Group 71 Created with Sketch. Combined Shape Created with Sketch.
Travelling safely
Offers Request Book Menu

Lake Garda - Sport & outdoor

How do you become an America’s Cup champion?

Interview with Jacopo Plazzi Marzotto - Part 1

Jacopo, can you tell us something about yourself? Where were you born, and how did you get into sailing? Did someone in your family introduce you to this world, or did you discover it “by chance”?

I come from a sailing family – my father and my uncle both sailed in America’s Cup. In my uncle’s case, sailing became his job, and nowadays he is still involved in sailing as he participated in several America’s Cup editions. He even won once!

On the other hand, my father changed career after the 1987 America’s Cup. He graduated in medicine and today he is an internationally renowned neurologist. But he kept this very strong passion for sailing over time. The 2000 race was in New Zealand and so we lived it in the winter, with my uncle on board. I was 8 years old, and I woke up every morning to watch the regattas. After Luna Rossa won the Louis Vuitton Cup, that same summer I started taking sailing courses – and I never stopped.


What is your professional background? In which classes have you raced, and what experiences have you had?

Let’s say I followed a “traditional” path. I started with Optimist, I continued with 420 in the youth classes, and then I immediately moved on to 49er with Umberto Molineris, you know him well, and from there we did a 6-year Olympic campaign together, for Rio 2016. After that, I started doing other things too, for example competing in different classes such as m32 and gc32, sailing slightly bigger boats, and I also took up 49er again in 2017 with Andrea Tesei, with whom I achieved excellent results both at the European and world level.

In 2018, we were invited to join the Luna Rossa team, and that’s how our first America’s Cup experience came about. In the meantime, I also managed to get a three-year degree in economics even though my life was all about sailing, sailing, and more sailing.


How did you become part of Luna Rossa? What year did they call you? What was your first thought, your first reaction to the news?

In 2018, Andrea and I learned that Luna Rossa was going to launch the “New Generation” program to recruit a new group of sailors for the America’s Cup. So, at the end of 2017 we first got in touch with Max Sirena and Pietro Sibello, who at the time was not just a former colleague, but also took care of the youth project and was a source of inspiration for those who sailed the 49er.

At the beginning of 2018 we did these trials with over a hundred other guys, and in the end both Andrea, Umberto and myself were selected. The whole group I grew up and sailed with over the last few years!

For me especially it was a bit odd, because I was offered a coaching position by Max, and my first thoughts were conflicting – in the sense that on one hand, I liked the idea very much, on the other obviously I had no experience in that role and therefore I was a little anxious. What made me feel even more uncertain was the fact that it would be hard to do both the Olympic campaign and the cup – in fact, the following year we had to choose, and we continued with America’s Cup.

New Generation program: What is it about? What are its goals? How is it done?

The aim of the program was to bring young people to the team, an idea that came from our management’s experience with Team New Zealand for the previous cup, the Bermuda one. The goal was precisely hiring a young team to find people with different sailing backgrounds, people that grew up in international environments and with experience on more modern boats.

It was done through a series of trials in Cagliari: over the course of several weeks, many young people tried out, specifically they looked for grinders and therefore people with considerable physical ability. In fact, not only sailors entered the trials, but also people who came from rowing and swimming, sports where the athletic component is prevalent.

These guys also brought different skills, especially related to preparation and mentality given the increased level of physical effort. As a result, it was very productive for the team to have this mix of different kinds of knowledge, compared to what is usually found.

On Luna Rossa you found your former teammates with whom you shared all kinds of experiences, Umberto in the 49er and Andrea with Malizia in the GC32 circuit: how much did the experiences you shared with them shaped you? And how well did they prepare you to face your Luna Rossa experience?

I have always been very proud of the fact that we all managed to join along the way. The cup is a long and treacherous journey because it presents various difficulties on a personal level, being a very different project as you work for the success of the entire group, while an Olympic campaign is something more personal, where you have full control.

Facing the difficulties related to this change of perspective with a group I know very well, with whom a glance is enough to understand each other and who also have a way of thinking similar to mine, was really helpful. Having achieved decent results was a great satisfaction. Clearly, we all wanted to win it, so this certainly left some bad taste in our mouths!


How important are human relationships, the team, the chemistry to be able to compete in such important regattas? Everything has to be in sync to run at that speed, right?

Human relationships matter a lot. Especially in a working environment where there are about a hundred people, all with different backgrounds and different nationalities, considering technicians, engineers, designers, sailors. There are all sorts of people – being able to form a group and having a common goal is very important because there are periods in which, like in New Zealand, you work non stop for more than 12 hours a day, with only 3 or 4 days off in 7 months, including Christmas.

If you do not have a strong group that supports each other, it is very difficult to continue. That’s the case not just in the sailing team – in my opinion, there was already a great relationship between people, because there was a nice mix of young sailors and more experienced ones. It’s necessary also at a more general level, for the whole team – everyone has to ‘row’ in the same direction!

Would you like to know more? Read the second part of the interview with Jacopo Plazzi Marzotto, or check out these other articles dedicated to sailing champions:


Back to blog

Why residence? Apartments & offers Travel experience
Call Whatsapp Offers Request Book