Carlo ALBERINI and his all-Italian crew sail into the Bell Mumm 30 World Championship today ballasted by the weight of tradition. They alone carry the hopes of their homeland to stretch the string of four consecutive class titles won by Italians.
Fifteen Americans, three Canadians and one Australian are lined up to see that it doesn't happen again. None of the seven former champions is competing.
The schedule calls for 11 races through Friday, with no discards. The event is hosted and organized by the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, located on an island off downtown Toronto in an elegant setting of flower beds, tennis courts, a bowling green and a stone facing dedicated by the Prince of Wales in 1919. The club dates to 1852, only one year younger than the America's Cup.
Alek KRSTAJIC, director of marketing for the title sponsor, said, "Canada has had a rich heritage in sailing, and Bell is proud to be associated with hosting a world championship."
Besides Alberini, the other overseas entry is Richard PERINI, sailing Foreign Affair from Sydney. Perini won class in similarly difficult competition at Key West in 2002 and 2003 and has sailed in four previous Mumm 30 Worlds, but he was worried about sailing in uncharted waters here.
"I've never been to Canada,"
he said after two low-key practice races in light winds Monday. "All the locals we've spoken to say conditions could be anything at all, so we're ready for nothing. We're hoping for wind. We seem go have a bit of an edge when the wind comes up."
Alberini echoes that sentiment. The week's forecast calls for 10 knots tops.
"A lot of the teams are very, very strong,"
said Alberini. "The racing will not be easy because of little breeze. But I'm here to play the game with what I have in my hand."
Two crew members, Sandro and Paolo MONTEFUSCO, are veterans of three Olympic Games in the 470 dinghy class; they won silver medals in 1988. "My crew is from all parts of Italy,"
Alberini said, "from the north to the south."
Alberini's home is in Pesaro, a town on the Adriatic coast near where the composer Rossini and the painter Raffalo were born---but their boat, Calvi, is named for to company of a sponsor.