In 2012, the Sailor of the Year was awarded to Marco Nannini, from Turin, class of 1978: he was awarded “in absentia,” as he was at the time participating in the Global Ocean Race (round-the-world race in stages in doubles): among his outstanding achievements certainly was winning the legendary Ostar (solo Atlantic crossing from Plymouth to Newport) aboard a Sigma 36.
WE HAD WRITTEN ABOUT HIM
Taken from The Journal of Sailing March 2012. Marco Nannini four years ago set his mind on participating in a race around the world.Doubling the Cape of Good Hope and the Horn, reaching the coasts of New Zealand and South America with a sailboat-that was his dream. He never thought of joining a crew, because from the beginning he wanted to be the sole director of his own destiny, taking everything: joys and sufferings.
He is now taking part in the Global Ocean Race, undoubtedly one of the most grueling races in the world, because although it is not contested solo, but with crews of only two people, it is contested with Class 40s, boats just 12 meters long, which have little to do with the ultra-modern 60-footers (18 meters) of solo sailors or the Open 70s (21 meters) of the Volvo Ocean Race. But, for Marco Nannini, the means by which he achieves his goal has never been a primary factor.
In 2009, at the age of 31, he competed in (and won in his own class) the historic Ostar with a Sigma 36; yes, he took on the famous solo transatlantic, from Plymouth (England) to Newport (U.S.), that of the Chichesters, Tabarly, Poupon, Peyron, as well as Soldini, Manzoli and Malingri, with a standard nine-meter standard boat, popular in Britain for family cruising. After all, it was in England that Nannini was thunderstruck by a passion for ocean sailing.
Born and raised in Turin, Italy, he moved permanently to London after graduating in economics to work in finance. “My teenage dream was to sail around the world, but simply to cruise,” he says. “In England, boating is one of the best things to do as soon as you have free time, so I started participating in regattas and then it was impossible to stop.” In 2005 he found a nice used Sigma 36 (from 1984), modified it a bit, and four years ago he was on the starting line of the most famous ocean race. Up to that point, Marco Nannini had managed to get everything done by taking advantage of every day off granted to him by his job, but once he returned to his desk the office walls were too narrow compared to the endless horizon line he had admired in the ocean. So, that dream he had of sailing around the world came back stronger than ever and he started all over again.
In 2010, he purchased a second-hand Class 40 that he had already raced in the first edition of the Global Ocean Race and, paired with Englishman Paul Peggs, competed as a star in the Round Britain and Ireland Race, finishing second despite remaining in the lead for three of the five total legs. That same year, he entered the professional ocean sailing circuit for good, taking part in the Route du Rhum, the 3500-mile solo transatlantic race from France to Guadeloupe.
At that point, the plan to participate in the Global Ocean Race can no longer be stopped, despite the fact that there are endless difficulties to overcome. These included even a dismasting in the early hours of sailing in the Fastnet race, which, with less than two months to go before the start of the round-the-world race, was to be the final test. Not only that; Nannini to the last is looking unsuccessfully for a major sponsor who can ensure that he can compete on an equal footing with his rivals, which include Ross Field, the New Zealander who won the Whitbread in 1994 with the WOR 60 Yamaha. But the will to go wins out over everything, and with the boat ironically renamed Financial Crisis, he was on the starting line last Sept. 25 with the British motto: “To win a race, you must first finish it.”