IN THE world of yacht racing Raul Gardini was a big hitter in the big league, writes Stuart Alexander. Best remembered will be his campaign to win the America's Cup in San Diego in 1992 under the Il Moro di Venezia banner. His syndicate always had elegance, its symbol, the Lion of Venice, emblazoned on everthing except the boats themselves.
Gardini's smile was nearly always as threatening as it was friendly, his laugh had a background note of triumphalism. The way he attacked the New Zealand syndicate in the Louis Vuitton Cup final to become the sole challenger with the right to have a tilt at the American defender was ruthless and successful. He had once called Sir Michael Fay, the Kiwi syndicate boss, a 'romposcapoli', a ball-breaker.
He then went down 4 in the best-of- seven Cup match, his technology beaten by better technology but he was always impassive and dignified, the only sign of inner nerves the constant recourse to a cigarette. Soon after he was operating out of Paris, but still backing yachting endeavours, this time an attempt to sail round the world in 80 days and he challenged again for the 1995 America's Cup this time through his own creation, the Europe Yacht Club, and with the skipper to whom he had become almost a father figure, Paul Cayard.