A true IOR icon, Brava, is now up for sale (13.5 m)


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Brava; 1980; Vallicelli
Brava; 1980; Vallicelli

As I was looking for something totally different, but suddently there she was. It almost doesn’t seem real, Brava (now Hero) is listed for sale at 50,000 euros… A combination of elements that is likely to lead quite a few people to race for it -excluding yours truly, though I would deeply desire a chance.

But, some may ask, why so much interest for such an old boat? It’s quickly said. Brava (13.50 m) is not just a boat, she is a little masterpiece, one that embodies history, personality and excellence. She is also a boat, sure, winner of anything that could be won in ’82-83, including a Fastnet. But underneath, it is much more than that.

Brava (now Hero) is up for sale

Icon of the IOR age, Brava is perhaps Vallicelli’s first major project, its platform towards the pinnacles of sailing. Before he, Argentovivo and Filodatorcere were designed, equally great boats, but Brava is Brava. After her opens indeed a new season for the design studio, as  Azzurra proves well, being the Italian challenger to the 1983 America’s Cup. To follow, countless other Brava as well. But this is the first one, Landolfi’s first Brava, Borlenghi’s ‘muse,’an incipit to an era.

Brava on Site in Minnesford
Brava on Site in Minnesford

Brava – between podiums, fame and big names

In the late 1970s, Pasquale Landolfi (icon of Italian offshore yachting) was the owner of a production Canados, designed by Vallicelli’s studio. But, as the 1980 season comes along, a new boat is necessary. The goals are theAdmiral’s Cup and the Sardinia Cup, and Vallicelli is the logical answer to make those dreams come true. Quickly said, in 1980 she arrives, Brava, a medium-to-heavy displacement that Vallicelli himself later described as peculiar design, almost a gamble.

Her water lines are graceful and yet aggressive, the maximum beam is very wide for the category, slightly set back, and the bow has very narrow semi-angles of attack. The hull is painted in that iconic cobalt blue and, the name, is set in gold. On board, every piece of gear is chosen without care for expense. Everything must match the top shelf of the range, even the hull, which is commissioned to be made in America, by the best shipyard in aluminum fabrication: the Minneford in City Island, just outside Manhattan.

The production turns out to be excellent, the boat is just splendid. After the ocean passage back towards Italy, the debut regatta takes place in Alassio, Liguria, for the opening of the racing season. As northern winds comes down strong, a standard of ligurian winters, at the helm we find a sailing ace, american John Marshall, soon to make history along with Brava. As a stronger gust sets in, Brava escapes in a chinese gybe, soon to be completely heeled on water. Marshall, at the helm, struggles unsuccessfully to take the control back as Landolfi, now underwater in the cockpit,  gazes aft on the photographer capturing the scene: a very young Carlo Borlenghi. It is the day that will turn his career around, giving us one of the most iconic photo sequences of the entire IOR season.

Brava; Alassio, 1980. Photos by Carlo Borlenghi

Leaving this prelude aside, the 1980 results were a mere 4th place at the Sardinia’s Cup. Not enough. For the following season the keel gets changed and another couple of modifications are made. No dice, the Italian team suffers at the 1981 Fastnet, 600 very hard miles, which come as a necessary lesson. However, experience is made, tuning the boat to perfection. 1982 and 1983 arrive and Brava wins everything she could grab, including two Italian championships, the 1982 Sardinia’s Cup, and finally the 1983 Fastnet. It is the birth of a myth, a myth that Pasquale Landolfi will never abandon, becoming the reference shipowner of Italian offshore, a sailing icon, together with Brava, which will be followed by no less than six namesakes, four One Tonners, an ILC 40 and an IMS 50.

A great legacy

That is why Brava is not just a 43-year-old boat. She is the protagonist of an epic season, a IOR icon and champion, and the witness of an endless passion, that of Landolfi, who will continue to carry on Italy’s offshore passion, along with growing generations of sailors. On Landolfi’s many Brava, the greatest designers have tried their hand and the greatest helmsmen have grown up. Thanks to him, the prestigious One Ton Cups were won, the various Admiral’s Cups, and, as if that were not enough, we got to see Azzurra compete towards the America’s Cup, thanks to his support for the project of Avvocato Agnelli and the Aga Kahn. Everything, starting with this first Brava, now for sale.

A photo of Brava Q8 at the 1995 Admiral's Cup.
A photo of Brava Q8 at the 1995 Admiral’s Cup.

Article by Doi De Luise



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