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Images © Mauro Melandri | Zerogradinord


Interview with Frederico Michetti, Trimmer on Pinta – Winner of the 2016 World Championship

Freddy, let’s begin at the end! You are now the only sailor in history to have won all the Melges sportboat design titles having won the M24, M32 and now the M20 Worlds. How does it feel ?

FREDDY: For more than 20 years I’ve considered Melges boats to be the best monohull sportboat to race. Capturing the Melges 20 Worlds title with our incredible team makes me really happy and proud. Looking back, I have had incredibly happy moments with all the teams that I raced with. They are always in my heart and this victory is dedicated to them too!

The first world title I won was with the Melges 24 “Sabino Express” in La Rochelle back in 2000. Certainly that first title is one I will never forget as I was able to compete side by side with an unforgettable friend who is no longer with us. Our win with the PINTA team is a victory that certainly punctuates my sailing career in the fantastic Melges world. I am very thankful to Michael Illbruck and to the team for making it happen!

What can you tell us about the “journey” with the PINTA Team? It is an incredible feat for you guys to manage to win the Worlds right after one racing year… fantastic!

FREDDY: I have been following Michael’s sailing adventures since I was a kid. That’s why PINTA represents more than a simple sailing team to me. It represents a real icon and legend in our world which started writing its own history back in 1969 with Michael’s father, Willy.

In this first season Melges 20 PINTA was aiming only to be adequately competitive with the goal of being prepared for a run at the 2017 Melges 20 Worlds being held in Newport so we knew already that we had to commit to achieve our goal.

The “journey” is a little strategy that we created to focus on what we were doing without being overloaded with stress or, even worse, with high expectations which can do more harm than good. Therefore the “journey” has helped us as we allowed ourselves to concentrate on learning and on sailing empathetically. We were going back onshore after each race or practice satisfied that we had given our best. So, the short story for our preparation was:

“Let’s focus on the Journey and not the goal…”

At the end we respected the original plan and we worked really hard from the first day we began sailing together. We also teamed up as much as possible onshore increasing our positive and serene attitude. To this extent Micheal is a indeed a very special sailor!

These things have helped the team grow together and improve our racing performance without any form of pressure or anxiety. Defeats are painful though!

Willy (Michael’s father, one of the most winning owners in the history of sailing) used to say: “You must experience a defeat before you learn how to win!.” We found this to be very true and helpful in our less successful moments.

Winning the world title wasn’t in our dreams even as we realized that our performance was improving and we were becoming very competitive race by race. John Kostecki’s expertise of Team PINTA – he has been sailing for the team for the past 22 years! – has indeed been a key factor and essential to winning the championship!

You are the “Speed Boss” on board which means you trim the sails, tune the mast, take care of managing the boat handling, etc. Can you give us tips to keep in mind to go fast upwind and downwind ?

FREDDY: The Melges 20 is an intriguing, fun-to-sail boat. The three-person team sails with their legs onboard creating totally new dynamics: each team member contributes to tactics, trim and tuning.

On PINTA start with a setting which can easily be adapted or changed in case the conditions change. We choose a tune that uses the tracks in their full range. Heeling angle is the key to success – being able to keep a stable and constant angle seems to ensure consistent, successful performances.

I reckon that the heeling angle is the key to success in that being able to keep a stable and constant angle seems to ensure consistent, successful performances.

In the Melges 20 class there is no crew-weight limit. Some teams sail with three while others opt for four crew. What are your thoughts about crew weight and numbers on the Melges 20?

FREDDY: The class does not foresee a weight limit which takes away the stress of compulsory weigh-in and related extreme diets. The fleets swings between 240 – 275 kg (530-605 lbs). I think that 260kg (573 lbs) is the optimum weight. On PINTA our average weight was +270kg (595 lbs) which doesn’t really help in light wind conditions!

What sails & codes you would recommend ? Could you define wind-range & sea-state to choose if flying a Runner or a Reacher ?

FREDDY: In the last two seasons North Sails has worked really hard to develop an easy to use, all-round inventory. I’m really proud of what we came up with. The results speak for themselves. On PINTA we sail with standard North sails:

M-16 mainsail
LM Jib (former J-11B)
V4-2R and R2 Runner. The V4 has proven to be a great all-round sail and is a must in the lazy planning condition where the heeling angle is the most important factor. The R2 is a great sail in the range of 7 to 11 knots.

As President of Melges Europe what can you tell us about the future of this Class and upcoming Melges 20 racing ?

FREDDY: The Melges 20 class is experiencing extraordinary momentum, especially considering a perceived downturn in sailing industry worldwide.

The world championship in Scarlino had record attendance with the highest number of competitors ever registered for a Melges 20 World Championship. Not only have the attendance figures been encouraging but also the feedback of the owners after the event has been particularly brilliant. It is exciting for me that more and more clients are supporting us and asking for more races with the typical “Melges style” support both on the water and onshore.

Never before have I personally experienced such an inviting, addicting and comfortable class. Top teams that compete with Corinthians or family driven teams under the eyes of an always competent and trustful jury. This is what makes the class so special and allows us to enjoy a racing schedule of more than 20 events in venues such as Monte Carlo, Miami, Toronto, The Med and Japan.

This is the Melges 20 class heritage! Our commitment at Melges is to offer to our client an attractive and unique sailing experience. Team Melges is working hard to make this happen now and in the future.