From Soldini to Beccaria, who are the heroes of recent Italian ocean sailing

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ambrose beccaria sailingItalian sailing success in recent years

In recent days we have been following Ambrogio Beccaria’s feat. who, in his Class 40 debut race aboard the brand-new Allagrande Pirelli, took silver at the Route du Rhum (a 3,542-mile non-stop, unassisted transatlantic solo race from Saint-Malo, Brittany, to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe). A historic, frame-worthy result for a Milanese who grew up in the shadow of the Pirellone, enriching Italy’s presence in the annals of ocean offshore sailing (not counting, by the way, Alberto Bona’s great eighth place finish).

A love, that for our sailors and ocean racing that began in 1968 when Alex Carozzo, a Genoese who grew up in Venice, was the first among Italians to participate in such legendary races as the Ostar and the Golden Globe Race. It took almost 30 years before the tricolor soared on the podium and, just like today even then, a Milanese (Soldini) to make us dream.

We have summarized for you, in this sheet, all the achievements of Italian sailing in the recent past. The one where, to the pure spirit of challenge and struggle against the elements, was added the desire to confront-and win-at regattas. We have therefore selected only the most important victories and podiums: Italians people of saints, poets and navigators. These stories demonstrate this.

Italians in the Ocean – Thirty years of great feats

Giovanni Soldini in 1995

1995 – A “stranger” named Soldini

Giovanni Soldini aboard Kodak Stupefacente, an Open 50 self-built partly with the help of a recovery community for drug addicts, placed second in the 40-50-foot class-the smallest-at the BOC Challenge (later renamed Around Alone), a round-the-world sailing trip, in stages, for solo sailors, starting in Charleston, South Carolina (USA), stopping in Cape Town, Sydney, Punta del Este (Urugay) and returning to Charleston.

1996 – Soldini and Telecom italia

Giovanni Soldini with his Open 50, renamed Telecom Italia, takes the class victory in the Ostar, the most famous of the transatlantic solo races, from Plymouth (England) to Newport (USA). The race takes place from east to west, in the direction opposite the prevailing North Atlantic winds and currents, over a distance of about 3,000 nautical miles, along the route that is chosen by individual skippers. That same year he also achieved a class victory in the Transat Québec-Saint-Malo, crewed by Enrico Caccia, Andrea Tarlarini and Andrea Romanelli. A regatta from Canada to France, one of the few from West to East and the only regatta that is also river racing: boats must travel about 370 nautical miles in the St. Lawrence River from Québec City before reaching the open sea.

1998 – How “Row!”

Giovanni Soldini one year after the launch of Fila, a finot-conq-designed Open 60, wins the Atlantic Alone, a solo Atlantic crossing from Falmouth (Great Britain) to Charleston (United States), the starting place of the Around Alone. Soldini, in addition to being Overall winner, set a new record for the crossing in 21 days, 17 hours, 7 minutes and 20 seconds, despite choosing the longest route through the Azores.

1999 – Giovanni Soldini becomes a legend

Giovanni Soldini four years after placing second at Around Alone is trying again with his new boat. With this regatta he definitively etched his name in the history of not only Italian but world sailing. The first, and still only, Italian to win the solo round-the-world race, he accomplished a double feat by managing to rescue French sailor Isabelle Autissier, who was shipwrecked in the South Pacific.

Giovanni soldini
Soldini with Isabelle Autissier after the rescue at Around Alone 1998-99

On February 15, 1999, while Soldini was aboard the Open 60 Fila and engaged in the third leg of the Around Alone from Auckland (New Zealand) to Punta del Este (Uruguay), Isabelle’s boat capsized and the SOS call went out. “I will not quit until I find Isa,” Soldini had emailed the organization, abandoning the race and heading to the site of the wreck. With the nearest shore rescue more than 2,000 kilometers away, 45 knots of wind and 12 meters of wave, Giovanni Soldini found her, in the night, inside his overturned boat, at 55° south latitude and 125° west longitude, that is, in the middle of nowhere.

Giovanni Soldini's Open 60 Row.
Giovanni Soldini’s Open 60 Row.

2005. The Year of Super Fatty

Franco Manzoli a.k.a. Ciccio, aboard the 40-foot trimaran Cotonelle, is the first Italian to inscribe his name on the Ostar overall winner’s roll, prevailing over a fleet of 35 boats. Also born in Milan, like Soldini, but having moved to Chiavari, Liguria, specifically to indulge his passion for sailing, at age 48 and after four attempts (the first in 1992), he won the Ostar podium with a trimaran designed and built by himself.

Fatty Manzoli

2007-2009. More Soldini

Giovanni Soldini paired with Pietro D’Alì won in Class40, the most numerous with more than 30 boats, the Transat Jacques Vabre, also called Transat en double (as opposed to the English Transat-the Ostar-which is solo), covering the 4335 miles between Le Havre (France) and Salvador de Bahia (Brazil) aboard Telecom Italia.

In 2008 Soldini again won aboard the Class40 Telecom Italia a solo transatlantic, The Transat, or the professional version of the historic OSTAR, which after the 2000 edition had been split into two events (the Ostar for amateurs and The Transat for professionals).

In 2009, Giovanni Soldini and Pietro D’Alì teamed up again in La Solidaire du Chocolat, the 5,000-nautical-mile nonstop transoceanic regatta that sails from the port of Saint-Nazaire in Nantes, France, to Progreso in Yucatan Province, Mexico, following the ancient route of the chocolate trade. Their Telecom Italia closes in second place out of 24 Class40.

Italian sailing 2010 – Andrea Mura at the Rhum Route

Andrea Mura, a former racer (and sailor on the Moro di Venezia in 1992) wins in the Rhum Class, the most diverse, the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, a transatlantic solo race with no stopovers and no assistance, with Vento di Sardegna, an Open 50 launched in 2006 with this goal in mind.

The Open 50 Vento di Sardegna of Andrea Mura

Starting from St. Malo in Brittany, France, he reached Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe (an archipelago in the French Antilles) in 19 days 9 hours 40 minutes and 30 seconds. Andrea Carracci, with his Speedy Matese ITA 756 prototype, was third at Les Sables – Les Acores – Les Sables, a solo offshore race for the Mini 6.50 class that goes from the French Atlantic coast to the Azores Islands and then back to France.

Andrea Mura

Italian sailing 2012-13 – Mura again!

Andrea Mura and Riccardo Apolloni aboard Vento di Sardegna win the 2012 Two Handed Transatlantic Race (Twostar), breaking the record for the doubles version of the legendary race from Plymouth (England) to Newport (USA). On the way back, embarking also Tommaso Stella and Luca Tosi, they crossed the finish line of the Québec-Saint-Malo in fourth place overall, first among monohulls. The following year Andrea Mura won Line Honours (overall winner) at the Ostar, aboard the monohull Vento di Sardegna.

2013 – Pedote comes close to success at Mini Transat

Giancarlo Pedote finishes second in the Mini Transat, a transatlantic race aboard the small Mini 6.50. A great success with the somewhat bitter taste of defeat because Giancarlo had been leading the race from shortly after the start from Saba (France) and until the penultimate day, after 14 days of sailing, before reaching Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe.

The breakage of the bowsprit, essential to tack spinnaker and gennaker, with 300 miles to go and the time lost to repair his Prysmian ITA 747, a prototype bow “scow,” earned him a historic victory.

Italian sailing 2014 – Mura, Pedote, Zambelli. What a trio!

Andrea Mura wins silver (first among monohulls) at the Route du Rum – Destination Guadeloupe in Rhum Class with his Vento di Sardegna. Italians Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian) and Michele Zambelli (Fontanot – ITA 788) finished first and third, respectively, among prototypes at Les Sables – Les Acores – Les Sables.

2015 – Pedote’s La Jacques Vabre

Giancarlo Pedote, paired with Frenchman Erwan Le Roux and aboard Fenêtréa-Prysmian, finished third overall, and won in the Multi 50 class, the Transat Jacques Vabre, 5700 miles from Le Havre (France) to Itajai (Brazil).

Italian sailing success

Italian sailing 2016 – Bogi and Albi arrive

Alberto Bona with Promostudi La Spezia – ITA 756 was second among the prototypes in Les Sables – Les Acores – Les Sables while Ambrogio Beccaria took second place among the series hulls with Alla Grande Ambeco – ITA 539.

Italian sailing players
At left is Alberto Bona. Right Ambrose Beccaria.

2017 – Double win at Ostar for Mura

Andrea Mura reconfirms his victory at the Ostar with Vento di Sardegna, having already won it in 2013. A victory, his second in a row, marked by storms, with winds up to 50 knots and waves over 8 meters, rain but mostly ice and polar temperatures on a course that took him as far as the 56th parallel as no one had ever done before.

2018 – Ambrose Beccaria grows…

Ambrogio Beccaria, with the mini 6.50 Geomag – ITA 943 (standard), won the Les Sables – Les Acores – Les Sables, the only Italian in the race among 38 competitors.

Italian sailing 2019 – … And get big!

Ambrogio Beccaria makes history by winning, with Geomag, the Mini Transat, the transatlantic for small Mini 6.50s. The third non-French sailor in the history of the race to achieve this and the first Italian, he completed the three legs (from La Rochelle in France, to the Canary Islands to finish in Le Marin in Martinique) in 21 days, 21 hours, 50 minutes and 55 seconds. Ambrogio Beccaria and Pietro Luciani, aboard Catherine Pourre’s Eärendil, win Le Defì Ataltique, an Atlantic crossing from West to East reserved for Class40s: 3500 miles divided into two legs, the first from Gudalupe to Horta, in the Azores, and the second with destination La Rochelle (France). We at the Sailing Newspaper will honor him as Sailor of the Year in both 2019 and 2020.

Italian sailing 2021 – Alberto comes (a moral victory?)

Alberto Riva (from Milan, a great friend of Ambrogio Beccaria and now on his AllaGrande team), aboard EdiliziAcrobatica – ITA 993, finished second among the series hulls at the Mini Transat.

soldini riva beccaria
Alberto Riva

Having arrived 11th at the finish of the first leg in La Palma, under the ashes of the erupting Cumbre Vieja volcano and the controversy of an unclear stop by the race committee (Alberto was first when the organization asked competitors to stop to avoid a strong disturbance), in the second leg he slipped down to 45th position and then made an incredible comeback to the lead. A moral victory but also a success that confirms the qualities of the Italian Mini 6.50 Class school.

2022 – Bogi and silver at the Route du Rhum

Aboard the Class 40 AllaGrande Pirelli Ambrogio Beccaria, in his first transatlantic in Class 40, managed to take a splendid second place out of 55 participating boats, ahead of the French masters of the Ocean. In eighth place was another Italian, Alberto Bona with the Class 40 IBSA, author of an excellent regatta

Italian sailing
The Class 40 Allagrande Pirelli

Edited by Giacomo Barbaro

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