In 1981 the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda promoted the first Italian challenge for the America's Cup, two years later, in 1983 the International 12 Metre Class Azzurra arrived and, alongside football and Formula 1, the sport of sailing became an Italian obsession.

The project was the brainchild of H.H. the Aga Khan and the automotive industrialist Gianni Agnelli, and achieved results that would go down in the history books of Italian sailing. The Azzurra team that came close to triumphing in the America's Cup was led by skipper Cino Ricci and helmsman Mauro Pelaschier, and boasted an organisational structure headed by Gianfranco Alberini, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo and Riccardo Bonadeo, and supported by 17 companies.

"We will face this breathtaking series of regattas with the humility of newcomers but with the conviction that we are worthy of participating.” H.H. the Aga Khan, on Azzurra's debut in the America's Cup in 1983.

Azzurra, a hull belonging to the International12 Metre Class designed by the Andrea Vallicelli studio, was launched on 19 July 1982 in Pesaro and began its adventure in Newport, Rhode Island (USA) on 18 June 1983. As the very first Italian syndicate competing in the America's Cup, Azzurra placed third in the Louis Vuitton Cup winning 24 out of her 49 races.

The passion ignited between the Italian population and Azzurra during the 1983 adventure was as strong as ever four years later, in 1987, when the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda launched a second challenge for the America's Cup.
The YCCS travelled to Fremantle, Australia, as Challenger of Record alongside 12 other clubs, including a second Italian syndicate named Italia, and 6 American teams.
The helm of Azzurra 3, another design by the Andrea Vallicelli studio, was once again entrusted to Mauro Pelaschier.