The man with the golden start gun, Part two

The Daily Sail continues the discussion with Peter Reggio

Friday December 5th 2003, Author: Andy Nicholson, Location: United Kingdom
Peter Reggio’s career as a professional race officer has been years in the making, only really turning full time in 1996. At this stage he was now running all the NOOD regattas in the States and his reputation was growing further afield.

Being out on the water, as a competitor and as a race officer, combined with his broad contacts through his sailmaking days, Reggio was perfectly poised to make his next big step.

He first got involved with the America’s Cup, and more specifically the Louis Vuitton Cup in 1999. Reggio takes up the story: “The New York Yacht Club was the challenger of record, I knew the guy in charge and I knew the chairman - Dave Elwell. Basically, being honest with you, I put in my resume as a joke.”

Nonetheless he was taken on as deputy to Vince Cook. The pair looked after one of the two racing ‘circles’ where the challengers did their sparing. The combination obviously worked well as when the competition progressed to the later stages it was Cook and Reggio who stayed through to the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Harold Bennett (who Reggio has huge respect for), from the New Zealand Yacht Squadron, was PRO for the actual America’s Cup match between Team New Zealand and Prada.

Reggio then got the nod for the position of PRO for the 2002/2003 Louis Vuitton Cup.

In among the action every day for months TheDailySail asked Reggio what his abiding memory of the event was. “All I remember is getting sick of people asking me what the weather was going to do. It’s like - ‘I can control that? No!’”

Again his relaxed approach to things he has no control over comes through, as he continues; “because the scheduled got so buggered from the weather problems, people would say - ‘Are you frustrated?’ No, I can’t do anything about it why get frustrated?”

Reggio makes the point that the wind limits that the yachts were allowed to race in were actually higher than in the 1999/2000 event, but it was the way these conditions were averaged over a five minute cycle. “This meant that you were actually sailing in lighter conditions” concludes Reggio.

When it comes to postponing a Cup race, there are huge numbers of people who get frustrated, from TV crews through to the family out spectating on their cruiser. Reggio was simply implementing the rules, with a little help: “That was easy, because we had computers on the committee boat that would set off alarms if we were outside the wind parameters. It wasn’t like I had to make a decision. A bell would go off and I would go, ‘That’s it.’”

When it came to the Cup match itself, Reggio was at home. “I was back here in the States watching the Cup and it was like pulling teeth, and I knew what was going on!” Reggio continues, “Imagine what the casual observer thinks!”

He is philosophical about the conditions last time around. “It wasn’t Auckland’s fault. It was written for boats to sail in February in Auckland, and you can’t do that in September, October, November in Auckland. I think they will have a place [Valencia, as it turned out] where there is a consistent breeze, so that if the television guys have scheduled the race to be on, at least it will be on.”

For Reggio this whole spectator aspect of the Cup is central to the event: “I think that the AC is not just the AC, it’s an event - the most visible of sailing events, the one most people have heard of, even if they don’t know anything about sailing. In that respect it’s a showcase and I think their [AC Management] promise and their intent is that if there’s going to be exposure, there will actually be exposure. From that respect it’s imperative that it’s approached the way Alinghi and the ACM are doing it. It’s a show, a huge show.”

He is clearly excited about the prospects for having the America’s Cup in Europe. “I think having it in Europe is going to be monstrous, I really do. The Europeans really care about sailing. From that standpoint it’s going to be spectacular for the event itself. It’s going to be much more spectator friendly. Number one, the breeze is going to be there, and number two the Alinghi people and the ACM people are committed to making it a visible and accessible event.”

Reggio is also hugely enthusiastic about the ‘pre-regattas’, not just because that’s more race management up for grabs. Of the San Francisco Moet Cup he says “one of the umpires told me that he went to a media event that happened to be a sail boat race.”

Of the America's Cup Class rule and the boats it creates, Reggio thinks that they are not too spectacular downwind but are just fantastic to watch upwind.

Moving onto the topic of 'throw-outs' (or discards for us Euros), Reggio is more vanilla with his views. The move by ISAF to remove any discards from the Olympic games seems a reasonable topic to ask him about, seeing as he has probably been to more events than anyone else.

“I am ambivalent,” states Reggio, “I understand that the argument behind no throw outs 100% and I understand the argument for throw outs. Once again it’s one of those things that doesn’t affect how I would run races. I want what’s best for the competitors and some like it one way, some like it the other.”

Like most people his concern rests with just how close to the Games the decision has been made. Many sailors have suggested that preparing for Olympic selection and ultimately for the Games, the number of races that actually count to your points score is pretty vital to your whole mindset when you approach your campaign.

“Personally I think people should be allowed one mistake,” says Reggio, “but the level that they are using it at the Olympics or say in the Farr 40s maybe people shouldn’t allow that chance. It’s a test. I don’t think that every regatta is going to go this way, as I think John Public likes it. It keeps their hopes alive.”

Reggio will now be winding down a little, taking his long awaited break in January, before heading out onto the water next year. At this stage he has a few big events pencilled in, but he’s a little unsure of exactly what his full programme for next year will be…

Latest Comments

Add a comment - Members log in


Latest news!

Back to top
    Back to top