Italian media put Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad in the spotlight during an 80-minute press conference at the Genoa Boat Show, when they asked him to rate the chances of a boat from their country entering the next race.
The sailing-mad country is a world leader in leisure boat manufacture and sales and Bergamo-based Persico Marine has recently been announced as the company who will make any new Volvo Ocean 65 one-design boats needed for the 13th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race in 2017-18.
“So what are the chances of us finally having an Italian boat in the next race?” Frostad was asked by the eager Italian press corps in Thursday evening’s conference.
Frostad, who leaves his position at the end of the year, but is meanwhile helping to spearhead the drive for new teams, responded: “It’s very early, but there are good signs and a lot of interest. I’d say the chances are about 50-50.”
But he was quick to add: “I can tell you one thing, though: the effort to get an Italian team in the race is a hundred percent. We would love to see an Italian boat in the Volvo Ocean Race.”
Alberto Bolzan, the Italian sailor who sailed on board Team Alvimedica in the last edition, was also on the five-strong Volvo Ocean Race panel answering the questions from the knowledgeable Italian press corps, which was bolstered by several members of the international sailing media attending the Genoa Boat Show.
“I have no doubt that we have the skilled sailors who could do well in the Race, but it is wrong to name names at this point,” said Bolzan.
Chris Nicholson, skipper of Team Vestas Wind, Team SCA navigator Libby Greenhalgh, and Marcello Persico, who heads Persico Marine, were also on the panel.
The Genoa Boat Show is one of the biggest and most impressive nautical exhibitions in the world and Frostad jumped at the opportunity to stage a series of pro-am races this week in the Italian city’s harbour, between Team SCA and Team Vestas Wind.
The popular Dome theatre and Volvo Ocean 65 cross-section display, two of the biggest hits at race villages around the world, were also taken to Genoa for the show which started on Wednesday (September 30) and concludes on Monday (October 5).
Hundreds of interested show attendees flocked to see the attractions.
The press conference was also attended by Anton Albertoni, President of I Saloni Nautici, which stages the Genoa Boat Show.
He jokingly asked Frostad if there was any chance of his team of organisers staying in Genoa permanently.
“None, I’m afraid,” smiled Frostad. “I think the city of Alicante (hosts of the Race HQ) would be very angry if we did that.”