Peter Reggio: An American Signal Caller

Published on April 11th, 2016

Principal Race Officer Peter ‘Luigi’ Reggio has traveled the globe to run races. The RC44 Class hires Luigi for their races, and provided this exposé on the American signal caller….

My background? You’re going to find most of what you need in a police report – try America’s most wanted. I’ve raced forever. I was a sailmaker for 12 years and raced with customers in nearly all the major regattas around the world. Eventually it took the fun out of the sport for me.

The race management side of things started at my home clubs in Connecticut. I used to watch the people running races, acting like they were gods and I decided it wasn’t right. So I started working as a race officer under the principle of ‘if I was racing, how would I want it to be done’.

I’m a horrible judge, I live my life by my gut instinct rather than the rules, so I could never have made it on the jury. That said I work closely with juries and umpires and there is no question that it is the people that make the job for me.

Venue to venue, the people are always the thing that makes it better. You can have a week of rubbish wind and an extremely tough regatta but it’s still fun because of the people you work with.

I couldn’t name any highlights but I’ve done a lot of stuff that I think others would regard as special – the Olympics, the America’s Cup, stuff like that, but its my job. It’s not like I worry what level the event is when I agree to do it. All I want to do is go out there and have fun with the sailors, learn something new each day and give them the best racing I can.

A long time ago, and probably one of the smartest things I ever did in the sport, was that I decided I didn’t want to be an event organiser. I wanted to go on the water, run the races and only handle that part of it. I’m probably the most disorganised human God has ever created, so that was a smart move.

To be honest I’m starting to slow down a little bit, I’m 66 years old, the events are still a lot of fun but the travel is getting harder. Maybe it’s selfish, maybe it’s not, but I’m a realist. From my own stand-point, I would like to stop doing this before the boys tell me to stop (he laughs). I’m lucky – so far no one has said anything.

What do I do at home? Nothing I’m an absolute sloth! It’s nice to be a hermit, when you’re at events at this professional level, you’re always on, and that’s more tiring than being out on the water running races. 90% of the game is how you handle people, the stuff on the water is just 10%.

I wouldn’t say Anderson (Reggio’s son) has followed in my footsteps, he has taken a very different path. Of course he is a very good Race Officer, like very good – far better than I was at his age, but he’s also hell of a good navigator according to the guys. The performance analysis for race boats has become a big part of his work, being with Alvimedica in the last Volvo Ocean Race has really given him a niche. I’m really happy for him.

In my 30s, where I am today was a dream. Let’s put it this way I’m not smart enough to have thought of a plan to get here. There was a lot of luck involved, a lot of ‘not what you know, but who you know’.

I’ve been around so long people think it comes easy but it didn’t. It’s a wonderful lifestyle but if I was going to do it all again, I would say my biggest piece of advice would be to learn the X’s and O’s of it, the how-to on the water but more importantly, learn how to treat people how you would wish to be treated. That’s all. It’s easy.

I see it all around the world, someone doing my job afraid to make a decision on the water because they are worried how they will look when they hit the dock.Those are the people that should take up golf. It’s not about how we look running races, it’s about what is best for the sailors. Full stop.

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