Vincenzo Onorato continues to come under fire for his general lack of communication with hundreds of thousands of Mascalzone Latino fans as well as the general public in Italy and abroad, all of whom have a genuine interest in what the Challenger of Record has to say about AC 34.  It’s uncharacteristic for Onorato to keep his mouth shut in the face of criticism (one of the reasons we like him so much), and he answered some of the insults that have been flying around for months with a letter to Italian mag/site FareVela yesterday, as translated by Pierre Orphanidis/Valencia Sailing:

“I read Fare Vela Online with interest, every day. I have also read the criticism leveled at my club, seen as a sleeping partner of the Defender rather than a Challenger of Record worthy of its name. I partly feel responsible for these opinions as a direct result of our scant communication on the work we are carrying out. Oracle and Mascalzone, and their respective yachts clubs, inherited a disastrous Cup in terms of image, a result of the long and, I point out, legitimate litigation with Bertarelli. Russell and I meet almost every week and our teams are in daily contact.

“All decisions taken are thoroughly discussed and thought through. It is also true we are going through an international economic environment to say the least disastrous and this is a further incentive to act with utmost care and caution. My silence doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything but that we are humbly working, among other things, on carrying water to our mill. I’m Italian and my mill is called Italy, I would like to take to our country a series of events of the next Cup, just like I did last summer in La Maddalena.

“A Jesuit that taught me in school used to say: Look at the substance of things, not their form. That’s what I’m doing…”

But where is the pit-bull tough magnate we remember so well?  Where is the outspoken proponent of transparency, the guy who stood up to Bertarelli when everyone else was licking his crack? It seems that Vincenzo lays the blame at the feet of the economy, and that his speaking up about the coming AC would somehow make it harder to find sponsors – a disingenuous argument to say the least.

The Cup thrives on controversies, and by accepting a muzzle, Onorato does a disservice to his team, to his country, to potential sponsors, and to yachting. 

Either way, the disappearance of Vincenzo Onorato’s voice and larger-than-life personality from the public arena is easy to notice, and the world of yacht racing is a worse place for his absence in the name of “caution”.