Father and son, the Malingrians and that Ocean that is not for pansies

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Father and son, on an uninhabitable cat, salt spray in the face for days, a physically taxing feat.

Here we go again, once more on the hunt for a record, once more on their F20 Feel Good: father and son, Vittorio and Nico Malingri, will go on the hunt for a mythical record, a real challenge and strema during which there will literally be breath holding, on the Dakar-Guadalupe route. The Atlantic on a 20-foot sport cat, albeit modified to cope with offshore sailing, is not child’s play and requires maximum preparation for boat and men.

Vittorio and Nico Malingri are on standby in Dakar, Senegal, waiting for the right weather window to take off on their “Atlantic flight.” The key variable, of course, will be the mood of the Tradewind, whose consistency will be crucial to the success of the record and in a sense also to the safety of the two sailors. An initial weather window may have been identified for March 20-21, but there is no guarantee that the trade wind will be sufficiently stable in the following days.

The two Malingrians aboard Feel Good. The two Italian navigators are part of the Citroen Unconventional Team

So Vittorio: “There is a possible window on the 20th-21st but we don’t know if the trade wind will last past the 25th where we could be about halfway through. Also there is a route option of passing through the middle of the Cape Verde Islands, and one that would instead take us further south of the islands at the beginning to sail on the 13/14 south parallel after that. It’s a matter of extra miles to go one way or the other, and you have to choose the one that will make us sail with more confidence of having wind the whole way.”

An epic record

The record is held by Frenchmen Yves Moreau and Benoit Lequin who made the crossing in 11 days, 11 hours, 25 minutes and 42 seconds in 2007. Before them the benchmark time was set by Matteo Miceli and Andrea Gancia in 2005 in 13 days, 13 hours, 58 minutes and 27 seconds. After the French record, there were two Italian attempts: the first by Miceli himself paired with Tullio Picciolini in 2011, which ended with Biondina Nera’s scuffing and dismasting. The second was attempted in 2013 by Luca Tosi and Andrea Rossi, which ended in virtually similar fashion, but in both cases the Italian crews were sailing strong, with a good lead over the French record and a good chance of setting the new record.

It was on the latter occasion that Vittorio Malingri wrote an article for the Giornale della Vela that caused a stir and caused much discussion, titled “Ocean is not for pussies.” Harsh and incisive words, which many did not like, but which after all over the years may have served as an incentive for other record-hunting athletes.

Vittorio Malingri in 2008 set the solo record on the same course with a time of 13 days, 17 hours and 48 minutes.

Mauro Giuffrè

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