The Italian Almanac

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Amerigo Vespucci

Italian News - August 22

Former Italian Navy admiral Ugo Foschini is showing no signs of drawing a close to his glorious seafaring career despite recently starting his 10th decade. The world's oldest competitive skipper takes to the waves at least once a week and already has a packed schedule of races planned for 2007 - when he will be 91 - including Trieste's Barcolana regatta on the Adriatic.

Foschini moves around the deck with the agility of a man half his age and the years have not diminished his seafaring skills in the slightest. This was clear two months ago when he beat off far younger competition to claim victory at the Velalonga regatta in Naples.

The World War II veteran says the reason he continues to set sail week-after-week is to "transmit his passion for the sea and sailing to younger generations". In 2003 the Italian Navy named Foschini a "Yachting Commodore" as a tribute to his work with youngsters hoping to follow in his distinguished footsteps.

Foschini's career is full of outstanding achievements. In 1964 he skippered the legendary Corsaro II tall ship to victory in the Lisbon-Bermuda race, arriving a whole day ahead of his closest rival. Four years later he was in command of the Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian Navy's world famous 26-sail school ship, which he took for a trip up the River Thames in London.

"The British press said that skipper is either crazy or a great sailor," he recalled.