Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Teamï»¿
CupInfo Interviews Mascalzone's Tom Weaver
The Rascals Return
Despite early elimination from the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup, Mascalzone Latino sailed with a refreshing attitude, straightforwardly admitting that they were there to learn from the experience, having fun along the way. Before leaving New Zealand team owner Vincenzo Onorato said the Latin Rascals would be back next time intending to win...and he kept his word.
Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team was the ninth team to file a challenge for the 32nd America's Cup, in March, 2005.
The team arrived in Valencia last spring for Louis Vuitton Acts 4 and 5 ready to race. The syndicate had obviously done their homework, adding key team members on and off the water, and selling their former race boat ITA-72 while picking up Team Dennis Conner's innovative pair of 2003 hulls. Harry Dunning, a veteran of ACC design efforts in the offices of both Farr and Reichel-Pugh, is leading the design team and Vasco Vascotto is skipper.
In Act 4 they won four match races, placing 8th among the challengers. In Act 5 they rose to 5th overall, only one point behind BMW Oracle. Act 6 and 7 saw them finishing 7th and 9th overall respectively.
CupInfo asked Team Manager Tom Weaver about the team's progress, design efforts, and the Italian attitude toward sports:
CI: When you acquired the former Stars & Stripes boats, were both ITA-66 and ITA-77 modified to the version 5 ACC rule? If so, why did you select ITA-77 for Louis Vuitton Acts 4 and 5? What about the fall Acts?
Tom Weaver: We have modified both boats to version 5 and have used them extensively for in-house testing and training. We have had a very good period in Valencia getting data for the designers and developing parts to go on the new boats. We are using the same boat, ITA-77, for all the acts this year. Even though she sank in the states she is a good boat and we have spent some time personalizing her for our style of sailing.
CI: Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team had very little time to prepare for sailing in June, including modification of the race boat to v5. Was design work going on behind the scenes before official entry was declared?
Tom Weaver: Yes.
CI: Conventional wisdom says v5 boats will be very similar and therefore have close racing. What area offers the greatest gains (hull, appendages, rig or sails)? Do you expect anything radical for 2007?
Tom Weaver: The rig and aero package will be the area most teams will be looking to make gains, mostly subtle changes, but it all adds up. Reducing weight in the boat to put this in the bulb is pure speed. In the appendage package there is the trade-off between low center of gravity versus wetted surface area, all of these balanced against the “style” of boat the design team are trying to arrive at. A boat only needs to be a little bit faster to make the sailors look smart. This is the America’s Cup, there will probably be something “radical”, but the winning package will be well thought out and thoroughly tested, unless we are allowed to use sliding keels….now that would be radical, hmmm.
CI: What’s your opinion of the new v5 configuration? Have the teams had enough time to extract speed from the many changes thus far?
Tom Weaver: It certainly makes the designer’s job a bit harder. The tolerances under v5 do not give any room for trade-offs to get a rating certificate. For instance if the boat does not float to its marks, in previous versions we could trade this for a bit of sail area. Now there are hard limits on length, draft, and weight, the range of which is so small we are talking millimeters! All the boats are therefore much more in the same box so the racing is a bit closer through the wind range. There are lots of areas where gains can be made, mostly in the mast. Only the teams that started last year have had a chance to build v5 masts. This is a significant advantage as they are lighter and stiffer, all the weight saving going into the bulb and the stiffness helps support the extremely large mainsail roaches the boats are now carrying.
CI: Sailors on your crew have done many types of races, ranging from around the cans to circling the globe. What do you think of the current short course America’s Cup format? Is there ample opportunity to pass, or does the race come down to winning the start and/or taking advantage of mistakes?
Tom Weaver: At 25m long the America’s Cup boat is a very big boat and it takes a lot to get around one when you are behind. The race course in Valencia can be quite one sided, particularly once the sea breeze has stabilized. The start is going to play a big part of this Cup.
CI: In a recent article, Tom, you called the Louis Vuitton Acts a testing ground, an opportunity to “check in on the competition”. Who benefits the most, those who have been sailing and testing since the last cup, or newer entries?
Tom Weaver: Everyone, the established teams can make sure they are on track and the newer teams can use all the events to accelerate their learning curve. Different to previous editions the smaller teams will have the opportunity to be much closer and will win races.
CI: So what was learned while checking in with the competition and what's the team's focus going forward this year?
Our boat is not so bad, we were bringing untested gear on line which is always a risk and learning the new systems as we went. Match racing is important and it is an area we will be working on.
CI: You have an interesting mix of experience on the Mascalzone roster. Where is the team on the learning curve as far as mastering the maneuvering of these boats and sailing this type of event?
Tom Weaver: Maneuvers are very important, and we have great guys in the squad developing the boat to ensure the maneuvers are smooth. A small crew work error can start a chain of disasters aboard, costing a race. Every race win is important.
CI: Two in your team, Fabrizio Marabini and Silvio Arrivabene, are both sailors and also members of the design team. Does it help to provide direct input from the boat to the designers? Could you explain the interaction?
Tom Weaver: It's essential to have the interaction. Fabrizio is an aerospace geek and is the testing manager in the team, he analyses all the on-water testing getting the feedback to the fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, sail, and boat designers. Silvio has the experience as a navigator in the Cup and is a very smart cookie with an advanced degree in naval architecture; he has a balanced view of the design versus sailing operations. We operate as a team and most of our design team are full-time onsite which I consider fundamental as a lot of the interaction between sailors, designers, and technicians occurs around the dinner table…makes it a little boring for wives and girlfriends.
CI: Your team, the Germans, and the Swedes entered rather late and have smaller syndicates relatively speaking, yet all sailed well in Valencia. Care to comment?
Tom Weaver: There is a long way to go. It is a marathon not sprint, but hey it's nice to win races.
CI: There has been talk of the “Big Four”, meaning Alinghi, BMW Oracle, ETNZ and Luna Rossa. Actually that’s three challengers since the defender has no place in the Louis Vuitton elimination series. With two years to go and eight competitive challengers, will those three hold their spots?
Tom Weaver: They should, but this is the America’s Cup and there are some very solid looking teams getting their act together in the middle of the pack
CI: The 2007 America’s Cup has three Italian teams, more than from any other nation. Naples was a venue contestant, included in the final five. Tell us what a Naples event might be like. And why has the event caught on so well in Italy?
Tom Weaver: Passion and Latin fever in the heart of south Italy.....great food, good wine, sun and seabreeze in the summer. A natural amphitheater with Mount Vesuvius dominating the skyline, with islands like Capri and Iscia in the Gulf of Napoli. Sounds good. It has been said that the Italians are a nation of fishermen and farmers. I suppose the fishermen group love the sea and all that is on it. They are passionate about their national sports teams and in the history of the Americas Cup they have come very close….
CI: This year the Louis Vuitton Acts 8 and 9 are in Trapani, Sicily. What kind of fan participation would you predict from Italian sailing fans when the event moves to home waters?
Tom Weaver: There are no hotel rooms left! So I think there will be a seaborne armada that will really look like a city on the water.
CI: Vincenzo Onerato said “This time we’re giving it all we’ve got” and stated he wants to “...make the America’s Cup an Italian event.” During the 2000 Louis Vuitton finals and America’s Cup millions of Italians went without sleep to watch the racing. Is Italy's GDP going to suffer during sailing?
Tom Weaver: The spring of 2007 the whole country will be cheering for an Italian victory in the America’s Cup, the GDP will take a hit. However if Italians win the cup this will more than make up for it.
CupInfo: In 2002 and 2003 the Rascals went to Auckland to learn, coming within one race of sailing in the eight team elimination series. What would it mean for Italian sailors to win the America's Cup?
Tom Weaver: Italians are passionate about life, winning the America’s Cup for our team is a lifetime goal. To date we celebrate each win and rue each loss. The long term goal is winning the cup. It might take some time but the party will last for years!
--- Tom, thanks very much for taking the time to answer our questions! The CupInfo Team
Tom's background includes significant work as a project manager for the development of advanced racing yachts, backed up by multiple degrees in naval architecture and engineering in addition to his extensive ocean racing experience.
Other sailing achievements:
please contact us: