Volpina III, when the story of a boat is also the story of a family

vixen III
The Volpina III at a regatta in 2022 (left) and in the 1960s (right)

Today we tell you a beautiful story of a boat and a family. Similar in some ways to the revival of the legendary 42-foot Moby Dick, an iconic boat of the 1970s. This time, to see the light again is a boat by one of the designers most “hailed” by enthusiasts: the brilliant Giulio Cesare Carcano. The 5.50 m International Tonnage Volpina III.

Architect of the recovery Lamberto Cesari – all-round sailor, journalist, lover of foiling, catamarans and vintage boats – with his dad Stefano and brother Antonio. The boat, owned by their great-uncle Arvedi in 1967, had passed from hand to hand and ended up sitting idle in a shed until their grandchildren and great-grandchildren decided to buy it back, repossessing a boat that is a symbol of their family history.

Volpina III
The Cesari family racing on the Volpina III

Here is the story, written for us by Lamberto Cesari.

Volpina III returns home

Volpina III (sail number I – 44) belongs to a successful series of five boats in the 5.50 International Tonnage class designed by Giulio Cesare Carcano in the 1960s. Carcano was an eclectic Larian engineer who became the protagonist of some of the most diverse design innovations in the postwar period: Volpina III was designed for the selections for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics by studying local weather conditions, but to the Olympics went Agostino Straulino on Grifone. To be fair, it must be said that crossing bows with the most talented sailor of those years must not have left much chance for the brilliant engineer, who nevertheless took the satisfaction of selecting to represent Italy at the ’64 French Cup by finishing second.

Volpina III joins the family

In 1967 Volpina III became part of the family, and was bought by great-uncle Piero Arvedi, who together with his crew of Francesco Lugo and Mario Vignolo founded the Fraglia Vela Peschiera, a club that has given so much to Veronese and Garda sailing in its more than fifty-year history. Volpina III on the Garda participated in several Centomiglias, winning the 1969 edition in the class standings.

Volpina III - 11
The crew of the Volpina III at the 1964 Genoa regattas. Between Manara and Lanfranconi, center, designer Giulio Cesare Carcano

After the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, however, the class lost its Olympic status, and Piero preferred to switch to Soling in order to continue his competitive career.

How we took back Uncle Arvedi’s Volpina III.

Throughout those years Volpina III passed from hand to hand remaining between Garda and Lake Iseo, until finding it in September 2020 in a shed in Sulzano waiting for a new owner. Uncle had passed away a few years ago, and the idea of taking up one of his sailing legacies did not make us hesitate much in our decision.

The path at that point was as in all such cases quite long: the boat had been out of the water too long and could no longer pond, over the years modifications had been made outside the tonnage rules, and our goal was to bring her back to racing with the 5.50 S.I. of her age, after more than 50 years.

Volpina III, a journey into the mind of Carcano

It was not only a journey among shipyards, sailmakers, shipwrights but also A journey through time, into the mind of the brilliant engineer Carcano that to all the Volpina (and others) had given life, in the experience of those who had raced on this and other historic hulls, and in the constant compromise between classic and modern, sacred and profane that these works require. The help of the class was invaluable in this work starting with President Fabrizio Cavazza (owner of Volpina), to Vittorio Zaoli and Enzo Marolli, as well as the shipyard of Roberto Lorenzi and Gianni Torboli who masterfully completed the work.

The debut of the “new” Volpina III

So our debut was at Lake Starnberg in June 2022 for the customary gathering of the 5.50 S.I. long keel boats, the Enoshima Cup, a re-run of the 1964 Games strongly desired by the German athlete who participated in them. But the greatest satisfaction was showing up on the line with a totally family crew, with dad at the helm and two sons untangling on the sheets, bringing home all the trials and managing to sail in the middle of the fleet. A more than promising start.

As the German class president wrote to us at the news of our purchase “we never own them, we take care of them,” we are proud to be able to take care of Volpina III again.

Lamberto Cesari

Volpina III - 16

The card of the 5.50 S.I. Volpina III

Length 8.882 m
Width 1.926 m
Sail area 29.3 square meters
Weight 2,035 kg


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