“Fabio Buzzi pulled off another one of his own: he won, or rather overcame, the Miami-New York, the longest and most grueling Offshore race in the world in which no Italian before now had dared to participate… with a dinghy!” – from Motor Boats, 1994
Look for a record or world championship in powerboating and, almost always, you will find the name of Fabio Buzzi of Lecco (1943-2019). In his career as a pilot, he reaped many successes; in his career as a designer, countless.
Fabio Buzzi, the fairing wizard
Because if he wasn’t winning himself, his boats were. Just remember the Venice-Montecarlo in 1990, when out of five of his hulls on the starting line, four closed the race as winners in their respective categories, despite breakages and various breakdowns. The fifth boat, with the name Tecno, won in all but the first leg due to a breakup that cost her the victory in the final standings. Had it not been for that setback, there probably would have been no history: Tecno was just one of many names for Cesa, the world’s most successful boat (17 consecutive podiums, with 3 second places and 14 first places) designed by Buzzi and famous during the “Casiraghi era,” when it ruled the U.S. as the Gancia of Gancias.
Again in 2008 he gave the Lecco man victory in the prestigious Cowes-Torquay-Cowes race, under the name Red FPT, with Fiat Powertrain Technologies, an engine brand to which Buzzi was particularly attached. And what about when, in 1994, Buzzi showed up at the Miami-New York with a dinghy, the Tecno ’40? The Americans at first laughed at seeing a rib in the midst of their holy monsters of speed, such as the various Donzis. Cigarette and Fountain. Then they no longer laughed. By the first leg, the super dinghy had already eaten three hours off its direct opponent, who left five hours earlier.
Fabio Buzzi has always had boats in his blood. A descendant of hull builders and designers, he was born and raised between Lecco and Lake Como, the cradle of Italian powerboating. In 1971 he became a mechanical engineer at the Turin Polytechnic, then founded FB Design in Annone Brianza (LC) the following year. Military-use vehicles or supersonic cruisers, such as the Mas 42 Sport or the newer Sunseeker Hawk ’38, come out of here every day.
At seventy-six years old at 277.51 km/h.
Such is his passion for records that still in 2018, at the age of seventy-six, he whizzed at 277.51 km/h on Lake Como in a three-pointer designed by him and powered by an FPT C16 engine, which became the fastest marine diesel in history. For the record, the previous record, from 1992, was also by Fabio Buzzi: 252 km/h. After sailing all over the world, he still remained forever attached to the historic Pavia-Venice Raid, which he first tried at age 17. It was not just a competition, but a testing ground for many of his experiments.
Despite numerous attempts, some 40 of them, victory did not come until 2002, thanks to another “three-pointer” equipped with a gas turbine powerplant and electronic course detection system, a revolution for the time. In fact, his magic was not only limited to the hulls, but also to all the “gimmicks” for safety on board, such as the seats and details that can save lives when sailing at 80 knots.
A full-throttle life even in the last crossing to improve his record on the Monte Carlo-Venice. Then the terrible accident at the entrance to the Venice Lagoon that left him and two other crew members no chance: Luca Nicolini, friend and pilot of the “magician,” and Erik Hoorn, a Dutch FPT technician and diesel engine expert who contributed to many of Buzzi’s records. Moments earlier they had crossed the finish line and set yet another incredible record: Monte Carlo-Venice in 18 hours, 33 minutes and 30 seconds.