Forty years of Azzurra

Celebrations took place yesterday at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda to mark the 40th anniversary of the first Italian challenge for the America’s Cup

Porto Cervo, 18th June 2023, 40th Anniversary of Azzurra 83. Photo credit: YCCS/Daniele Macis
Porto Cervo, 18th June 2023, 40th Anniversary of Azzurra 83. Photo credit: YCCS/Daniele Macis

Porto Cervo, 19th June 2023. It was 18th June 1983 when Azzurra took part in her first race in the Challenger Series of the 25th America’s Cup in Newport, Rhode Island. The opponent that day was France III and victory went to Azzurra, the first in a long series of wins that would take the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda’s 12 Metre yacht all the way to the semi-finals of the qualification stage.

Forty years later, the protagonists of that adventure which won over the hearts of Italians, saw Azzurra adopted as the sailing equivalent of the national football team, and paved the way for subsequent challenges for the America’s Cup, gathered in Porto Cervo for a celebratory dinner at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.

For more than 10 years, Azzurra ’83 has stood at the entrance to Porto Cervo marina in memory of that feat, and from the YCCS terrace guests were able to admire her dressed with Gran Pavese for the occasion. Last night, 18th June 2023, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, President of the YCCS Board of Directors, and Commodore Michael Illbruck welcomed the guests attending. The crew were present, led by Azzurra’s helmsman, Mauro Pelaschier, along with the heads of the syndicate that gave life to the challenge, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo and Riccardo Bonadeo, YCCS Commodore from 2008 to 2020. The boat’s designer, Andrea Vallicelli, also attended, along with Francesco Ettorre, President of the Italian Sailing Federation, and numerous YCCS members keen to mark this important anniversary.

Perhaps the most moving moment of the evening was the screening of a short film, now available online, made specially to celebrate the anniversary and tracing the story of Azzurra. Forty years on, the main protagonists recount the sporting adventure that made sailing widely popular for the first time in Italy, and brought the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda onto the international stage.

Contributors to the short film included Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Mauro Pelaschier, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Riccardo Bonadeo, Tiziano Nava, Nicolò Reggio, Nicola Sironi, Patrizia Ferri, Andrea Vallicelli, Enrico Isenburg, Carlo Borlenghi and Jacopo Marchi.

Princess Zahra Aga Khan welcomed the guests attending, recalling: “On this exact date, 18th June, in 1983, Azzurra took to the water in Newport to participate in the first qualifying races. In the first race, team Azzurra faced and triumphed over the team of France III. I would like to thank the Azzurra team, here with us today to remember and celebrate a unique sporting achievement, one to which my family has always had a strong connection and in which they had great faith. I would also like to thank the members of the Azzurra Syndicate, Riccardo Bonadeo and Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, for their vital support in the development of this sporting project, which is still today a benchmark. Finally, a special thought must go to Gianfranco Alberini, YCCS Commodore at that time.”

The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda once again extends its thanks to the entire Azzurra 83 team for their achievements.

TV Channels interested in broadcasting the film are asked to contact the Press Office, photos from the evening are available here, for further information contact the YCCS Press Office.

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