the big time


the big time

Our longtime friend Vincenzo was also in Rome, with his usual big grin and slow, heavily-accented, but near-perfect English.  Onorato didn’t have much to say outside a few grazies to Rome’s mayor and the Commodore of the CNR, but given his crazy life right now, we’re surprised he even had time to make it to Rome in the first place.  Why, you ask?  Well, the Euros seemingly imminent implosion has to weigh on the mind of a shipping magnate like the Moby Lines owner, but Vincenzo also has 4 million reasons to be extremely stressed out this month after the Italian Supreme Court ruled that a government subsidy in that amount for his LVT event in Sardinia was illegal and the money was off the table just weeks before the biggest Louis Vuitton Trophy event yet, where the Cup’s Defender will face off against committed and potential challengers for the first time since Bertarelli was beaten to a pulp.  The LVT in La Maddalena starts in just two weeks and ends the first week in June.

Now Vincenzo Onorato ain’t poor, but he also isn’t the kind of guy for whom 4M Euros is chump change (like Larry is).  Fortune smiles on the brave, however, and Reuter’s recently broke the story that Onorato’s shipping giant Moby will go on the Initial Public Offering block this summer, potentially sending 500-700 million Euros in Vincenzo’s general direction. I think he’s gonna need a bigger boat.

Finally, Michele Tognozzi and the Anarchy junkies at the excellent Italian website Farevela translated a topical interview they did with Onorato in early March for the SAers to read.  Enjoy.

Rome – Vincenzo Onorato, Mascalzone Latino’s founder and owner of the ferry company Moby Lines, together with his new club, the Club Nautico di Roma, is the new Challenger of Record for the 34th America’s Cup.

Our chief editor Carlo Marzano interviewed Mr. Onorato, asking him to shed some light on the possible scenarios for the 34th edition of the Cup and on much more: offshore racing, the sailing school in Naples, Onorato’s relationship with the Neapolitan sailing clubs and Institutions, and the Louis Vuitton Trophy to be held at La Maddalena, in Sardinia. Here are some excerpts of the full interview that will be published in Fare Vela’s April issue. Onorato answers our questions concerning the most pressing issues in international sailing.

Fare Vela (FV): Is everything ready for the derby between Mascalzone Latino and Team Azzurra at the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Auckland?

Vincenzo Onorato (VO): Boiling everything down to an Italian derby against Azzurra seems quite simplistic to me.

FV: Could the fact of having issued the challenge to Larry Ellison a very young structure like the Club Nautico Roma be a problem?

VO: No, because the cornerstone of our endeavor is passion. When there are profound passion and enthusiasm, then the most important factor is that the Team feel at home. With the Club Nautico Roma we feel at home. And then if they need assistance, we’ll help out. Claudio Gorelli is such an outstanding man, that I know he is not afraid of new challenges.

FV: Mascalzone Latino is an Italian symbol, but 14 out of 17 sailors are not Italian. Why?

VO: Saying that “they are all foreigners” is a trivialization. In Auckland we embarked upon an adventure that must lead us to the America’s Cup. We are just starting to try out the people, the crew, and we are creating a shortlist, but the road ahead is still long.

We know the Italians. We lack foreign talent. I need to have an overall vision. It is as if I needed to thy out the largest number of sailors possible. We have to work on the brand, and be able to pull everything together. Let’s not forget that my old friend and sly fox Flavio Favini is in the afterguard. He knows what my intentions are. We must build a winning team, but at the same time we don’t have to go out tomorrow to win the Cup. We must work in order to have a team that is capable of performing well. The road is long and the game is wide open.

FV: Are you frightened by the idea that Ellison could come up with an extremely expensive Multihull America’s Cup?

VO: For what I know about Larry Ellison, I know that he found himself walking down this path because of Alinghi. We haven’t talked about anything so far. For two reasons. Number one, because we are still recovering from the post-Valencia hangover. Number two because we don’t want to make Bertarelli’s same mistake. The protocol must be pondered, considered, thought over, and Ellison is well aware of the issue of costs. I feel calm on this matter. Our role is to advise, to follow, to debate, and to maintain open channels of communication. Ellison is not Bertarelli, and I would like to stress this.

FV: Are you sure Ellison wants to limit costs, given that he won by spending huge amounts of money?

VO: Given what I know about Larry Ellison, and given how well I know Russell Coutts, I think we must look at the last Cup’s standoff as a separate issue. It was a face-to-face duel between two contestants instead of a multi-challenger race. There was a mutual …… I don’t want to say personal hate. He (Ellison) has the uttermost respect for Challenger races.

FV: Have you already had any contacts with other potential challengers?

VO: No, none. At the end of March, Russell and I will meet and we will begin thinking of what a good starting point might be. This is the important thing. I think we need to reduce costs drastically. And on this particular point I think there may an initial agreement in principle, but up to now it’s been a part of our after-dinner chatter.