Challenger at a glance

May 08, 1992|By Peter Baker

Il Moro di Venezia

This Italian syndicate has a budget in excess of $60 million -- some say it is closer to $100 million -- thanks to the personal fortune of billionaire industrialist Raul Gardini.

Il Moro also has the brains of skipper Paul Cayard, a San Franciscan who sailed for an American group in the 1987 America's Cup and later signed a $1 million deal to sail for the Italians.

Cayard, a protege of the late Tom Blackaller, is a tough campaigner both on the water and in the protest room. The feeling among many closely associated with the challenger finals is that Cayard stole the regatta from New Zealand after being down, four races to one.

Cayard was instrumental in a series of protests against New Zealand's use of a bowsprit from which it set reaching and downwind sails, and as a result of protests the Kiwis changed how they set their sails, then which sails they set and finally switched the people who sailed the boat. The collapse was complete.

Il Moro's crew has been sailing together for more than three years, during which time the syndicate has built and tested five boats.

If there was a shortcoming on the Italian team, it may have been its downwind and reaching sails. But some experimentation with imitations of very good French sails seems to have eliminated that weakness.

The design team, sails and maintenance are top flight. The boat is unquestionably a force to be reckoned with.

Key players, important stats:

Skipper: Paul Cayard

Tactician: Tomasso Chieffi

Design team: German Frers, Robert Hopkins, Fernando Sena.

Builder: Tencara

Sailmaker: North

Number of boats: Five (Il Moro I, II, III, IV, V)

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