Vincenzo Onorato: “I reveal how Mascalzone Latino’s America’s Cup challenge was born”

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Vincenzo Onorato pictured at the helm of his Swan 38 Mascalzone Latino at the VELA Cup in Cala dei Sardi (photo by Simon Palfrader).

Vincenzo Onorato tells how one night in 2001 in Naples, Pa, in a reserved room at the Yacht Club Savoia, the crazy idea was born. To participate in the America’s Cup. Of the meeting that was to remain secret, as is always the case in Naples, everyone soon learned. Thus came to life the Mascalzone Latino challenge, the first in Southern Europe


by Vincenzo Onorato

Luca Oriani asked me to write for the legendary “Journal of Sailing,” and I, upon receiving this honor, gave him a “warning.” I am not a “politically correct” person. because I think, as a consummate old man, that it is a forced homogenization of common thinking to which everyone has to conform, it is not left or right, but just a common code where, under the carpet, there is not dust but rather the most blatant hypocrisy. It is the homogenization of ideas in the demented intellectual globalization of so-called civilized countries.

Okay, that said, and maybe or maybe accepted by you, I tell you not only about the genesis of Mascalzone Latino’s first challenge to the America’s Cup, but also about my Naples; you will feel as if you have rushed into the movie “Operation San Gennaro” with the great Totò whom I adore, but I will deal with the America’s Cup, or rather the first Neapolitan challenge, and I hope not the last, to that horrible teapot.

In 2001 or so, boh…. Alzheimer’s disease presses on, I got the unhealthy idea to issue the first challenge to the South American Cup. Certainly an established accomplice to Aglianico del Vulture. that for too many evenings I drank without restraint, and I still continue, unpunished and undaunted.

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Vincenzo Onorato’s America’s Cup Mascalzone Latino in 2007 in Valencia waters during Louis Vuitton Cup selections.

Well, my Club, was and is the Savoy Yacht Club, not yet Royal but, then as now, historic and beautiful. I telephoned my Friend and never too late President Pippo dalla Vecchia and told him I wanted to meet with him to launch, with our Club, the first Southern challenge to the Cup. His reaction was absolutely concrete and immediate:

“But do you feel good? Do you have money?” I answered him with my disarming honesty, “Fine, but otherwise sober. Money? I don’t have a penny!”

Goofy, who was a genius didn’t tell me off like I deserved to, but with the wisdom one uses with crazy people, he gave me an appointment at the Club, a few days later, go figure, at 11 p.m., that I remember, as they say in Naples, not 11 p.m. as they say in the North, for a super secret meeting at the Club.

So late at night when the members had finished their dinners and one could stay, very secretly, in the inner room dedicated to playing cards, something that, later on, Goofy also abolished by an edict that Royal. I on the stairs leading to the clubhouse, under the plaque “Santa Lucia tu tiene solo nu poche a mar…,” among tourists coming out of the “Bersagliera” and a few cockroaches taking advantage of the humidity, followed the vaults of the cigar smoke I smoked while waiting for the appointed time. Time passed slowly and the ineffable lightness that, it was already passing, deprived me of the thrill but not the spirit. At last the air cleared and arcane signs in the sky indicated that the meeting could be started, without any delay.

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It is 2003, and Mascalzone Latino’s crazy challenge is a reality. Lying aft in the waters of Auckland, New Zealand, is Vincenzo Onorato (left) doing the honors for host Luigi Carpaneda.

So it was…and it seemed something in between a meeting of a secret Masonic lodge or nostalgic Carbonarians. Here they were plotting something worse and more difficult than a coup, but rather something impossible: a challenge to the America’s Cup. It was all a magnificent folly. Plunging the pitiful reader into this reading fluctuating between the absurd and the demented requires a small but indispensable Historical premise: During World War II, Naples sent the Gestapo into…analysis because there was nothing that wasn’t known! In Naples, the word “discretion” is declined from different angles.

In more recent times (a vulgar self-referential quote), when I lived in my Family’s historic apartment, my parents traveled a lot because the Shipowners then used to follow the ships and I stayed alone and mostly happy with the legendary housekeeper, who has been with us for forty years, “Nannarella.” It happened that …in the absence of my Father, strict and formal (the opposite of me, see the children then …) I took advantage of it to sleep late. Forewarned, I would unplug the phone. Around noon from the office, unable to contact home, they phoned the doorman to look for me.

Communication then took place, cell phones did not exist, from the balcony or by means of stairwells. A folkloric and archaic system perhaps, but one that brightened the uvula of entire generations, unservile but tuneful from training and that in even earlier times represented an effective method of disseminating news, especially confidential news not only in the palace but also in the entire neighborhood.

One detail, coming back to us, the story took place in the building where I lived, we are talking about the sixth floor of a building. I would wake up, hysterical and ready to kill anyone, hearing the doorman yell, “Nannare what happened to o doctor? The office is looking for him!” Nannarella’s response was eschatological: “He’s rurmenn (sleeping) who knows what he did tonight!”

This is the beauty of Naples…if you survive, but back to us.

Late night. Darkness enveloped the Borgo Marinaro. The diners fidgeted circumspectly as if they were about to commit a crime, and perhaps they were. Correct and accurate, making the Cup is an economic and mental crime. By the way, Goofy, perhaps for no specific reason, motionless and statuesque as his tall figure was, repeated, “Let’s wait!” With his peremptory tone that allowed no retort. It was cold or hot, boh…but we waited; Goofy did not allow dialectics and he was his own beauty, a Bourbon Prince. Finally, with a nod, he gave the signal that we could withdraw to begin the meeting.

The small room was dimly lit and we were around a card table, a little tired, certainly embarrassed with me prey to the sailing demon consuming my soul and reason. Because sailing for me has always represented the absurd vice that demands to be indulged.

Goofy started from a distance, “Vincè but what are you holding in your head?” Me: “An all-Italian challenge!” He: “What are you nuts?” Me: “Assai, Preside, you know.” Goofy pressed, “The designer?” I answered without hesitation, “Giovanni Ceccarelli!” Goofy looked at me bewilderedly, “Cecca who?” Me quiet: “John Ceccarelli, he is young but you will see what beautiful boats he will design (for once the future proved me right)!” Goofy looked at me with that aplomb in his gaze that would have chilled a brazier. He was silent for a while and then whispered in a half-voice drawing in a sigh that would have blown out a thousand candles if they had been there.

“Mah.” Then he added, “You don’t want to steer? You’re not good for …mauling (match racing).” I shrugged my shoulders, pretending not to be the least bit hurt, and replied, “We’ll find a good one, maybe Neapolitan.” Goofy had saved the key question for last: “What about the money?” I roll my eyes, “San Gennaro will provide, maybe with the support of TIM.“. Eh, yes there is also a lot of Milan in our first challenge.

Goofy had a stunned look on his face, which was unusual for his person, and as I searched for words to convince him we heard a knock at the door. He was a sailor from the Borgo Marinaro, a crooked little old man smaller than his years with a mustache that was more greasy than discolored and matted hair that reflected the moon even in the darkened parlor far from the sky.

“Excuse me, is this where you are organizing the America’s Cup? ” he said with a disarming smile that revealed a tobacco-worn clack of teeth and a gold incisor that incomprehensibly gave him a respectable tone. We were all stunned! He continued unperturbed by making a half bow and emphasizing his words with hypnotic hand gestures that intimidated us present. The hand looked like a bat enormously larger than he was, but perhaps then it was not so true that the magnificent Aglianico hangover had faded so much.

“No because I would have my nephew who on the dinghy is very good and above all is content with little. Would we (Di Maio’s poetic license) need him?”

We looked at each other. “It may be,” we replied in unison. Then, regaining mastery of myself, I added, not without a slight emphasis of fatalism, “But you don’t know.”

Vincenzo Onorato*

*Who is Vincenzo Onorato

Vincenzo Onorato (Naples 1957) is one of Italy’s great shipowners and veilists. With his Mascalzone Latino team, founded in 1993, he has two America’s Cup appearances to his credit, In 2002 he achieved only one victory. In 2007 she showed herself to be more competitive, staying in the running for the semifinals for a long time. In his long career he has won everything, about everything. Farr 40, Cookson 50, Melges, IMS, Mumm 30, He began sailing on the family boat, the Alcyon, the bow-jib cutter owned by his father Achille, founder of the Navigation Company of the same name. His favorite boat is the “old” Swan 65 Mascalzone Latino XIV with whom he lives long periods touring the Mediterranean and going fishing, his other great passion besides sailing.



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