Stories from Jacques Vabre: a chat with Andrea Fornaro on Influence2


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Andrea Fornaro
Transat Jacques Vabre, Andrea Fornaro on Influence2 at the start.

Jacques Vabre: a chat with Andrea Fornaro about Class40 Influence2

The Transat Jacques Vabre is still a great unknown. The Ultim are now well on their way, while the Imoca still remain storm-bound in Le Havre, as are the Class40s and Ocean50s, stranded in the Breton port of Lorient after a particularly challenging sprint (HERE our article). Even before all that was outlined, however, we had a chance to talk with Andrea Fornaro, who graciously welcomed us aboard his Class40 Influence2, the second of 3 Musa40s launched, to date, by Sangiorgio Marine.

Below you will find both a report of our chat and the full video interview. Meanwhile, Fornaro arrived in Lorient, 11 in the sprint, navigating complicated conditions and always in the lead group.

On board with Andrea Fornaro

Andrea Fornaro, by now, is a well-known navigator on the scene and, here in Le Havre, he is one of the 6 faces of the Italian Ocenica Wave, the term coined to define the many Italian navigators on the starting line of this Transat Jacques Vabre. Starting from the beginning, however, let’s begin with a very specific fact: we are -2 days away from departure, the first participation in Jacques Vabre for Andrea, with 4500 miles of ocean still on the bow, destination: the French overseas territories, Martinique.

“This is my first Jacques Vabre, but it is already the sixth time that, theoretically, I am about to cross the Atlantic. That said, first of all, it is an honor for me to be here, surrounded by these great sailors. It has been, I must say, not an easy journey, both in terms of preparation and budget. An obstacle race, in short, but to have made it has a special flavor. And I really have to thank the team, a fantastic group. They always, always work, something that almost moves me. It certainly fills me with energy.”

Andrea Fornaro
Andrea Fornaro and Edoardo Bianchi (Sangiorgio Marine)| Matteo Paolillo Photographer

GDV | We are at the 16th Jacques Vabre, new boat and many miles in sight. And there are two days to go. How do you feel on the eve of this departure, even in view of this particularly challenging weather.

AF | “We are finalizing the last details, the last things, but let’s say we are there. The start will be very hard, with the first 24 hours very very hard. Then, past the front, we will have a recovery time, followed by two more big fronts. In short, we will have to be quick to run south, trying to avoid the bulk of what comes next. We’ll see. However, thanks to the guys on board, the shore team, the boat should be okay and, in short, we should be in a position to handle it.”

GDV | Looking, instead, at the competitive, sporting aspect, what goal have you ideally set for yourself with this Transat Jacques Vabre?

AF | “So, as a real goal top ten, top ten. It’s a very high level fleet and, I mean, getting in the top ten would be our goal, yes. Then, top five or top three would really be a party. But realistically speaking, though, to finish in the top 10 we could be satisfied.”

GDV | Double Regatta. A curiosity that we always have, also to see the differences in approach, how did you organize your life on board, did you give yourselves separate specific tasks?

AF | “We split the classic two-hour shifts, with me dealing mainly with navigation and strategy and Benoit more on sail trim. But you know, we’ve never sailed together, though, so there will be room to define things. Then we’re big, we’ve sailed a lot, I don’t think there will be any problems.” “Then I sail a lot in crew, so good or bad I can respect other people’s psychologies.”

GDV | A very strong fleet, we said. Who are the favorites, in your opinion, and who do you fear most?

AF | “In my opinion, the favorite above all is Ambrose [Beccaria ndr], the one who, if he doesn’t win it, loses the regatta. Then Alberto Riva in my opinion is very good, podium-worthy. Then Bona, very strong in doubles and with a very good co-skipper. And some French people. In short, at least a dozen podium boats are there.”

GDV | To date, 3 Musa40s have been launched from Sangiorgio Marine. Yours is the second, preceded by Alla Grande Pirelli, by Beccaria, and Acrobatica, the last to go down in the water, by Riva. Are there specific differences related to the qualities of yours? Purposeful choices to best accommodate the boat to your sailing style?

AF | “Absolutely. First of all, my interiors are white, while the others are not, then I didn’t want a steerable bowsprit, opting for a fixed one. You know, I really prefer the comfort and maneuverability of the boat, and this is perhaps a characteristic of mine, which is reflected in the choices. Then, our keel should be slightly bigger. And so many other details, you always try different things. Then, the speeds anyway are similar…”

GDV | To close, and not to take up too much of your time, a question a little bit of ritual, a little bit of color: Is there a figure, among the great sailors, that you could identify as a “myth” of yours, or at least an inspiration?

AF | “This is a difficult question, I almost can’t answer You know, I’ve sailed a lot, even in Olympic classes. And maybe it’s the people around me that really affected, even my career. To say, Torben Grael is one of great value that I have known, then Tommaso Chieffi, who I have sailed with and is a great inspiration. But, you know, a sailor just, mmm, I don’t think I have any….”


LE HAVRE, FRANCE – OCTOBER 29 : Class 40 boats are taking the start of Transat Jacques Vabre in Le Havre, France, on October 29, 2023. (photo by Jean-Marie Liot / Alea)

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