Vincenzo Onorato: “We couldn’t have won”

Posted on 15 May 2011 by Valencia Sailing

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.

18 Comments For This Post

  1. acintel Says:

    Onorato tries to save the face. The reality is he did all wrong. If, as he says, he’s a sportsman that only compete to win, he never would have participated to the AC.
    He’s been a puppet, he remains a puppet, a shame for the sailing community.

    Onorato, go home, buy yourself a jacket so you won’t get sick and leave forever the AC alone.

  2. TooBad Says:

    Sad for Vincenzo, maybe he will return for AC35, I very much hope so.

  3. Matteo Says:

    The blame lies always with others, in Italy.
    So, even Mascalzone Latino and its patron, the man in dry suit (the Oracle’s one…), invoke the economic crisis as the only responsible for their failure.
    This is the second astonished interview after the Coutts one.
    After thanking Coutts, we now thank Mascalzone Latino for its outstanding project and for organizing a fantastic low-cost America’s Cup. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed sailors, riggers, designers, etc. increases.

  4. Lazy Sailor Says:

    The journo nails it. This Cup is a farce, a dog and pony show by Russel Coutts. Cayard is the dog and Dalton the pony. The remaining “challengers” are the fleas…

  5. Playa del Equipo Says:

    @Matteo,
    “Meanwhile, the number of unemployed sailors, riggers, designers, etc. increases.”

    Even more important is there were a number of well placed teams after the last cup who were not effected by the fiancial crisis and want to be in the AC, but choose not to put money into the Russell Coutts Retirement Fund.
    I think of Victory, Germany, Desafio Espanol,Shoshaloza…….
    Its a shame that Sn.Onerato was not so realist as these teams and realised he would not win much earlier so a real challenger could negotiate…

  6. Daxo Says:

    HEHE :-))))) He locks like a d…head. Did anyone think that he was going the hole way?
    Everyone knows that he was bending over for Oracle.

  7. wil zimmerli Says:

    It is a shame the new rules have eliminated some original challengers. The America’s Cup has always been a sport for the most rich. It’s principal concept was about the best technology, and the best sailors. As a result its competitors were willing to pour money into innovation, design, and obtaining the best crew. Over the years the rules have evolved in the attempt to continue to grow with the times. For years we were stuck with the dogs of the 12 metre class. It finally changed to the AC class which increased necessary funding but created a more dynamic race boat, but not in keeping with modern design, or more simply put, dogs compared to multihulls. The original concept of the race was to have the fastest boat driven by sail. If the rule was any sail boat of a certain length all competitors would show up with a multihull. I, for one, look forward to a much more entertaining event, with much more action, and thrills. Time and technology moves on. I am glad someone had the sense to have the America’s Cup move with it.

  8. Euan Says:

    from Scuttlebutteurope/cupinfo: “The 1974 COR, Royal Thames YC, withdrew from competition before they ever raced, but still conducted the regatta for the remaining challengers from France and Australia.”
    …so it has happened……get over it Onerato; we have.

    On the bright side, its a good start in clearing away the alarming crop of ‘dead wood’ associated with this Cup that might be cluttering up San Francisco Bay.

  9. ruben Says:

    Poor Vincenzo, he’s been taken for a ride in a cul-de-sac!!!!!! 34th AC SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT………

  10. mario sampaio Says:

    as always, the public in general has no clue as to the actual facts that are subjacent to this decision… however, onorato has NOT DEFENDED SAILING. he played the oracle game and was true about it. the jacket incident prooves it…

  11. Bob Fisher Says:

    I am deeply saddened by the decision of Vincenzo Onorato to withdraw the Mascalzone Latino team from AC34 – gone is one of the more colourful and charismatic team leaders – a great loss to the event. The Latin Rascals were always good value. But it is not, as Vincenzo suggests, the first time a Challenger of Record has failed to turn up with a boat. In 1974, my own club, the Royal Thames YC, failed to produce a boat but honoured its obligations and ran the challenger selection trials in Newport, RI. As yet, I have not seen a withdrawal by CNR which means that the Italian club is still the COR.

  12. help Says:

    Is it true that the protocol is to be changed saying that teams now do not need to compete in the AC45 regattas to be allowed to race the 72s for the cup? If this is indeed true, then what is the point of the AC45 regattas anyway? Confused…? i am.

  13. Ben Says:

    @help

    Well instead of being confused why don’t you read the amendments to the protocol. Simple really!!!!

    2. Article 9.1(c)
    Existing language:
    “by 30 April 2011, a performance bond of US$200,000 to assure a Competitor’s
    participation in the Event, and compliance with this Protocol;”
    to be replaced by:
    “by 30 April 2011, a performance bond of US$200,000 to assure a Competitor’s
    participation in the AC World Series held in AC45 Yachts until commencement of the
    AC World Series using AC72 Yachts and compliance with this Protocol during that
    period;”

  14. Bob Says:

    Congratulations to Vincenzo, Russell and Larry. Their AC34 bluff carries
    on. After signing a protocol dressed with the Defender’s uniform, allowing
    Oracle a three-year technical lead with the multihull and the wing, the
    famous Challenger of Record pulls out. What a gang! Now comes the turn of
    Russell’s best mate Paul, and they will manage to put their dream together:
    while the number of unemployed sailors, riggers and designers increases,
    they will fill their pockets. Well done.

  15. D4 Says:

    Filling their pockets has little to do with this event. They’ll do that on their own without this event.

    If the AC was all that was supporting this massive crew of outdated people, maybe its time for some job training in other areas and new time periods of the sport. Its called turn over. Roll over or die.

  16. help Says:

    To Ben,
    My question was simple.. I have heard rumours that the participation in the 45´s is no longer required. Is this the case or not?

  17. ICouldntGiveAMonkeys Says:

    Hey D4: ‘roll over or die’ Thats just what Coutts said to Cayard the other night… Before he rubbed his tum-tum.

  18. Mike Hunt Says:

    ……or before he rubbed his bum bum.

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