Once upon a time in offshore racing, the stars of Italian offshore racing shined.
Italian pilots and teams paid to play or participated for pay, but all were in for the passion of the sport and the dream of taking home a generous purse with a trophy to match, and a cursory glance through vintage offshore history certainly validates the phenomenon.
Dapper and titled, rich in wealth and design, from 1968 to 1994 Italian teams ascended over all other participating countries in offshore racing.
1978 was a game-changer for the Italians when Volpe d’Argento, built in Italy by the Picchiotti shipyard won the American championship.
The silver 38ft aluminium CUV lit up the waters, driven by Francesco Cosentino (above), a member of Italy’s Parliament, affectionately named the ‘The Flying Secretary General’.
And then came Fabio Buzzi who entered the high-end boating scene with a fierce dominance in the late 1970’s and 80’s.
Buzzi claimed his final world title by winning the English 2010 Cowes Torquay UIM Marathon Race.
Buzzi set 3 additional world speed records from 2012, 2016, 2018 and died at the age of 76, attempting his final world speed record in 2019 doing what he loved best, speed!
A career that spanned nearly six decades, Buzzi won 10 World Championships, 22 European Championships and set 40 World Speed records.
His FB Design boats won a total of 52 World Championships – The nautical research game was changed by his ingenuity.
A spiral of decline for the Italian teams began in 1994 and its foothold as a leader in the world of high-end motor boating, boat building and design slowly slipped away.
Now Italian shipyards are falling into bankruptcy, Tuillo Abbate Group Srl went down for 235,000 Euro last year.
Abbate, was a legend of Italian motorboating and pleasure-craft racing the businessman and racer succumbed to COVID-19 in 2020.
The race calendar for the Italian offshore 2021 season is currently delayed by the red tape of bureaucracy, not helped by the Italian government’s Covid-19 legislation.
Italy’s nautical dreams are fading and will soon be dead in the water unless a series of practical measures are put into place.
Let us hope Italy can break free and reach the finish line shining as bright as their past, leading us into the future once again.