From the Namibian desert to triumph in Menorca. The incredible story of Namib


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NamibPietro Bianchi wanted to buy a wooden gozzo to go swimming with his family along the Ligurian coast, but a series of coincidences led him to triumph over all in the “classic” category of the just-concluded Menorcan leg of the Panerai Trophy. Imagine a Namibian desert travel enthusiast, a lawyer who prefers deserts to the forum, who one fine day in 2010 decides, without ever having set foot on a boat, to buy himself a 1967 Sangermani, refit it, and start and race it involving four cousins, also almost entirely strangers to the sailing world. A peculiar idea, to start with a vintage boat, a craft that requires care and experience, instead of launching on a modern, easy and comfortable boat.

All this followed a series of interesting coincidences: a walk in the harbor of Varazze where he discovered the wooden hull in a state of semi-abandonment “I didn’t have a clear idea,” he tells me, “I was only looking for a wooden boat, because it’s a material I love a lot, but I was completely unfamiliar with the world of boating, so I got advice from a friend. Fiberglass boats I didn’t even consider”; then reading an article in our newspaper that connects him to Davide Besana, who sailed on that boat as a child and decided to help Pietro with the management of the Namib (that’s how the boat is renamed) and the formation of a crew that could try racing.

After a restoration that lasted from 2010 to 2012, the boat is ready: permanent crew members are three of Pietro Bianchi’s cousins, also rookies. However, a change of gear was needed to be able to race, so Davide Besana decided to propose a “golden deal” to Bianchi: “there would be a chance to have Mauro Pelaschier on the boat,” “and who is he ?” After a history of sailing lesson, Peter became convinced and involved Mauro, “the master,” as they call him on board. In Mahon I raced with them, together we won overall in the “classic” category, it was a wonderful four days, not only because of the wonderful victory but because this crew is starring in one of the magical aspects of sailing. That is, the closeness and direct contact that exists between great champions and fans.

Within a year, Mauro and David created a crew from scratch, and brought in winners from people who had never set foot in the boat. Racing together with them was really fun: anyone who knows Mauro Pelaschier knows what it means to sail with him: he turns into a lion who wants the best from everyone on board. He loves perfection, neglects no detail and can thrill everyone with his hunger for victory. He can get eyes everywhere, while taking a sip of white wine (inevitable on board) he can feel if the course is too hemmed in by a few degrees. The boat not walking for him is a pain and he can rarely hold back a “poggia Besana,we’re as still as stockfish!” which when he is most inspired turns into a Triestine “pojate Lidia!” Sniffing, champion’s instinct. During an upwind side with little air, given the constant wind shifts “the master” would not stop giving advice to everyone on how to make the boat walk as much as possible,at one point a wonderful line from Besana exploded, “Mauro, if you want to go below deck and rest for an hour, I can insult myself every five minutes!“. A beautiful victory then, on a resounding race course.

imageMahon Harbor is a true gift from nature, an unassailable and perfectly sheltered fjord where a festive atmosphere reigns every day, especially among the docks of sailors and their Gin Tonics. It is no coincidence that Admiral Horatio Nelson had a home in this port, from which he commanded everyone from above.

Big Boats: Mariquita
Era: Chinook
Marconi Era: Sirius
Spirit of Tradition: Calima



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