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America’s Cup • Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team

Vasco Vascotto : "Competition is what excites me"

"I am the tactician… They’ve also given me the role of skipper"

Monday 12 February 2007Redaction SSS [Source RP]

While the testing between Ita 90 and Ita 99 continues, Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team skipper Vasco Vascotto answers some questions. An exceptional sailor, innovative yet still tied to his origins, extroverted, and a little “outside the lines” at times, Vasco represents the spirit of the Rascals.

MLCT: Vincenzo Onorato once said, “Vascotto has great team leadership skills”...what do you think?

VV: “First of all, I’d like to thank him. I think that this is one of my gifts: to be able to have the guys listen to me when it’s needed. But at the same time, I give a lot of responsibility to them and their work, so they are free to best express themselves. I think that a healthy relationship grows from this, that is fun and beneficial to everyone.”

MLCT: Ita 90 and Ita 99, two boats for the team to choose between…

VV: “Yes, we have two boats and this is important. It’s much too soon to tell which we will use. Obviously Ita 90 is the boat we have sailed a lot…Ita 99 is the result of a longer design process and brings with her the hope to have produced something even better.”

MLCT: What are your first impressions of Ita 99?

VV: “Everything’s fine. We are very happy…we put her in the water just one week after she arrived from Green Marine Marine Marine nationale . The day after the launch we went out and did the first structural tests. After the third day, we started testing with the two boats…if everything keeps going like this, knock on wood, we are going in the right direction.”

MLCT: Already the first days have brought some wind…

VV: “Yes, 15-16 knots with some waves…as someone already said, “so far, so good.” We feel really positive…”

MLCT: Have these last two weeks had a special significance for you?

VV: “They were important for all the team. We are happy with the work done by the shore team, the management, and all the technicians. I really believe that we are showing that we are worthy of a place in the Louis Vuitton Cup and that we are ready to partecipate.”

MLCT: Mascalzone Latino ITA 99 is now reality: what would you expect from it?

VV: “My dream is that it would be 10 minutes faster on the race course…then we wouldn’t even need a tactician, a helmsman, or anybody else!”

MLCT: What surprises do you expect from the Unveiling Day?

VV: “The surprises could reveal something fast, or something risky and extremely slow…I don’t know…but if I were in the shoes of a team who had very little training on the water, I would definitely try something more revolutionary.”

MLCT: What exactly is your role aboard the boat? Or more precisely, what do you do once the boat leaves the dock?

VV: “I am the tactician, that is the one who decides which side to take, where to go, directing the helmsman along the racecourse. They’ve also given me the role of skipper, or rather, the captain of the boat…the one who has the last word and final decision aboard. Skipper is a responsibility that you build over time, it’s not a title that you put on and “wear.”

MLCT: While preparing for the Cup, what, in your opinion, is the most difficult moment for a Team?

VV: “Surely the worst moment is when you suffer a series of defeats, like what happened to us at Trapani in 2005. Or when you think everything is going fine and then something breaks, and you realize that you must have done something wrong. I think that these are the most important moments for the team, because without difficulties you cannot grow.”

MLCT: Straulino, the great sailor, once revealed that he trained at night to increase his sensibility at the helm upwind, what is your secret weapon?

VV: “My secret weapon is in my crew; knowing that my guys are the best in the world – the ones I’d like to sail with forever - is the underlying force that pushes me to keep going forward.”

MLCT: What do the guys in your crew mean to you?

VV: “First and most important, they are my friends; but also, they are my crew.”

MLCT: It is now said that in racing, the boat is more important than the crew…

VV: “This could be true for some boats…but when you race in similar boats, like one-design class, it’s hard to say if it’s the boat that makes the difference. Actually I think it’s the opposite: it’s the crew that counts more than the boat.”

MLCT: Match race or Fleet race?

VV: “Fleet race…but I will probably change my mind the moment we, hopefully, will win the Cup! (and laughs…)”

MLCT: Did you reach your goals for 2006?

VV: “Looking at the results, absolutely; and considering that we did all our racing in Ita 77, we probably even exceeded our expectations.”

MLCT: What is the weakness in your team?

VV: “I would never say where our weakness is. I don’t want to give any hints to our competitors.”

MLCT: What do you think about the regatta course in Valencia?

VV: “Nice, difficult and unpredictable.”

MLCT: Louis Vuitton Act 13 concludes in April. Do you think the points earned from this will have a real influence on the Louis Vuitton Cup?

VV: “A small effect and only for the bottom of the ranking”

MLCT: What is your most vivid memory from the 2006 season?

VV: “The race against Alinghi in which we lost by only six seconds”

MLCT: Let’s shift to a more personal level and talk about Muggia, your hometown. How influential was it in your relationship with the sea and sailing?

VV: “It was fundamental. I am tied to it from when I was 6 years old and started sailing with my father in the Gulf of Muggia. Ever since then, I have always had ties to the sailing club of Muggia. Maybe it still is a small sailing club, but it has taught me so much in terms of character and understanding.”

MLCT: To be a good sailor is it necessary to be born by the sea?

VV: “No, but it is necessary to go there. Of course growing up in a city by the sea, like Trieste, makes it easier to get into sailing in respect to some other place. Also in Trieste there are a lot of sailing “gods” and great sailors, who I learned from, which makes it a real training ground for a lot of kids.”

MLCT: What pushed you and still pushes you towards the sea and sailing?

VV: “The sea of my hometown, Muggia, and my father. In the beginning I played soccer, like he did, but he advised me against continuing on with it, and told me, “Try sailing.”

MLCT: Do you have a lucky charm?

VV: “Yes, I do, but I believe that once you reveal it, it no longer brings you any more luck.”

MLCT: A psychologist once said that sailing is a training field for the soul…what do you think?

VV: “I think that they say a lot of things…”

MLCT: What excites you after all these years of hard work and success?

VV: “Competition is what excites me, before anything else. I am lucky and unlucky in that I have no memory. Every time I race, it’s like the first time for me. It is like when I was a kid, and I was trying to beat my friend Michele Giorgini, sailing from the port to the cardinal marks.”

MLCT: During the racing, the competition is so extreme that it takes over everything else. When does a sailor get to fully enjoy the sea?

VV: “Sometimes, it’s hard to realize you are at sea. It’s like being on the highway and trying to pass the car in the lane next to you…Maybe you really enjoy it more in moments like when you return to the port, exhausted from a race, or when you leave the port and are focussed on what’s going to happen next.”

MLCT: A spontaneous question…Do you ever go fishing?

VV: “No, no…”

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