Fifty-five years ago, in 1968, 26-year-old Erik Pascoli from Turin bought a 1965 mahogany seven-footer in England (based on a 1942 design) to cross the Atlantic solo. They call him crazy, but he doesn’t care. Here is his story.
Erik Pascoli – Rondetto 1969
With his Swallow on April 3, 1969, he left Portsmouth (Uk) for the Antilles islands of Dominica. He will arrive there 47 days later exhausted, but alive. is the first Italian to have accomplished such a feat. The feat is noticed by the British press, which makes him famous. Pascoli no longer stops. After the crossing Erik lives in the Caribbean for two years on board. Tired of life in the tropics and eager to return to Europe to seek new sailing comparisons, he decided in January 1971 to take Rondetto back to the Mediterranean on the Azores route from West to East. Midwinter sailing from Pointe-à-Pitre to Almeria in Spain takes 53 days. The new feat earned him the Yacht Club Italiano’s D’Albertis Trophy and the Yacht Club Sanremo’s City of San Remo Award.
The fever of the ocean and businesses no longer subsides. Erik in 1972, after transferring Rondetto via truck from Mentone to Plymouth, participated off the charts in the O.S.T.A.R., the solo Atlantic crossing to Newport R.I. in which the three-masted monster Vendredi 13 and Pen Duick IV, Eric Tabarly’s former boat with compatriot Alain Colas aboard, also raced. Rondetto took 48 days, including a “forced” 9-day stop in Nova Scotia due to an abscess. Erik gets his tooth out while sailing by pulling the line with a winch to which the diseased tooth is tied.
Rondetto goes very fast at Ostar at Pascoli’s command. According to the Royal Western Yacht Club’s calculations, it would have placed second in equal compensated time among monohulls. After this third Atlantic he left New York for Genoa aboard the liner Michelangelo, with Rondetto in the hold. Italy tributed him and he became one of the most famous sailors of the time. So Pascoli is hired as skipper to participate with a Swan 55 in the Whitbread, crewed round-the-world race. The regatta is saddened by the loss of four sailors one of whom belonged to Tauranga’s crew. Pascoli is the first Italian to round Cape Horn in a race; thanks to this in 1987 he is awarded the “Man of the Sea” plaque.
A new trade
In 1975 he changed careers, becoming a commander of vintage yachts. He recovered the legendary yacht Mariette in the Caribbean, and owner Alberto Rizzoli entrusted him with the command of this big boat, one of seven large steel schooners built by American Herreshoff between 1903 and 1915, the year Mariette was launched. Pascoli won numerous regattas and cups in both the waters of Porto Cervo and Saint-Tropez. Erik Pascoli continued his seafaring trade until 2013, when he died at age 71. His myth was born 55 years ago, and it is only right to remember this seafaring figure, now guiltily forgotten.