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Getting the Know the Owner at the Helm of the Brontolo Melges 20 Program

📸 Melges Europe / Barracuda Comms.

Filippo Pacinottii’s name has graced the pages and posts of North Sails for several years. Most recently he won the 2021 Melges 20 Europeans, just ahead of December’s class worlds in Miami. And while we are very familiar with his excellent results, we wanted to know more about the person at the helm of the Brontolo program.

Let’s start with one disclaimer. Like many North Sails clients, Pacinotti, who grew up sailing on the east coast of Italy, is not a full-time sailor. The Milan-based businessman has only about 25 days per year to dedicate to his favorite sport, making his recent success that much more impressive. 

“Sailing is my passion,” Pacinotti explains. “I participate in other sports on an amateur level; I ski, I play tennis, but there are two reasons I choose sailing. First, I can compete at a high level and be successful. Second; while I’m in love with tennis, I am a much better sailor.”

With limited time, a big part of Pacinotti’s success is knowing how to optimize his training time and where to place his focus. How many days to train before an event? Is there time in the off-season—and do we really want to train throughout the winter? Striking the right balance can be a challenge, but over the years he has found the right boat, built a solid team, and selected North one design sails to stack the odds in his favor.

The Brontolo journey with the Melges 20 began in 2018, at the recommendation of team tactician Federico Michetti, who was the President of Melges Europe. After a few years of campaigning a Melges 32, Pacinotti was looking for a change, and the Melges 20 ticked all the requirements; super-fast, downwind, super fun, a bit technical, very competitive but manageable. A step down in boat and crew size stepped up their results. 

“I remember winning our first regatta,” Pacinotti says; “it was close to Naples in Southern Italy. That was the spark where we believed we made the right call. I have to say over the last three years, we’ve been really, really successful.”

The team, who include Michetti and Manu Weiler has a special mojo, he adds. “I know that it’s very simple to say, but we have a lot of fun. Of course, it’s easier to have fun when you are on the top of the fleet, but that’s not mandatory.”

Pacinotti trusts the standard North Melges 20 sails to be fast, which allows him to focus his training time on boat handling and boat speed. “We try to avoid being very creative with custom programs, things like that. That’s why we love to use North Sails; we can get to the right speed without having to overthink the shape of our sails. As a result, I feel very confident using North.”

The 2021 Melges 20 Worlds will be Pacinotti’s first time sailing on Biscayne Bay, so he’ll be relying on his crew’s experience. “Right now, we’re focused on the practical things, the logistics of sending over the boat, having the permission to travel to the U.S,” Pacinotti explains. “At the same time, we’re thinking about our competition.” 

He’s very familiar with their European competitors, but the American teams are a bit of an unknown.

“I have very clear visibility on the Russian team and at least another Italian team that we’ll be racing against,” he says. “I’m sure they’re going to be very fierce opponents. I know that in the U.S., the fleet has practiced in Miami, but I’m looking forward to getting on the water and seeing how we stack up.

“We’re quite optimistic, of course. We know we have a good team and can dial in our tuning to get the boat up to speed.”

The 2021 Melges 20 Worlds are scheduled for 8-12 December. Follow the Brontolo team on Instagram at @brontolo_airlines to learn more.

📸 Melges Europe / Barracuda Comms.
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