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Melges 24 stories - TAKI 4 atop the wave

by Piret Salmistu 14 Nov 2017 14:33 GMT
Marco Zammarchi - owner of TAKI 4 © IM24CA / Zerogradinord

Melges 24 Corinthian World Champion two years in a row, the Corinthian winner of the 2017 Melges 24 European Sailing Series, missing only two Corinthian podiums of the series' events - this is how Italian team TAKI 4 has been printing their footsteps in the history of Melges 24 class.

Besides the owner of the TAKI 4 ITA778 team, Marco Zammarchi, the following team members have been a part of their success story: Niccolò Bertola as a helmsman, Giacomo Fossati as a tactician, Giovanni Bannetta as main trimmer and Matteo de Chiara as a bowman. Since 2016 autumn TAKI 4 team has been supported by the coach Niccolò Bianchi, also former Melges 24 sailor.

In the 20-year long history of the Melges 24 World Championships only two skippers have managed to win the title two years in a row: Vince Brun (USA) in 1998/1999 and Lorenzo Bressani (ITA) in 2010/2011. Now also in Corinthian division the title won by the same skipper two years in a row − Niccolò Bertola replicated his success of 2016 also at the 2017 Melges 24 Worlds in Helsinki, Finland.

Piret Salmistu, Administrator of the International Melges 24 Class Association (IM24CA) interviewed Marco Zammarchi, the owner of TAKI 4 after their successful 2017 season. A second part was interviewed by IM24CA Event Press Officer Mauro Melandri and can be watched as video edited by Zerogradinord.

IM24CA: When was your first experience with Melges 24? Share about your inspiration.
Marco: My very first experience with Melges 24 was in 2008 when Stefano, a very close friend who unfortunately does not have enough time to sail with us anymore, and I bought ITA 528, that we christened TAKI 3. Until then we had sailed in 470, soon to realize that we were too advanced to continue in that class, so we looked for a class that could guarantee us highly skilled competitors, performance and adrenaline - all in one.

IM24CA: When was TAKI 4 created? Have you been sailing with the same crew since the beginning?
Marco: After a couple of training seasons on Melges 24, we decided to try competing at a different level. That was the rational reason behind the purchase of ITA 778 TAKI 4. At that time Matteo and Giacomo were already part of the team. Niccolò joined us for the 2013 Europeans in Medemblik, while Giovanni started his experience with us in 2016, after Alessandro Saettone left the team to be fully involved in professional sailing.

IM24CA: What's the background of your crew - on what boats have you sailed before Melges 24?
Marco: With exception of Giovanni (Snipe and ORC), all of us had experience in 470 class. To be clear, not everyone at the same level (me, for sure not).

IM24CA: What's the meaning of TAKI 4 and from where does this name come from? From the image you have on the hull of your boat you can think of heartbeats?
Marco: It's hard to describe. To be exact, it's simply the nickname we gave to our 470 sailing coach.

IM24CA: The highlights of TAKI 4 have been: Corinthian World Champions 2016 and 2017 (overall 5th in 2017); Europeans 2016 Overall 7th and Corinthian 4th; the events of the European Sailing Series: June 2016 Attersee 1st overall and Corinthian; October 2016 Luino 5th overall and 1st Corinthian; May 2017 Riva 5th overall and 1st Corinthian; June 2017 Marstrand 1st overall and Corinthian. Which achievement is the most valuable for you and why?
Marco: In my opinion the title from the Helsinki Worlds is the most valuable for us. Also keeping in mind we were 5th in the overall ranking. On the other hand, we are also very proud to have won the Marstrand event.

IM24CA: How would you compare two Corinthian titles of the Worlds? What was harder for you and why?
Marco: It's hard to say. Miami title was much unexpected, therefore everybody can understand our joy. However, the title in Helsinki was fantastic because we were afraid to fail and felt pressured to perform - it is always extreme in a competitive class like Melges 24. It is an unforgettable feeling and honour to listen the national anthem play for you!

IM24CA: How would you compare the venues and sailing conditions of 2016 and 2017 Worlds - what were your key factors for winning the title?
Marco: Both venues were marvellous! Miami was more exotic, considering sailing in the sun in December. Helsinki was exactly the opposite, offering us early spring conditions in August. We, Italians, like more sunny conditions. In all honesty we enjoyed both, Miami and Helsinki because of the excellent and challenging sailing conditions.

IM24CA: What do you like about the Melges 24 class and boat?
Marco: In my opinion Melges 24 offers an opportunity to sail with a very fast monohull boat in a very high competitive fleet. Just have a bad start of the race and see if what I'm saying is true or not.

IM24CA: What have been your greatest and most enjoyable moments sailing in Melges 24 class?
Marco: I have already mentioned the two victories at the World Championships, but believe me, every event leaves us with great memories and amazing breakthroughs because we are still in the learning phase.

IM24CA: What are your future plans on Melges 24?
Marco: Our future plans are to participate at the Italian Nationals next year and at the European Sailing Series events, trying to find new inspirations at the European Championship in Riva. In Riva we are already looking for an apartment for the entire month of July to practice as much as we can. Unfortunately we will not defend the title in British Columbia, reasons behind are the labour activities and budget.

About 2019, we will see... maybe we will come out with new TAKI 5!

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