Flavio Favini - The Blu Moon Legend Speaks

The IMCA's Justin Chisholm caught up with sailing legend Flavio Favini to find out more about this outstanding sailor and his love affair with the Melges 24.

IM24CA: Tell us about your sailing background?

FF: I was born in the Italian town of Luino at the edge of Lake Maggiore and like many people, my introduction to sailing came from my father. He was a Snipe and Star boat crew. Again like many others, my first boat was an Optimist. I began racing Optimists in 1972 at the local sailing club with other boys of my age. At the time there were only about ten of us but at some stage our parents started organised for kids from other sailing clubs to come and race with us on the same lake. For us it was all about making friends enjoying sailing and the racing was just for the fun of it. From there I sailed Lasers as a teenager, then (and I know you won’t believe this!) moved on the Finn for three years. After that I campaigned a Soling for many years, as well as sailing a bit of everything.

IM24CA:  What do you regard as the highlights of your racing career so far and what has been your biggest disappointment? 

FF: Wow, that is a tough question.  Let’s just say the highlights I hope are still to come. For sure my biggest disappointment is not having competed at the Olympics. The story is three second places at the Soling selection trials then a win at the trials for the Barcelona Games in 1992. Unfortunately for me, that time the Italian Olympic Committee decided not to send the Soling class representative.

IM24CA: Tell us how your love affair with the Melges 24 came about?

FF: My first time on the Melges was in mid summer in 2000 at the famous Regatta del Canalone in Cannobio on Lake Maggiore, when the first Blu Moon Melges 24 was delivered. We had heard some good stories about the boat and the class from our friend and Melges 24 legend Giorgio Zuccoli and he had convinced Franco Rossini to join the class. Franco, at that time was racing a UFO one design, but wanted to switch from good local racing to an international class. We immediately had fun sailing the boat and in our first regattas we got beaten so badly that we quickly realised how good the level of the competition was.

IM24CA: Tell us the background to the Blu Moon Sailing Team?

FF:  The Blu Moon Sailing Team comes from the boats that Franco was sailing before the Melges 24. He used to sail in the Surprise Class with some very good Swiss sailors and the Italian sailor Tiziano Nava. When Franco graduated to the UFO one design Tiziano invited Alberto Prestinoni, the Doctor, Fede Valenti and I to join the team. When we moved to the Melges 24, the team was almost complete but we were not looking very good, so we invited former J24 World Champion, Serena Cima to join our crew. 

The Blu Moon team is a bunch of friends who have known each other and sailed together for so many years, on all kind of boats. Over the years we have had the privilege of recruiting many great people to the team; including top-level sailors like Ciccio Celon, Sebastien Col and Chris Rast. Like most teams in any sport, our crew has changed since the beginning, but those who are no longer sailing in the boat are still with us and are always supporting the team. One thing that has never changed is the enthusiasm of Franco for both the sport and for his team and this is what keeps us all together year after year. For 2010 the team will include Franco Rossini (we still hope co convince him to sail), Chicca Salva, Fede Valenti, Tiziano Nava, Matteo Ivaldi, Stefano Rizzi and myself.

IM24CA: How many days per year do you spend on the water? What other classes will you race? 

FF: I never counted precisely, but the average is around two hundred days sailing per year. In 2010 I will sail at the Louis Vuitton Series as part of the Mascalzone Latino America’s Cup team, then Melges 32 with the new B-Lin team and on the one hundred foot former Alfa Romeo, now called Esimet.

IM24CA:  If you could only sail one boat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

FF: I love sailing small boats and so probably the Melges 24 would be the one.

IM24CA: What do you think are the three most important helmsman’s secrets to making a Melges 24 go fast?

FF: Not an easy question to answer but I’ll try:

1. Upwind always sail with a very light feel to the helm, especially in breezy conditions.

2. Downwind in planning conditions if you are sailing the boat flat, then you are probably going too low.

3. Very obvious I know, but time spent on the boat equals more speed!

IM24CA: What three pieces of advice would you give to young sailors who would like to emulate your career in sailing?

FF: My best advice is to always have fun whilst you are sailing. Remember to love what you are doing and don’t get stressed about the results. I believe that if you have fun, sail a lot and train well, then good results will come.

Try to sail dinghies, like the Olympic classes and other small competitive boats for as long as possible. That’s where you can learn more, get the sensibility and establish a true feeling for sailing. Trust me, there is always time to sail bigger boats and there is no rush to make the transition, as good dinghy sailors are always wanted for sailing on the big boats.