Another starter for Global Solo Challenge
Published on November 20th, 2023
On a gray autumn afternoon in the bay of A Coruña, with light southwesterly winds, Andrea Mura started the 2023-24 Global Solo Challenge on November 18, joining the fleet of thirteen competitors already at sea. His Open 50 Vento di Sardegna proudly displaying the Italian flag and the Sardinian standard on its hull.
For Mura, whose sailing career has spanned from Olympic campaigns to the America’s Cup, circumnavigating the world solo was a dream he no longer wanted to postpone. The innovative format of the Global Solo Challenge immediately appealed to him, providing the opportunity to realize a project he had failed to fulfill in 2016.
“I was aiming for the Vendée Globe because I wanted to push myself beyond the competitions I had already won. Unfortunately, that project did not come to fruition. Now, the GSC offers me the opportunity to sail around the world with my 23-year-old boat.”
Indeed, Vento di Sardegna, born from the design of Umberto Felci, has always proven to be sturdy, reliable, and well-built, and with a proven track record of results. Mura had purchased it as a training boat before transitioning to the IMOCA class. Nonetheless, over the years, he had optimized and kept the boat competitive. He changed the mast and the rigging, lightened the bulb, and, thanks to the sponsor Lamborghini, rebuilt the rudders and stanchions in titanium.
However, on several occasions, he almost decided to abandon the GSC project, but in mid-August, he made the final decision: he would be on the starting line on November 18th.
“The support of my family, especially my wife Daniela Faranna, who always encouraged me to realize this dream, was fundamental. For me, being on the starting line is already a victory. This achievement is shared with a small group of people, few but crucial, who worked tirelessly to prepare the boat and everything necessary for sailing around the world.
“Their motivation pushed me to pursue my goal. Special thanks also go to Marco Nannini, organizer of the GSC, both for creating this event and for his availability and technical support, with advice and suggestions that simplified and accelerated the preparation. A heartfelt thank you to everyone!”
In the three months following the decision to depart, Mura lived in suspense, sleeping only a few hours a night to finish the preparations. As a racer and athlete, he would have preferred more time to work “with a smile” and without hurry. However, in the end, he had to focus on the main goal: preparing the boat to sail quickly and safely.
Facing a four-month round-the-world trip is not a light undertaking for Mura. He prepared with the utmost commitment and now aims to achieve the best possible result.
Arriving in A Coruña a week before departure, after a long upwind transfer battling against sea and wind, he set off upwind again, encountering stronger headwinds towards the tip of Finisterre. The Italian skipper stated that his initial strategy is conservative, but once he gets into the rhythm of sailing and regains his strength, he will go on the offensive to catch up with the fleet ahead of him. He does not hide his aspiration to be the first to cross the finish line.
Mura’s boat was previously owned by Pasquale de Gregorio who participated with the boat in the 2000-01 Vendée Globe in the Open 50’ category, which was then called Wind Express. “The GSC meets the interest of many amateur sailors and young people aspiring to participate in the Vendée Globe,” shared de Gregorio. “This was already evident from the initial number of people who had expressed their interest. Furthermore, the fact that the smaller boats start first increases the safety of the entire fleet.”
Now eighty years old, de Gregorio fondly recalls the birth of the vessel from the design of Felci Yachts and built by the SC shipyard in Latina, with the technical specifications of SP Technologies in Southampton.
“It fills me with pride to know that my boat, launched in 2000, continues to sail and is about to complete another round-the-world voyage. For me, she’s like a daughter. My wife Oriana and I personally assembled the hull, deck, and bulkheads. Even though I did not have all the satisfaction I would have wanted at sea, building the boat was a true success. My only regret is not having had a second chance to enjoy her sailing.”
With Mura’s departure, the number of skippers at sea rises to fourteen. The question now is: will the Italian sailor be able to catch up with the smaller boats that started earlier?
Dafydd Hughes and Philippe Delamare are already sailing in the Indian Ocean, navigating in the carousel of depressions. Edouard De Keyser is heading towards Cape Town for some repairs. Louis Robein finally seems to have escaped the light winds of the St. Helena high that the competitors further back will have to try to navigate around, on a longer route but maintaining good winds and high speeds. Alessandro Tosetti has passed the Cape Verde archipelago and is preparing to face the doldrums.
There remains three skippers to start. Kevin Le Poidevin, the Australian skipper of Roaring Forty who has been delayed, has resolved his back problems and the last-minute technical issues with his boat, and is preparing to depart in the coming week.
RTD: Juan Merediz – Class40, Sorolla
RTD: Peter Bourke – Class40, Imagine
DNS: Ivan Dimov – Endur37, Blue Ibis
The inaugural Global Solo Challenge 2023-24 seeks to be a budget-friendly solo, non-stop race around the world. Using a pursuit format for the 2023-24 race, entrants from 34 to 70 feet will depart between August 26 to January 6 from A Coruña, Spain, with the first boat to return deemed the winner.