It is with great sadness that ISAF reports the death of Gianfranco Alberini, aged 82.
One of the most influential figures in modern offshore sailing has suddenly left us, stricken by a stroke, returning from a Maxi class meeting in Paris. Commandante Gianfranco Alberini will no longer call in as "Alpha" on VHF radio as he did for so many years, and his passing leaves a large void in the Grand Prix yachting scene, as well as in his family.
Over his long life Alberini had been at the forefront of many big changes in the sport, where he has used them to increase and expand his long-range vision of excellence and innovation in offshore sailing.
When he retired from the Italian Navy, Alberini landed in Porto Cervo, and there developed a world-renowned regatta venue that before him was only known by a handful of passionate Italian sailors. And when the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda decided to carry the flag for the first Italian America's Cup challenge, he managed an effective leadership role amongst a large group of sponsors, sailors and technicians, and created a unique image for the Azzurra challenge in 1983.
In the following America's Cup in Perth, he cleverly managed the role of Challenger of Record, and provided a structure for the Race Management to remain effective despite difficult conditions, earning widespread respect from all involved.
When Alberini left YCCS for a few years in the 1990's, he founded then managed the IMS Class Association, AVAI, and contributed to the creation of the IMS European Championship. During this time he also managed to concentrate into AVAI, in a sort of permanent way, all Maxis of the world, without any major controversy on possible conflicts of interest.
When he stepped down from AVAI after a fabulous 40th Anniversary regatta in 2007, he continued to work for the International Maxi Association, vastly expanding its membership and deftly managing the difficult task of balancing the expectations and interests of Maxi owners and their egos until his last day.
In 1998, at the first ORC Management Committee meeting scheduled in Porto Cervo, he presented a new idea of organizing an IMS World Championship. This event has been a growing success ever since its first edition was held in Porto Cervo in 1999.
The ORC is forever grateful to Alberini for this and many great ideas, and he will always be remembered and admired as being an assiduous, independent-minded and unsurpassed organizer of successful events.