Patrick Phelipon, a Franco-Roman on a world tour (with Cino Ricci’s sextant)


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In June 2018, history will be made again.
Exactly 50 years after the first, legendary Golden Globe Race, the nonstop solo round-the-world race (the one that enshrined Robin Knox-Johnston and Bernard Moitessier), thirty daring On 32- to 36-foot boats built before 1988 with a minimum displacement of 6,200 kg and a long keel Will sail from Falmouth (UK) on June 16, 2018 to circumnavigate the globe via the Cape of Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, without the aid of electronic instruments. There are as many as four Italians among the 30 participants, or rather, three plus one. The “one” has been called “the most Italian of French navigators.” He is Patrick Phelipon, born in 1953, a lifelong member of Cino Ricci’s “clique” in Italy. who went “fishing” for him in France, where the navigator already boasted an enviable pedigree (he was aboard Tabarly’s Pen Duick VI). We contacted the French-Romagna skipper and hear what he told us (photo by Fabio Taccola)

patrick-phelipon_couch_ftl6191OUR INTERVIEW WITH PHELIPON
Patrick, tell us about your ocean experiences.

“I was fortunate enough to sail for a full year with Eric Tabarly aboard the Pen Duick VI and we sailed, on the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973, from Portsmouth to Rio (with a dismasting), Rio to Capetown, Capetown to Sydney, Sydney to Rio, Rio to Brest and Brest to Newport (in Rhode Island) and then participated in the Newport to Bermuda Race. Other than that I sailed on many occasions along the European coasts of the Atlantic, I’m originally from La Rochelle, it was easy for me.”

But after all you’ve already done, at 63 years old, who’s making you put yourself back out there?
“I don’t see my participation in the 2018 Golden Globe Race as putting myself back in the game, but rather crowning a long (and I hope anyway that it doesn’t end with this roundabout) “career in sailing” with a truly fascinating challenge, not at all obvious, that in a way brings me back to my debut in the sport as if to close a circle. When I participated in the round-the-world race with Tabarly, even though I was only one of 14 crew members, we sailed as I will have to do at GGR 2018, that is, with sextant, SSB radio and a few other instruments. I am counting a lot on my almost 360-degree career path, my technical knowledge, and my racing experience to prepare the boat and arrive on the finish line in the best possible way.”

Eric Tabarly
Eric Tabarly

Your favorite sailor of all time ?
“This is a question I have a hard time answering because I immediately have to make distinctions: for ocean sailing certainly Eric Tabarly, but I have a lot of admiration for the various Riou, Le Cléac’h, Gabart and Coville. In another way I have a lot of admiration for Cino Ricci for how he has always managed to compose crews with people seemingly incompatible with each other, but who with him at the head have always “pulled the wagon” in the same direction and with maximum commitment. Finally, I have always admired Tom Blackaller for his racing skills around the buoys and his joy in living his passion.”

You’re not just an ocean sailor, are you? In short, tell us what have you been up to in your life?
“In short? Listing my resume has always been difficult for me because I can think of so many things I have done that I cannot make a complete list evaluating the most relevant stages. We can say that as a sailor in addition to round the world sailing there have been several Admiral’s cup, Fastnet Race, Half ton Cup, Quarter ton Cup, Mini ton Cup as well as numerous Rimini-Corfu-Rimini, Giraglia, Middle Sea Race, 151 Miglia, 500×2 of Caorle, Barcolane, Italian Offshore Championships and still many other regattas and sailings…”

The presentation of the Effraie mini tonner in the December/January 1976 issue of the Journal of Sailing
The presentation of the Effraie mini tonner in the December/January 1976 issue of the Journal of Sailing

Plus you designed boats.
“As a designer I designed the Effraie, the Cat Boat-rigged mini tonner that won the first Mini Ton Cup displacing everyone and leading the tonnage regulations to be changed. I designed some mass-produced boats with a good commercial result such as the P38, JNP999, Grand Duc, and others built in single units with lengths up to 60′.”

As if that wasn’t enough, you’ve also been a sailmaker.
“As a sailmaker I managed North Sails Adriatica in Cesena for several years and also made the sails for Gulliver the Swan 59 that won the first Round The World Rally also with my contribution on board for the last stages.”

An Endurance 35
An Endurance 35

What boat will you use?
“No comment for now.” On the Golden Globe website, however, it says that his boat of choice for now is the ketch Endurance 35 Floreana

If you can’t reveal it, would you still explain to us the features the boat is to have?”
“It has to be a safe, comfortable, ketch-rigged boat and possibly comfortable in winds greater than 15-20 knots of strength. I currently have a boat in sight that I hope to be able to bring to the Port of Pisa, where I will set my base. In the first weeks of January 2017 I will have to perform the necessary tests to confirm its validity. The GGR regulations say that we have until June 2017 to declare which boat we will participate in the round-the-world race with so I will evaluate in the first 6 months of 2017 whether the first choice was the right one or if I will have to lean toward another medium.”

I hated sailors_Sovra.indd
Cino Ricci, a great friend of Phelipon’s

What did your friend Cino Ricci tell you when you told him you were going to participate in GGR ?
“Cino knows, ever since he called me after the Whitbread in ’74 to prepare the Deception for the ’75 Admiral’s Cup, that I have this fixed idea in my head. When I decided to build a boat, the ULDB Italia, to do the Whitbread Round The World Race ’81, Cino put a lot of effort into finding the funds to make this project happen, which unfortunately due to the waiver of a sponsor did not allow us to participate. So Cino was not surprised when I informed him of my intention and immediately offered to give me his Sextant: then he made a few phone calls to help me raise the funds to be able to buy a boat and he will surely continue to help me in this adventure with his valuable advice and his support at potential sponsors that are always necessary for these enterprises.”

In addition to Phelipon, Neree Cornuz, who will race in the colors of Switzerland but speaks Procidese, Francesco Cappelletti, from Tuscany who lives in Plymouth, and Federico Beccaria, from Rome, are listed as having entered the 2018 Golden Globe Race. We will soon introduce you to them closely as well!



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