Why GazProm are backing a European supermaxi

Igor Simcic and Flavio Flavini discuss their Esimit Europa 2 campaign
Neville Crichton’s all-conquering supermaxi Alfa Romeo 2 has gone to an interesting new home. Slovenian Igor Simcic has acquired the Reichel-Pugh design and under her new name of Esimit Europa Two is campaigning the 100ft supermaxi in regattas around Europe over the next two years, as a billboard to promote the European Union. This is no idle threat. The campaign’s main sponsor is GazProm, the world’s largest extractor of natural gas and the largest company in Russia, perhaps even one of the biggest companies ever to have backed a race boat. While Simcic is himself a successful businessman – the company he founded in 1978, Esimit, distributes chemicals for the thermo-setting and paint industries, wine and beer producers, etc initially in Slovenia and the former Yugoslavia but today throughout the whole of southern Europe. Esimit was sold to the Wales-based company Warwick in 1991 with Simcic remaining in a managerial role. Personally Simcic has sailed all his life. His uncle was skipper on the maxi Helisara, owned by the legendary Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan and as a child Simcic sailed on board. He bought his own first racing boat in 1995 and from the outset began using it for political purpose. Simcic comes from Nova Gorica on the Slovenia border with Italy but worked over the border in Gorizia. “I passed the borders two or three times a day and I saw how bad the border was stopping development in the countries. So practically I felt that I must do something to help to cancel this.” To do this he founded the Esimit Gorizia & Nova Gorica international project, this also becoming the name of his first 42ft race boat. “The two names of the cities were connected with the European stars in 1995,” he says. “So this was a visionary action.