Chasing ghosts

Photo: Subzero Images/WMRT
Francesco Bruni was nearly helmsman in the 34th America's Cup for Azzurra, then Mascalzone...
We have a lot to talk to Francesco Bruni about, whether it is the choice of Olympic equipment for Rio and his unique perspective having campaigned a Laser in 1996, then the 49er in Sydney with his brother, or the soon-to-be-scrapped Star, which he raced in Athens, or his near roles as helmsman initially for the Yacht Club Costa Smerelda’s revitalised Azzurra challenge and then Vincenzo Onorato’s challenge for the 34th America’s Cup, of course neither of which have come to pass, although Bruni continues to keep a foot in both camps. One of Italy’s most popular sailors, Francesco Bruni is part of a Sicilian sailing dynasty. Mum and dad and uncle all sail, his father being a long term Finn sailor, while Francesco and to a greater extent his two brothers, Gabriele and Marco, run the North loft in Palermo and are long term members of the active dinghy scene on the island. Aged 38, Francesco continues to live in Palermo with his wife and two children. Francesco had a conventional path up through the dinghy world, from Optimists to 420s and then sailing with his brother Gabriele in the 470, taking part in the Italian trials for the 1992 Games. He subsequently switched to the Laser, and in 1994, what he describes as “his magic year”, won both the Laser Worlds and Europeans. His results were never quite as good in his subsequent Olympic campaigns, although he and his brother were runner-up at the 49er Europeans on two occasions. “I really like new challenges and I like to know a little bit about being a bowman, helmsman - the complete variety in sailing,” explains Bruni of his apparent lack of loyalty to any one class. “I didn’t like the idea of being stuck in a class and trying to