At the end of August, The Afterguard wrote about Fuxia Challenge in an article entitled 'The Future's Bright, The Future's Fuxia ?!?', and as is often our way, at that time we created more questions than answers...
Having felt we might have been a little too light-hearted in our approach, we ended our piece by reflecting that we had made previous efforts to gain more information from Fuxia Challenge, and asking that if Paolo Rivelli should read our article, would he care to contact us. Paolo has been the sole individual we have noted to be associated with much recent Italian media coverage.
By the wonders of the internet, Paolo has been in touch, and provided us with an English response to a number of our questions. We're grateful to Paolo for struggling with The Afterguard's native tongue - our over reliance on Google translation can render Paolo's melodious language almost incomprehensible!
We began by asking Paolo to explain the background to the team and who was principally concerned with it's formulation:
"The idea of Fuxia Challenge was given birth by Sport Xtension, a firm specialized in the development of creative concepts for the sports industry and a company of which I am CEO."
Sport Xtension Ltd. is a company founded in the UK in July of 2007 [source]
"An international team of marketing, media, finance and sailing experts have worked together to realize this; in the specific this project is born by an intuition of one of the most important & skilful sports & marketing practitioners in Italy, Marcel Vulpis, who is also the President of Fuxia Challenge."
Marcel also appears to have involvement in the Italian website sporteconomy.it [source]
"Our aim is to create an innovative approach to the America’s Cup, that basically will promote greater value for its strategic partners through a specific target audience. Fuxia Challenge will assemble an entirely female team from among the world’s top ranking sailors for the first time ever in America’s Cup history; it will be the Challenge of Marketing to Women, heavily orientated to fashion and glamour."
The Afterguard had noted mention of Italian & internationally famed actress Ornella Muti in a recent Italian press article, and we asked Paolo to explain her involvement with Fuxia challenge.
Miss Ornella Muti
"Miss Ornella Muti accepted to be the Patroness of the Fuxia Challenge as she is a strong supporter of efforts to improve the status of all women around the world. Fuxia Challenge will be linked to an international charitable organization that is also engaged in this aim."
We asked Paolo to comment on some of the female sailors being associated with Fuxia Challenge in the Italian press, and he confirmed that those identified were the subject of mere speculation, as are the yacht clubs thus far connected to Fuxia in the media.
"At the moment I cannot confirm any of the statements regarding the team's members currently signed. The team will be announced after the first half of October following confirmation of Fuxia Challenge's Yacht club."
"Our deadline to officially announce our participation in the 33rd America's Cup is the 31st of December... and will depend on securing sponsorship to meet our budget of €55/60 Million."
We were relieved to have confirmation from Paolo that the team intends to have a female skipper, despite Italian media suggestions of different needs, which turned out to be "more a taunt of a journalist than a serious idea". We believe a number of Italian sailing forums will be suitably relieved also!
On the subject of the apparel our previous article focused on, Paolo explains,
"On the 19th of September 2007 we launched a co-marketing operation together with an Italian Volleyball club, Prisma Taranto; the rules of the game allow the sweeper to wear a different shirt from the rest of the team and the event was a press presentation of the Fuxia Challenge shirt that the Prisma Taranto sweeper is going to wear during official matches in the Italian Volleyball premier league. The shirt promotes Fuxia Challenge but is not representative of the official uniform of the Fuxia Challenge Team."
There is a stronger connection between Fuxia Challenge and Prisma Taranto than first appears, more of which will become evident in the future; presently Fuxia Challenge will benefit from the international exposure through outlets such as the Sky Sports network that the exciting Italian Volleyball league generates.
This will come as welcome news to one friend of The Afterguard's who, on publication of our original article, pondered on the fact that the garment illustrated appeared tailored for the male form. Mystery solved, Trevor!
Finally, The Afterguard asked Paolo to reflect on the reluctance by much of the media (ourselves included) to accept the serious intentions of those behind Fuxia Challenge.
"I believe that most of the reluctance to accept the concept of Fuxia Challenge is due to its innovative approach that breaks the traditional attitude of the world of this America's Cup, indeed this team intends to revolutionize the way the Cup has been perceived to date."
"More than someone’s dream or a design project, Fuxia Challenge is much more real than you could think; it is an initiative with an innovative approach, a media platform that will allow the interested parties to have direct contact with a specific target audience, the female consumers, that is much wider than just the enthusiasts of this sport, to maximize the return on investment. Isn’t that what the AC Management and the corporate sponsors that invest in this event are looking for?"
The Afterguard's heartfelt thanks go to Paolo Rivelli, Institutional Relations Director of Fuxia Challenge, for his time and answers. We hope Paolo and the team will keep us up to speed as to the progress of Fuxia Challenge, a very different America's Cup team.