Goodbye to Giancarlo Lodigiani, one of the great gentlemen of sailing

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Giancarlo Lodigiani happy on Voscià bow. Today
Giancarlo Lodigiani happy at the bow of Voscià today (Photo by Paolo Amodei)

One of the last gentlemen of Italian sailing, Giancarlo Lodigiani, 62, left prematurely. Reserved but energetic, he spent his life promoting the essence of sailing, that of pure passion. In his career as a sailor, as president of AIVE (Associazione Italiana Vele d’Epoca), he has expressed the best of himself with balance and the quest to bring beautiful vintage boats out of the ghetto by opening them up to every enthusiast. This is evidenced by the “revolution” of the AIVE regatta circuit that were once reserved only for wooden boats and since last year have also hosted Classic Boat IOR boats.

His sailing life is a true manual of passion and beautiful boats. We remember her through her story collected by her sister Francesca, published in December 2022. To her and her family go the condolences of the Sailing Newspaper.


Giancarlo Lodigiani, sailing in the blood

Curious experience interviewing one’s brother. Moreover, seven years younger. Similar in some ways, different in others. In common is a great passion: the sea experienced under sail.

The ‘idea, which came to GdV deputy editor Eugenio Ruocco, was fully espoused by editor Luca Oriani. Lodigiani vs Lodigiani. Good friend. Probably, without realizing it, some IOR with whom I used to race in the 70s/80s between Liguria, Tuscany and Sardinia, did not give water to some Lunic in his family. And the Oriani does not forget….

Joking aside, it was all born in Cagliari in anticipation of the launch of Luna Rossa’s LEQ12, the prototype with the striking black, white and red optical livery. One of those moments when you chat and reminisce. Hence the talk about my brother, recently president of the AIVE….

Born in Milan to Genoese parents, 61 years old, Taurus zodiac sign, my brother Giancarlo Lodigiani(who depending on geological eras and latitudes is also known as Giampi, Gianca or Gianchi…..) has been married to Georgia for more than 30 years and has 2 daughters. Immediately after graduating in Economics and Business, earned with top marks and the added value of doing his thesis with Federico Caffè (famous Keynesian economist, ed.), he spent a long time in London in the City where Irene and Giulia, often his crew, were born.

Giancarlo Lodigiani
Image of Voscià taken from the video Amaremare made at Argentario by Dolcenera for Greenpeace (more than 5 million views on YouTube).

Giancarlo lives in Rome-he is CFO of a hotel group-but as soon as he can he goes to see how Voscià is doing, the beloved Sparkman & Stephens yawl launched by Sangermani in 1959, bought and restored in 2006 whose reunion is a beautiful play of fate and coincidence. But we will return to it.

Your first boat?

A Sunfish. I was 9 years old and it was a gift from my mother who felt a little guilty for “abandoning” me for a month in a Kinderheim in Germany to consolidate German as I went to German school.

Giancarlo Lodigiani aboard the Sunfish Pippo, his first boat.
Giancarlo Lodigiani aboard the Sunfish Pippo, his first boat.

With him I frolicked the length and breadth of the Tigullio Gulf. Equipped with a sponge, paddle, and hat. Sometimes a piece of focaccia. It wasn’t until I got to Argentario, Porto Ercole, at age 12, though, that I really “discovered” the wind….Beautiful thermals and September siroccas, never used a paddle again.

The sailing school at the Italian Yacht Club?

Age 14. We were still living in Genoa and I was enrolled in the Yacht sailing school. First year Eau Vive (the time of the mythical Shark had already faded ed.) then FJ and 420. I still remember as an instructor Nico Reggio explaining the regulations to us. Unforgettable first dinners strictly in suits and ties and also some very nice classmates.

First drift races?

At YCI helming first in FJ then on the competitive 420 team, but I confess it was almost more for fun than for winning. My bowman, Chicco Lagorio, and I were both quite shortsighted and the buoys were sometimes a real puzzle to spot.

Giancarlo Lodigiani and the sea?

I like the sea in all its forms: above, below, looking at it. I’ve been freediving since very young, scuba diving since age 18, windsurfing, water skiing, diving, whatever. One of the earliest memories is in Santa Margherita, in front of the house, I escaped from the young lady and ran along the pier to jump on a lancet and escape by rowing into the harbor. Too bad I missed my aim and ended up in the water. I was probably 4/5 years old, I couldn’t swim yet, and I went down like a rock.

Giancarlo Lodigiani
The famous moorers’ hand in front of a beach house in Santa Margherita that is the object of habitual embezzlement…

Then I opened my eyes, saw a line, grabbed it, and pulled myself to the surface: when I surfaced, the shrieks of the young lady and a sailor who was undressing to come and retrieve me. However, I was calm, I was not afraid, and from that moment I carried within me the feeling that the sea is my friend. A friend I respect because I know his fury when he is in a bad mood. And I am happy to have passed this passion on to my daughters.

What kind of sailor do you consider yourself to be?

Unlike you, constantly struggling in fierce buoy races in Dinghy, whether wooden or plastic, my real passion is going to sea. Some regattas I enjoy doing, but my passion is sailing, spending time at sea, floating in short.

giancarlo lodigiani
Giancarlo Lodigiani at age 11 bowman on Francesca’s 18-year-old 470.

Giancarlo Lodigiani Sailing and windsurfing instructor?

I started doing this when I was about 14 years old at CNVA (Circolo Nautico e della Vela Argentario, ed.) in the school for members’ children, who were themselves instructed by young members. Then during college-in the meantime we had moved from Genoa to Rome-in between exams I was a sailing and windsurfing instructor in Holiday Resorts. In Sardinia and the Maldives.

The Soling era?

Fabrizio Serena, one of the founders of CNVA, was an avid racer also in Soling and enlisted me as a bowman. Those were exciting years racing around Italy.

Epoch of the Soling Giancarlo Lodigiani
The Soling era: from left Fabrizio Serena di Lapigio, Giancarlo Lodigiani and Vittorio Bragadin.

An experience within an experience: whizzing by as fast as you can with a ton of Soling on your cart. Needless to say, the other passion of Fabrizio, then CSAI president, was motor racing.

Attaboy?

The beloved Attaboy! (sigh) 27-foot S&S, the boat you had in Porto Ercole in partnership with Roberto. You were always complaining that the batteries were dead, the water in the tanks stank….At that point the proposal: I’ll be your deckhand.

If I can use the boat, I guarantee you will always find it in place, ready to go out to sea. I already had my boating license, I was in college, every weekend I was at Argentario where we had a house, and I took care of Attaboy with great pleasure.

Giancarlo Lodigiani
Georgia, Giancarlo’s wife, secured to the dredge in a challenging sail on Attaboy.

I dragged several sweethearts to sea, in all seasons, many did not return. Georgia, on the other hand, has always sailed willingly. When I was in the military, we spent my entire leave there: three happy weeks. Since then we have not left each other. “That holy woman who puts up with you,” as Father used to say.

Giancarlo Lodigiani. Academy,Wellness Office and Morosini?

I am a naval complement officer, a “trunk” as career naval officers call us. I have fond memories of the Academy, although I did a lot of yard and tiller rides on the brig. After the Academy, the General Staff Welfare Office at the Ministry in Rome. The most fun part, however, was the last weeks of military service. In fact, I get a call from Commander Di Giovanni: Giancarlo, do you like Venice?“Of course I do! And Mario sends me to the Morosini in Venice where sailing courses for kids were held every year in June. An experience that I truly remember with great pleasure.

London and Georgia’s wedding gift laser?

I was in London, Giulietto, a dear friend arrives from Rome with the Laser on the roof of the car and asks me to host his Laser… Sure, I’m glad to see a little boat in the garden! Then he and Paul, PO of Star, started doing regattas at Queen Mother Reservoir, one of the man-made lakes near Heathrow Airport. That’ s how Georgia decided to give me a Laser as a wedding gift. I closed my eyes and imagined myself sailing with a nice mistral in Feniglia. It helped me endure the climate of London, even though the water was not salty….

London and the tidal weekend experience?

Ah, my shipwreck, a funny story….My boss, Sam van Holte, had a magnificent Sweden Yacht 38, with which he had gone around the world. One summer he invited my right-hand man Andrea, who was a sailor, Stefano, another collaborator, a Milanese man who had never been out on a boat before, and me for a weekend boat trip on the English Channel.

Sweden 38 and the ... too-close encounter with the Channel tides.
Sweden 38 and the…too-close encounter with the Channel tides.

When we met in London Sam keeps saying we have to hurry because of the tide, he is agitated and anxious, and we frankly do not understand his agitation. When we finally get out of the harbor lock, which is at the top of a fjord, we have to follow a path through the mede to navigate the navigable channel with the flowing water. I am pulling up the mainsail when I hear a shout from Sam. I don’t know anything about tides, and I don’t quite realize: in that area they are also 4 meters….to make a long story short, Sam has left a meda on the wrong side, we run aground, the tide ebbs, and we find ourselves with the boat lying on an ‘island that wasn’t there before, while the other boats parade past us waving….

We had to spend the whole day waiting for the tide to return. Taking advantage of the tilting stove, to keep my spirits up, I made a pasta with sauce that was very appealing! By 10 p.m. we were floating again, very very relieved.

Astarte II?

Back in Italy in Rome, the priority was to buy a boat and start sailing again. I showed Georgia a Grand Soleil 39 and a beautiful One Tonner S&S built by Gallinari in 68. Georgia was thrilled with the One Tonner: “If you want the daughters and I to come in the boat, buy the nice, wooden one.”

Astarte II (source https://nautipedia.it/)

Unfortunately, the thing didn’t work out, but I eventually found another One Tonner: Astarte II, a Sciarrelli design built by Craglietto in Monfalcone, well known for its many regattas in the Adriatic. We saw it in Viareggio after a regatta and under a big downpour: everything wet inside, sails in bulk, trepidatious owner who feared we would not like it. Instead we fell in love, handshake, and on March 31, 2001, she was ours.

The daughters, born in ’93 and ’95, grew up on it. Every weekend we were between Giglio and Giannutri, then cruises to Corsica and Elba. We really enjoyed it. Right away I participated in Argentario Sailing Week where the first year we had deck damage, with Georgia threatening heavy retaliation if the shipyard didn’t fix it in time for the cruise…..

Voscià?

The daughters were growing up, and Astarte II had become small in the sense that they no longer fit in their bunks. It was at that point that Luca, a friend who is Ella’s owner, pointed out to me a boat that he thought would suit us: Voscià. I am going to see it in Portofino where it is dry docked under the Pitosforo. Lightning strike!

Irene and Giulia Lodigiani aboard the Voscià
Irene and Giulia Lodigiani aboard the Voscià

I talk to shipwright Mino who puts me in touch with the owner, who after 32 years has decided to sell her. It turns out that Voscia used to be called Givare. I can’t believe it: it belonged to my mother’s friend’s husband, Comandante de La Penne (He didn’t want to be called Admiral, he was the Commander.) and I had been on board as a child.

Gigi Durand de La Penne, Giancarlo and Dad in Portofino
Thus Francesca: “Gigi Durand de La Penne, my brother Giancarlo and our dad in Portofino.”

There is a lot of work to be done; the boat has gone down a lot.

I think about it.

Voscià by Giancarlo Lodigiani
Voscià during Yacht Club Santo Stefano’s Argentario Sailing Week. Panerai wins in one edition (photo James Robinson Taylor)

In the end, however, if one does not try to realize dreams these alone do not do so. I decide to embark on the adventure: I meet the owner, we talk about price and shake hands in April for a delivery of the boat after the summer.

Restoration began in October 2006, the boat was launched in June 2007, and we finally began to sail it.

15.Voscià sailing in the Gulf of Naples
Voscià sailing in the Gulf of Naples

Georgia’s first comment when she sees her from the ground is :
“But she is chiattona!”
. Yes, the difference between a sleek One Tonner and a softly shaped yawl is obvious, but it is also what makes Voscià a very special boat: curvy water lines and great comfort inside. What a laugh Piero Ottone got when he heard Georgia’s comment…

Francesca Lodigiani

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