14 Questions to … Pietro Fantoni
- 1) Your first time on a sailing boat? I think at six with my dad and my mom. The following year they gave me an Optimist. Since then I never stopped thinking about boats. - 2) Your first time on a Snipe? In 1999, I sailed for the first time on a Snipe. Then in 2000 I started racing. Thanks to the advice of Enrico Michel I qualified for the 2001 Worlds. - 3) The most bizzare thing that happened in a regatta? There are a lot of bizarre regattas. ...
– 1) Your first time on a sailing boat?
I think at six with my dad and my mom. The following year they gave me an Optimist. Since then I never stopped thinking about boats.
– 2) Your first time on a Snipe?
In 1999, I sailed for the first time on a Snipe. Then in 2000 I started racing. Thanks to the advice of Enrico Michel I qualified for the 2001 Worlds.
– 3) The most bizzare thing that happened in a regatta?
There are a lot of bizarre regattas.
I was sailing in a race on the Upper Garda with my crew Jacopo Ferrari Bravo. The Garda is like a funnel, oriented north-south, which narrows to the north. With the wind from the south you should go toward the nearest shore, right or left, depending on where the starting line is. So the strategy is very simple: get a good start and take the long tack toward the favored side of the lake and then many tacks near the coast, up to the lay line.
That day the line was in the middle, a little closer to the shore on the right. Well, at 10 seconds to the start the boat to windward capsized on us, with their mast falling along our jibstay until it ended up on our bow. We got stuck with the other boat and it was a bit of time before we started.
With all the fleet going right, Jacopo decided we should go left. Once close to the shore on the left, we were in the middle of a bunch of Melges 24s that were training, tacking repeatedly to cover each other and also us. We shouted, “Excuse me, please can you not tack on us? We are sailing a regatta!” From a boat we heard:” “Which regatta?” And we answered, “The one on the other side of the lake!” Seeing the puzzled looks and thinking of the strange answers that we gave, we laughed, both us and the guys on the Melges 24.
The funny thing was that when we converged to the top mark, we realized that the right decision was sailing with the Melges 24s. We rounded second, despite the terrible start.
Then there are two stories about communication on board. The first concerns a regatta in Punta Marina. Kathleen Tocke had just arrived in Italy and wanted to learn Italian. So we decided to shift roles onboard and do a race with me as skipper and her as crew, speaking English, and the following race with her as skipper and me as crew, speaking in Italian. Communication on board was a disaster … I don’t know if it was the Italian language or Italian crew. It is not easy to speak a foreign language during the heat of battle!
The second communication story was in Clearwater with Bridget Creney as my crew. I remember that the boat slowed down suddenly and I could feel “something” (some seaweed) on the centerboard. I was trying to remember the right word (in English) … nothing … a complete lack of memory. So I invented the unlikely phrase “vegetable in the water”, but a few interminable seconds passed before Bridget understood and lifted the centerboard. Seaweed! Now I will never forget!
– 4) What is the thing that more angers you in a race/regatta?
It makes me nervous to rush and do things too quickly before a race when I don’t have time to check and set up the boat.
– 5) Which is the race/regatta that you remember with more pleasure?
The next one …
There are so many … The World Championship in Japan, never seen a regatta so well organized on the ground, and every evening a great party or a show. The Europeans in Pori for the jokes that we did, with our head-comedian Giovanni Stella. The Europeans in Lorient, because the conditions for sailing were not easy, but in spite of this you fall in love with Britain and the sea, a place for real sailors. The various Piada Regattas for the pleasure of sailing with many friends from all over the world. The regattas in the United States (San Francisco, Miami, Clearwater, San Diego) for the competitive but respectful atmosphere that you breathe.
– 6) And the race/regatta you would like to forget?
Actually it is not a race that I want forget, but a race that I could not sail with my intended crew. The Europeans, last year in Cervia, was the goal for me and for Marinella Gorgatto, my crew. It would be our wind conditions and our sailing venue. The whole season was planned to lead up to that regatta. Unfortunately Marinella broke three vertebrae just a few weeks before the event. We were both very disappointed. Michelle Morphew (who replaced Marinella) did a great job at the Europeans, but I was very sorry for Marinella. We wanted to sail a good European Championship.
– 7) Your “dream in the peak”? (Your sailing dream?)
Have more time for sailing Snipe around the world, continue to work for SCIRA and for SnipeToday. Also to involve guys like Nicola Gerin, Giovanni Coccoluto, Taylor Scheuermann and other young people in the organization and promotion of the class among their peers. In my opinion they must be both sailors and promoters.
– 8) Sailing goals for 2013, and beyond?
Go to Florida and Brazil. Sail well and be happy with how I sailed.
– 9) The most important people for you in sailing and in the Snipe?
In the recent years Marinella Gorgatto and Nicola Gerin were my main crews. But all my crews are important. There are so many and I learned from each of them. Also, Augie Diaz because he is my American brother. Carol Cronin for what we are doing together for SnipeToday. Then Enrico Michel and Giorgio Brezich because they introduced me to the Snipe Class. Jacopo Ferrari Bravo, a great tactician and very close friend of mine. Alberto Perdisa and Giovanni Stella, because they are two of the most selfless people I have known. Alessandro Rodati with whom I worked very well when he was Secretary of SCIRA Italy.
– 10) Why the Snipe?
Because you can go to race in many countries around the world and find friends who welcome you with open arms.
– 11) Your perfect sailing venue and your perfect sailing conditions?
Biscayne Bay and Snipe Bay (i.e. Talamone). They are both paradises for sailing with clubs and wonderful people. For different reasons also the foggy and windy San Francisco and Trieste (Muggia race area with sea breeze or moderate bora) have their charm.
My favorites sailing conditions are (when I sail with a total weight of 120 kg) within the narrow limits of wind with which I still manage to keep the boat flat upwind and surf downwind (and no other). In a word Cervia with the thermal breeze. But if I sail with a crew heavier I like the reaches when it blows hard.
– 12) Besides sailing which other sport do you practice?
Cycling. From this sport I learned that the challenge is essentially against yourself. Defeat fatigue and squeeze all energy.
– 13) Are you superstitious?
A little. First put on the left shoe or boot and then the right one. Don’t put the top cover of the boat on the ground. If someone says: “Buona fortuna!” in Italian it means bad luck, at least for a sailor (while if someone says to me “Good luck”, in English, it is OK). Never bring a banana onboard. Never wear the regatta’s T-shirt until the regatta is over …
– 14) Your perfect holiday?
Lately my holidays are always with a Snipe. I’d like to holiday in the mountains by bike with a lot of hills to climb, in the Dolomites in summer. Or a cruise on a sailing boat, Dalmatia or the Caribbean.