Vincenzo Onorato, owner of Mascalzone Latino, sent an open letter on Thursday, announcing that due to impossibility of finding the adequate funding to mount a competitive campaign, his team was withdrawing from the America’s Cup. Following his announcement, Onorato spoke to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, answering a number of straightforward questions. Onorato states his team would have been unable to be competitive but at the same he says it wouldn’t be “right” to put a spending cap in place.
The day after for Vincenzo Onorato is a slalom between accusations and regrets. A slalom that he, the charismatic owner of Mascalzone Latino, deals with the usual dose of irony and philosophy. He jokes a bit about it, he explains a bit but also feels some pain. It never happened that the Challenger of Record – a very prestigious role in the America’s Cup that is attributed to the first challenger that is called to make the rules together with the defender in the interests of all other participants – it has never happened, it is said, that a Challenger of Record would withdraw from the competition.
La Repubblica: Onorato, the comments on the international blogs and specialized media are pretty hard on you.
Vincenzo Onorato: This is also a demonstration of affection. They obviously love us.
La Repubblica: In essence, they say, how is it possible that you made the rules, the format of the competition is yours, the economic parameters are those chosen by you, and you first aren’t able to find the money?
Vincenzo Onorato: It’s an incorrect statement: we have found the money to do the Cup. Indeed I thank the sponsors that trusted us.
La Repubblica: Then why did you withdraw?
Vincenzo Onorato: Because we did not have enough funds to effectively compete with the big guys. That is, to try to win the Cup. I am a sportsman. A sailor and a sportsman. I really have no interest in participating without competing.
La Repubblica: That’s fine, but so – indeed – it seems that those that think the rules you have written are a farce, are right. That is, written in order to let participate many teams and leave to one, the richest, Oracle, the chance to win.
Vincenzo Onorato: Another silly dispute. The America’s Cup has never been, in its long tradition, a low-budget event. In fact, it has always been an event with escalating budgets. What we did – I mean the Challenger of Record and the Defender – was to build an event that had lower costs for the start ups. Costs that would allow anyone to participate. So we lowered the lower limit of expenditure. We haven’t touched the upper limit. This has never been the case in the America’s Cup. It wouldn’t have been right to change it.
La Repubblica: That means the next America’s Cup will be an event for a very few, billionaires.
Vincenzo Onorato: Well, I do not think so. There are a lot of entered teams.
La Repubblica: Teams that, just like Mascalzone, have found the budget to participate but not compete. In short, Ellison is winning the Cup at this moment.
Vincenzo Onorato: But no, someone will be able to compete. I think of Artemis and New Zealand…
La Repubblica: ..and that’s all. If you could go back would you do again everything you have done?
Vincenzo Onorato: Yes, I am very proud of our work. We did it with humility and without delusions of leadership. We have lowered costs by creating the AC45 class, which is beautiful and has not yet been appreciated for its full value. I am truly very proud.
La Repubblica: Would you wear again the Oracle jacket to sign your inscription? That gesture sent a rage throughout most of the international sailing community.
Vincenzo Onorato: It was bitterly cold that day. What was I supposed to do, get sick like an idiot? I was on the boat and I put on the first thing I found. Frankly, I refuse to believe that this could be a problem.
La Repubblica: Do you think about what Alinghi might be saying right now? You accused them of wanting to buy the Cup, of making an event for a few and now …
Vincenzo Onorato: Honestly, no. I do not think there is anything Alinghi can say. Their Cup was organized in a period different from the current one. In an economic boom. We are in the terminal phase of a crisis that has cut the legs of half the world.
La Repubblica: Who will be the next challenger of the record?
Vincenzo Onorato: I think that role will naturally be covered by Artemis.
La Repubblica: Do you have any recrimination? Maybe the government or some institution could have done something for you, the way it happened to New Zealand …
Vincenzo Onorato: No, no recrimination. When there is something wrong the first thing to do is ask where you were wrong. I have asked that myself a thousand times in the last few hours and my only response was that the general economic climate has left us no other possibility.