important thing is to get to be one of the final title aspirants with good results. Then the criteria by which the jury is inspired cannot be known, even if they explain it with the rationale. The important thing though is to get the nomination, then when you are there, who won a world championship on an Olympic class or who won an Admiral’s Cup matters little.

So are you confident in the Italians going to the Olympics?
I am superstitious; I talk little about my own regattas, let alone feel like talking about others’. Certainly our Olympians are sailors of high technical level who have worked hard and prepared themselves in the best way to face that appointment. Then it just becomes a matter of nerves, because at those levels, among all those champions, it is the emotional resilience that makes the difference.

How will 1996 engage you?
The season will focus mainly on the ILC 40 and ILC 30 world championships (in which Francesco De Angelis will take part at the helm of Brava Q8 and Kicker, respectively, ed.). Then there are other appointments that constitute the preparation stages for these two important appointments. For the rest, you have to look around a bit because you have to have a good understanding of where the sail will go in order to choose what to do. We are not experiencing a particularly bright period. Olympic activity is fine, but it is very time-consuming, and from that point of view it is unfortunately no longer affordable. High-seas activity, on the other hand, is experiencing a period of confusion. It was thought that IMS could be a formula with a great future. It still can be, but the stages of its evolution are certainly dotted with many problems.”




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