BEST OF 2014 – Malingri “Dynasty”: 700,000 miles to sea


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Vittorio Enrico Francesco Porto Venere 71
Raise your hand if you are a sailor who has never heard Malingri’s name. Or rather, of a Malingri. Because it is a great dynasty that has “colonized” the last 40 years of Italian sailing. And who better than them to win the TAG Heuer VELAFestival Grand Prix in 2014? We talked in depth about Italy’s largest tribe of sailors in the March 2014 issue of the GdV
. The entire magazine would not be enough to recount the sailing exploits of the individual members of the “clan,” starting with the progenitors Doi, Franco and Amedeo: in the following pages we have focused on those of Franco and his sons Vittorio and Enrico (who, we enjoyed calculating, have at least 700,000 miles of sailing behind them). Stories linked by the quest for adventure. Explorers before sailors, the Malingri’s have lived and live sailing all around: from Mediterranean cruises to the toughest ocean races, from boat building to chartering and sailing school.

It all began on small pneumatic mats, with which Franco Malingri (born March 10, 1934), along with his brothers Doi and Amedeo, traveled down the Lambro River one night in 1948. “Why did I do it?” asks Franco, immediately answering, “For the sheer love of adventure.” That feat was followed by others, such as the descent of the Po River by canoe, from the Ticino River to Venice, or the ascent of the Nile (and one more descent, that of the Congo) aboard two Pirelli “Greyhound” speedboats, for a total of 6,000 miles, in 1958.

Until then, it is not wrong to consider the Malingrians as “freshwater sailors.” Then Doi (who passed away in 2004) married Carla Notarbartolo di Sciara, who passed on his passion for sailing, while Franco ended up at the altar with Fausta: “We got married in 1960, then came the children. Vittorio the following year, Enrico in ’62 and Francesco in ’64. There were too many of us, I couldn’t take them all in a canoe so I bought an old, used twelve-meter sailboat. Initially we kept it in Santa Margherita, Liguria, the starting point for our small cruises.”

Imagine if an “Indiana Jones” like Franco is satisfied with Portofino and its surroundings. Says son Enrico: “The first year we sailed to the Tuscan Archipelago, the next year we were in the Aeolian Islands, and the summer after that we were in Greece, which remains to this day our destination for boating vacations“. Franco learns quickly: this is the late 1960s, and grinding out a few hundred miles, without instruments, with only the help of nautical charts and sextant, constitutes a feat. Before long he is also ready to teach: “I remember one year,” speaking is Franco, “we taught sailing school to all our friends’ children. Leaving for Greece, for the Malingrians, means just that: leaving for Greece, never stopping except to refuel. “I was about six years old,” Enrico recalls, “when my father took me with him on the boat transfer from Naples to Athens. Just him and me, because Vittorio and Francesco had measles. In the course of all those years, there is no Greek island on which we did not land: a Malingri, on a cruise, never returns twice to the same place!” Franco knows how to make himself respected on board, and he organizes sailing in shifts, both watch and galley (this is so he can sail at night): an approach that his sons inherit in toto and apply in turn. For example, Vittorio, who now “frolics” around the oceans with his Ocean Experience offshore sailing school, places special emphasis on teaching shift management.

Meanwhile, something happens that suggests to explorer Franco that the Mediterranean, while fascinating, is a big cage. His brother Doi in 1967 became the first sailor to cross the Atlantic on a cruising boat (he did so aboard the Arpège Chica Boba in the company of Paolo Mascheroni).Franco, together with his young sons, helped him prepare the boat at Cantieri Mostes in Genoa, and on that occasion his irrepressible desire for the ocean first manifested itself. A craving he would satisfy on the first legendary Whitbread in 1973-74, when he was aboard the prototype Koala 50 CS&RB Busnelli (built by Nordcantieri to a design by Robert Clark, designer of Chichester’s Gipsy Moth III), for which he was also project manager. He will make the leg from Cape Town to Sydney along with Doi, who will instead complete the entire race.

Screenshot 2014-12-22 at 12.11.14AROUND THE WORLD WITH THE FAMILY
“It was not yet finished Whitbread that I made an agreement with the shipyard to buy the boat,” Franco explains. The purpose is obvious: to give himself and his family a tour of the world. After all, the Malingrians have traveled many miles in the Mediterranean, and the step beyond the Pillars of Hercules is almost obligatory. In 1977 Franco set off aboard the CS&RB with his wife and three children on the voyage of a lifetime. Thus Enrico: “Dad had decided to embark on this adventure three years earlier. In fact, at work (Franco was an engineer and manager, ed.) he had communicated three years in advance his intention to take a sabbatical, just as the French heads of families did, the only long-range cruisers at the time.” The family gives up its moorings with one goal: to go all the way. “Vittorio and I were in high school science, Francis even in middle school. We arrived in June with three subjects to remediate in September. My father thought about it, didn’t care, and we left anyway. Our journey lasted twenty months: we missed two years of school, remediating as private students with the three-year-in-one formula.”

Over the course of the round-the-world trip on the CS&RB, the crew consisted of family members, joined by friends and relatives from time to time. At least 25-30 people took turns on board the boat. Again, we sailed according to the dictates of Captain Franco: strict shifts (he even instituted a prize for the watch pair that would grind the most miles, sparking competition between brothers) and long stretches without stopping. “We left Santa Margherita directly for Gibraltar,” says Enrico, “with no stops in between. From there we aimed for the Canary Islands, where we stopped on one island, to hunt (if you want meat on a boat you have to get it, that’s the Malingri philosophy). So we directed the bow to Saint Lucia, where Uncle Doi was on business. We had set sail from Liguria in June and a month later we were in the Caribbean.”

Franco, Fausta, Vittorio, Enrico and Francesco do not stay long in the Caribbean seas. They stay a bit in the Grenadines, then Los Roques Islands (a coral archipelago in Venezuela), Curacao, and the San Blas. “I wanted the Pacific,” Franco explains: past the Panama Canal, they head to the Las Perlas Islands, then the Cocos, the Galapagos until they reach the Marquesas in French Polynesia. The trip continues to the Tuamotu, Tahiti and other Society Islands. All the way to Fiji. “We have been wandering around the Pacific for a year, with no set destination,” Enrico declares.

“When we arrived in Fiji, Mom went home. We were the only ones left with Dad. We made the crossing to Darwin, Australia, where Francis left us because he had to go to take his eighth grade exam in Milan. Father also had to return because his presence was required in the USSR where he was overseeing the construction of some mold-cutting machinery he had designed.” But instead of arranging for the family to return to Italy, Franco left Vittorio (17) and Enrico (15) alone on board in Bali. They are joined by a Swedish publisher friend of their uncle and his very cute daughters.. With them they make the crossing to the Seychelles (3,400 miles) with a week spent in the midst of a 30-knot tropical storm. “In the Seychelles we were joined by our father, and with him we headed to Suez, via Aden, Yemen.”

“At the entrance to the Gulf of Suez,” Henry continued, “there is a passage of about 20 miles bordered by two coral reefs. There are only 5-6 good miles to sail inland. Moral of the story: we had to do it at night, in 30 knots of air, upwind, exhausted after three days of bow wind in the Red Sea. In total darkness, among the ships passing by and turning every quarter of an hour. We would have liked to rest for a while at anchor in the bay of Sokotra Island before venturing into the passage, but the Egyptian military informed us, with a few gunshots, that we could not stay at anchor. Instead of waiting at the hood, we decided to go. My father stood at the chart and, log in hand, calculated the course to be followed in real time. A memorable night.” After Suez comes the return to the Mediterranean and the return to everyday life.

What’s next? Franco relies on “headhunters” to find work, deciding to set up his own business. Henry and Vittorio return to school, the former goes to work, the latter enrolls in college but drops out after six months. He joins his father, who has since discovered himself as a nautical designer. “A friend bought the shell of a Sciomachen boat,” says Franco, “and asked me to set it up. I then decided I wanted to design boats; being an engineer I had all the means. I taught the craft to Vittorio as well.” 1982 saw the birth of the first Moana 45 (Moana, in Polynesian, means “blue of the deep sea”), designed by Malingri in a Pesaro shipyard (later moved to Fano). A devouring sailor’s boat for devouring sailors. This would be followed by the Moana 39 in 1983, the Moana 33 in 1984 (one built by Vittorio, the other by Enrico, who has since become infected by the family craze), the Moana 30, and the Moana 60 with which Vittorio (who had built it himself) would participate in the 1992 Vendée Globe.

Of course, being cooped up in a boatyard building boats after a while tires the Malingri: the opportunity for a new adventure comes in the form of Cuban entrepreneurs who want to open a resort in Cayo Largo while developing the sailing business there. They meet Vittorio at the Boat Show (where he is exhibiting the Moana 33) and decide he is the right person. Thus was born an ante litteram velaturismo in Cuba, run by Vittorio and Franco with the help of Enrico and Francesco: the four of them brought the CS&RB, the Moana 39 and two “pirogoni,” multihulls made by Franco to cope with the shallow reefs. The activity will go on for four years. Meanwhile, Vittorio’s childhood friend Giovanni Soldini travels to Cuba to work with him and falls permanently in love with ocean sailing. From there the Soldini-Malingri human and sporting partnership will be born.

soldini-malingri…AND REGATORS
Says Enrico well, “The Malingri family has two souls: one more cruising, embodied by me, my brother Francesco and my cousins, the other devoted to competitive racing. That of Uncle Doi, Franco and Vittorio.” Franco participated in three Ostar (two he did “against” Vittorio, the one in 1992 and 1996, because in the one in 1988 his son had failed to start, beached in the transfer to Plymouth), Vittorio, probably the most famous of the Malingri racers, in 1992 was the first Italian to take part in the Vendée Globe (he would retire due to damage to the rudder), in 1996 he came third in the Ostar (in that edition Franco would appear aboard the trimaran Star Trek, which would break down forcing him to retire), and in the same year he won the Rome for Two together with Enrico. From 1998 onward, an endless amount of sailing and transoceanic: solo, double, crewed, with lifelong friend Giovanni Soldini. “He must have logged at least 500,000 miles,” speculates Henry, who affectionately calls him “the trucker of the seas.” In December 2005 along with Soldini, he capsized with the trimaran Tim during the Transat Jacques Vabre: it was a hard blow for him, but he would bounce back by setting the record on the Dakar-Guadalupa route (from Senegal to the Lesser Antilles), 2,545 miles traveled solo aboard the 20-foot Royal Oak uninhabitable, self-built catamaran.

Vittorio now runs the aforementioned Ocean Experience offshore sailing school, while Enrico founded RAK Sailing Academy in Al Hamra Marina in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. A sailing school that aims to develop the sport in the Persian Gulf, targeting locals and the many foreign residents, while offering European sailors the opportunity to sail during the winter season.




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