Stories from the Jacques Vabre: “14-year-old me in Le Havre to meet my legend (thanks to GdV)”


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Transat Jacques Vabre 2023
The start of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2023; Le Havre (photo by Jean-Marie Liot / Alea). IBSA, by Alberto Bona, is in the upper left corner.

In Le Havre, watching the start of the
16th Transat Jacques Vabre
, the legendary “Route du Café,” everyone was there. Full docks and fans everywhere. Among them were Alessandro Giay Pron, whom we had honored a few months ago as the author of an endorsement to the 2023 Sailor of the Year (you can read it here) Alberto Bona, skipper of the Class40 IBSA.

From there it was a short step. Alberto Bona and Team IBSA read Alessandro’s endorsement and immediately invited him to see the start and meet Bona in person. Below is his Reportage from Le Havre:

The start of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2023; Le Havre (photo by Jean-Marie Liot / Alea)

“Me at Jacques Vabre to meet my hero (thanks to GdV)”

In June, I won first prize in the 2023 Sailor of the Year election, organized by the Giornale Della Vela, voting for Alberto Bona.

Alberto with the IBSA team, after reading my endorsement in the Giornale della Vela, invited me to Le Havre to watch the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre and to meet him in person. When I received the email from Cecilia Giugiaro (Alberto’s girlfriend) inviting me to Le Havre, I couldn’t believe it.

For me, when I was only 14 years old, it was an unattainable dream to think that I could meet Alberto and see IBSA, his bolide, and all this happened only thanks to you, at the Journal of Sailing, who gave your readers a chance to express themselves with an endorsement where they told the reasons for choosing the ballot. Today I am in Le Havre, and I can say that I am one of the lucky few to have shaken hands with Alberto Bona, the blue pride in France, and all this only because of you.

I had the honor of speaking with Alberto, although he was caught up in IBSA’s final preparations at the start of the regatta. Alberto is a wonderful person with a very big heart: he was very hospitable and kind to me and perfectly reflected the idyllic figure I had created for myself by thinking of his accomplishments.

Alberto is the classic Savoy, just like me (we are both from Turin), he is reserved, but very friendly to everyone. He is a concrete sailor because with him, actions and results speak before words. I call him an artist (while we’re in Le Havre, home of the Impressionists..) because crossing the ocean on a sailboat in the midst of depressions and storms, always trying to push as hard as possible and stay on targets, in my opinion is an extraordinary form of art. I was struck by the passion he puts into his work and for the love of the sea that we share.

I found in Alberto all the values I had presented in the endorsement for Sailor of the Year. In my opinion, Alberto is the best sailor Italy has produced in recent years.

He is Italian pride abroad, and he showed us with all the excellent results at the last regattas. As soon as I arrived, he showed me his world and his very kind and very nice Team Manager, Luca Bertacchi, made me explore the meanderings of IBSA. This class 40 is an impressive boat, a spaceship made to cross oceans and grind out miles upon miles. I again thank the Sailing Newspaper for this wonderful initiative of the Sailor of the Year, which in my case changed my life by giving me a unique and extraordinary experience, perhaps the most intense of my life.

Alessandro Giay Pron and IBSA team manager Luca Bertacchi aboard Alberto Bona’s Class 40 IBSA

This morning at Bassin Paul Vatine in Le Havre I was there to greet Alberto as he was leaving his moorings to head for Lorient. A tear of emotion, esteem, and admiration rolled down my eye as I thought about what Alberto was about to do, and seeing him leave the harbor was an emotional moment that I will never forget in my lifetime. I will follow Alberto with the posts and on the Transat Jacques Vabre cartography and I really hope that he will win the race because he deserves it and because he is an outstanding sailor.


Alexander Giay Pron

Alberto Bona on IBSA just before exiting the dock in a photo by Alessandro Giay Pron.

You might also be interested in:

Transat Jacques Vabre 2023 – La carica italiana alla vela oceanica




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