Francesco “Cicco” Rapetti: “Spending 10 years with Alinghi, and the best crew in the world, was and is an honour that will stay with me forever”
Francesco Rapetti, known as “Cicco”, has taken his place in the history of Italian sailing and the America’s Cup for having been the first Italian to win the Cup and, until now, the only one to have won it twice, both as a challenger and defender leading a crew.
Francesco Rapetti, known as “Cicco”, is an Italian sailor from Santa Margherita Ligure, taking his place in the history of Italian sailing and the America’s Cup for having been the first Italian to win the Cup and, until now, the only one to have won it twice, both as a challenger and defender leading a crew!
He cut his teeth in sailing in the waters of his home town, Santa Margherita Ligure, where he was born, and where Rapetti built himself a country house. The sailor from Tigullio, however, studied in Milan for a time.
After having achieved years of experience on board Italian vessels, like the Moro di Venezia, Mandrake, Brava Q8, Cannonball, Abracadabra and Luna Rossa (in the 1999 – 2000 season), in 2000 he joined the Alinghi as mastman. It was on board the Alinghi that, in 2003, Cicco Rapetti won the America’s Cup and, in the same year, he also won the Louis Vuitton Cup.
Rapetti is also the only sailor to have raced with the number 1 class America’s Cup, the number identifying the Moro di Venezia ITA1, the first boat set up by Raul Gardini for the 1992 campaign. Number 100, instead, will be the Alinghi.
Cicco Rapetti, how did you first begin sailing?
I began on the Cannonball Maxi72 that belonged to Mister Ferrari, then went on to the Moro di Venezia.
In your stories and anecdotes we always hear about Portofino. What do you miss the most about your local sea when you are travelling around the world?
I don’t miss the water. It is also thanks to my childhood spent in Portofino, where I was able to forge my character, that I have been successful in my work.
The Moro di Venezia, Luna Rossa and Alinghi: an enviable resume for any sailor. How did your encounter go with these great teams of Italian and international sailing?
With the Moro di Venezia, I was little more than a child, and together with a group of other kids, I discovered the sport and the teamwork. Luna Rossa helped my technique improve and prepared me for the Alinghi, which was the best America’s Cup experience for me.
Spending 10 years with Alinghi, and the best crew in the world, was and is an honour that will stay with me forever.
You were the first Italian to “lift” the America’s cup, so much so that when you came home to Portofino you were greeted as a hero. What do you remember about those days?
The incredible party that my childhood friends organised that night, and the sheets hanging out of people’s windows overlooking the piazza with so many amazing things written on them, are the best memories.
In addition to the America’s Cup, are there other races you are more connected to than others?
Certainly! The World Championship on Roul Gardini’s 50” Abracadabra, the Admirals Cup on Pasquale Landolfi’s Brava Q8 and Giorgio Carriero’s Mandrake. These are on my high end racing podium.
Are there new challenges on the horizon? What wil Cicco Rapetti do now?
The challenges at sea have brought a lot of success, so now I will look for challenges on land.
Photos by Claudio Colombo
BOATING IN A PORTRAIT A project by Liguria Nautica and Claudio Colombo showcasing a gallery of Ligurian people or those who have ties with our region, who have left their mark on Italian boating, or who have deep rooted connections with our sea. For each of them, we present a photographic portrait take by Claudio Colombo and an interview with our journalist, Giuseppe Orrù, to better know each person, in their personal lives as well.