Though Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino failed to score a bullet on the first day of racing in the 2008 edition of Acura Key West Race Week, the team’s 2-2-3 ledger in the regatta’s opening three races–the first 3-race day in the event’s history–was strong enough to open a three-point lead in the 25-boat Farr 40 class over Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad and Peter de Ridder’s Mean Machine (both tied for second with ten points), and to score the first Boat of the Day prize. Shortly after receiving the award, 24-year-old trimmer Matteo Savelli spoke to Sailing World about the day’s winning effort.
Tell us about the day.
Today was a good day. We are leading the Farr 40 class. But everyone knows it’s a long week. Today was just the first day of racing. There are seven more races to go. There’s no discard in this class. Everyone’s doing very well, the second-place guys are only three points behind us. It’ll be a very hard week. I think we’ll need to fight to keep this situation. No one is going to wait for us. This fleet is very strong.
Were the conditions today (shifty, winds topping out at around 20 knots) especially favorable?
It was a little bit shifty, a lot of gusts but pretty good for us.
What are you running for sails?
My dad is (North sailmaker) Marco Savelli (of North Italy in Genoa). We have North 3-DL and we’ll be working on this sail program through the worlds in Miami.
Is this your first Key West?
No, no, this is my fourth or fifth Key West. I think Key West is one of the most beautiful places to sail, like Sardinia, like Miami. It’s a very good place to sail.
How does your team approach Key West? Do you come here every year and stick to a routine, stay at the same place?
Ya, we stay in the same place. We have a guy organize that for us. We have our Italian chef for all our dinners. It’s very good for us. He comes from Italy every time for us. He’s part of the team. Everyone stays ashore, and hanging out around the kitchen is a very big thing.
How much time before the regatta did you arrive? Did you manage to get some practice time in beforehand?
We had a couple of days of training before it started. Our season finished in Sydney in the first week of December. And as usual we were back here in Key West for the first regatta of the year.
Who was the Most Valuable Crewmember today? Who did the best job onboard?
Adrian Stead, our tactician, our team manager and coordinator, did a great job today. I think he’s one of the best sailors in the world, and he’s kept the team focused for many, many years. We are happy to have him on the team. But the key to our team is that we’ve stayed together for many, many years.
What about the boat? Anything, gear-wise, that really helped you today?
Nothing special. Today was really about the team. I think the Farr 40 fleet is very close. If you see the standings, there are three or four boats very close to us. As you know, the Farr 40 class is very tough.
Let’s go back through the racing. Was there any one tactical moment, or maneuver, that stands out from today?
I think our average score today showed we sailed well, we kept concentration across the team. It was really about the team working together the entire race. And Adrian did a great job keeping us moving up the course.
What’s the game plan for Wednesday?
We won’t change anything. It’s a hard week. There’s a long way to go. Each race is important. We need to be very careful.
And tonight? Any celebration of the day’s accomplishment?
Nothing. Dinner. Then bed.