Raul Gardini Story / 2 | The man who popularized sailing in Italy


Give or treat yourself to a subscription to the print + digital Journal of Sailing and for only 69 euros a year you get the magazine at home plus read it on your PC, smartphone and tablet. With a sea of advantages.

Now that the America’s Cup, with the announcement of the Prada Cup and the excitement around Luna Rossa, is back in the spotlight, we want to remember when Italy, really, relished the chance to raise the “old jug” to the sky. It has now been 26 years since Moro di Venezia’s “near feat,” reaching the Cup final and winning one of the races in the final match against the Americans-a “near feat” that would not have been possible without Raul Gardini. The man who made the Italian people “sailor”: in 1992, there was more than just soccer and cars being talked about in bars. They talked about bowsprits, rips, tacking. (In the photo, Raul Gardini is on the left. In the center and right is German Frers)

In two installments(CLICK HERE IF YOU MISSED THE FIRST, we bring you the fine article Antonio Vettese wrote for the Raul Gardini Foundation in The Sailing Times.


The great regatta, the highest sailing trophy was in those years at the end of a cycle, indeed, the era of the 12-meter International Tonnage was over, and after the challenge that had pitted the large monohull New Zealand against the catamaran Stras & Stripes, later the winner, potential participants were looking for a new tonnage formula that would allow for the creation of more technological boats, which will be the International America’s Cup Class. For the construction of hulls from switch aluminum to carbon, and Raul Gardini sees in it a challenge within a challenge, something that is useful in changing the image of the chemistry in which the ‘business of the group he manages is moving, but also directed toward the future. No longer heavy chemistry but technological innovation, so it was a challenge preparatory to the development of new materials and construction techniques that he sees as important for the industrial future. Gardini sees right but perhaps too early: planes, cars, furniture will soon have carbon parts. The challenge is thrown down in a big way and Raul Gardini to baffle his opponents wants to up the ante, make the game difficult. He states, “This challenge stems from the knowledge I have for sailing and the sea, which led me to tackle it from both the sporting and technological sides. In fact, with the Moro we want to carry out a pilot project in the area of advanced materials.”

German Frers and his firm are working to unravel the secrets of the new tonnage rule, decide to build two very different boats at first and then fine-tune the best parameters for the design.

The boats are built in Porto Marghera, where the ultra-modern Tencara shipyard is set up with all the best possible equipment. The launching of the first of five boats that will serve the union is in Venice, not just a technical launch but a big celebration involving the whole city, directed by Franco Zeffirelli there are major Italian industrialists but no politicians.

The Moor of Venice, red and with the golden lion trains first in Venice then in Palma de Majorca. Cayard wants to keep the crew going and participates by winning at the World 50-footer with Abracadabra then at the Fastnet Race with Passage to Venice, a large maxi.

The venue for the America’s Cup regattas is San Diego, California. The team sets up its base on Shelter Island not far from Point Loma. Paul Cayard and his crew prove to be the boat to beat at every possible opportunity, their preparation and speed unmatched by their opponents. In 1991 they won the world class world championship without difficulty, opponents watched. In order to participate in the world championship with two boats, they decided to show the third hull, which had just arrived from Italy, because unfortunately a mast on the second boat had broken during training. The beaters understand that his parameters are the best in the fleet, and those who can develop new projects take him as a starting point. On a break between training and racing Raul and Angelo are on the Todd tender at Guerriero Negro, a lagoon in Mexico where gray whales calve and mate-it’s a magical place where they fish and think about the races to come. It’s the big moment: sailing and the all-Italian high-tech chemistry project are together ready for the challenge.

At the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the challenger selection regatta, it is clear that there are two strong teams: New Zealand, which is moving forward with Peter Blake’s experience as team manager, and Il Moro di Venezia. In fact, they are the ones who make it to the final challengers who fight hard every day. The Kiwis have a boat designed by New Zealander Bruce Farr with a rather complex keel system (there is no keel and rudder but two keels that are both movable) that nevertheless proves to be extremely fast when wind conditions are ideal. The Moor suffers and seems destined to lose the game and the chance to contest the America’s Cup against the American defender from whose selections Bill Koch’s America Cubed is emerging, running more than Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes.

moor of venice
The launching of the Moor of Venice

When the situation is becoming difficult Gardini decides on a surprise move: The New Zealanders are using a boat with a bowsprit, and when they perform the gybe maneuver they use it for the tacking point of the headsail in a way that the America’s Cup jury, different from the Louis Vuitton Cup jury, had already ruled irregular. The Moro ended the fifth race of the finals (best of nine races are run, you have to get to five points) with a red flag of protest, Gardini convenes a press conference where he violently attacks his opponents and explains his reasons. In reality, the advantage of the maneuver the Kiwis perform can be quantified in a matter of seconds, but the effect of the charges and the subsequent decision of the Jury to penalize New Zealand by one point for them is psychologically devastating. The Kiwis began to lose and each day Moro became more confident and aggressive until the New Zealanders totally lost their minds and changed helmsman and tactician without, of course, any positive results except to debut what would be the Cup’s strongest man for years-Russell Coutts. Il Moro thus regained its disadvantage and by winning the Louis Vuitton Cup became the first Italian boat to compete in the America’s Cup.

The Moro of Venice reached the Cup final in 1992, and foreigners discovered that Italians were not just pizza spaghetti and mandolin

In the U.S. field, the defender selections brought Bill Koch and his millionaire team to prominence. Facing each other will be the two unions that have invested the most in manpower and technological research. Koch has built five boats that he considers revolutionary designed by an MIT team, but the one chosen is the closest to the ideas of Doug Peterson, who as a true nautical designer has best interpreted the lessons of the Moor by adding a key ingredient: it is narrower. In addition, the Americans, convinced that they are slower are taking great risks with the appendages, rudder and keel, and have drastically reduced their surface area. Fear of losing makes them take risks, but they guess the winning move.

From the very first confrontation it is clear, unfortunately, that any certainty and confidence built up before the races is wrong: the Americans are damn fast. Cayard and the Moro, after making more conservative choices confident of their means, fought back as best they could and won one of the six races that would be used to define the outcome. Il Moro remains, to this day, the only Italian boat to have won an America’s Cup race. Raul Gardini puts on a good face and declares “we tried our best, there was a lot of content in this challenge and it came out when it was needed. People understood what we wanted to do, the Moro won in its sentiment.”

The mayor of San Diego, Maureen O’Connor is a beautiful lady and administers a border city that lives out the desire of Mexicans to rush north in pursuit of a life without poverty. For the Moro crew and many Italians in reverse, life has been running on free nights to Tijuana and its Latin colors and flavors. That mayor greeted the Moor of Venice this way, creating some controversy in the American camp: “You Italians should be proud of these guys who represented your country with style and elegance and great competitive spirit, they are the real winners.”

After a few months it is Venice again that welcomes the Moor for a homecoming party. Still, the result was great, the crew cheered, Raul Gardini happy to have written a piece of sailing and sea history, at the Zattere who among the celebrating audience lit yet another cigarette and dictated an article for La Repubblica, “I will be back.”



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Check out the latest issue

Are you already a subscriber?

Ultimi annunci
Our social

Sign up for our Newsletter

We give you a gift

Sailing, its stories, all boats, accessories. Sign up now for our free newsletter and receive the best news selected by the Sailing Newspaper editorial staff each week. Plus we give you one month of GdV digitally on PC, Tablet, Smartphone. Enter your email below, agree to the Privacy Policy and click the “sign me up” button. You will receive a code to activate your month of GdV for free!

Once you click on the button below check your mailbox



You may also be interested in.


Sign in