©Andrea Mura – Route du Rhum – October 2010 – Photocredit: AFPA
Italian sailor Andrea Mura is driven by a special wind, a wind that carries the name and spirit of his homeland: Sardinia. This wind has not only inspired the name of his project and his boat, “Vento di Sardegna” (Wind of Sardinia), but also symbolizes the pride he has for his origins. Speaking of his dream, Mura states: “I wish to sail around the world solo by participating in the Global Solo Challenge with my boat companion of a thousand adventures. In 2007, I bought this Open 50’ with the intention of making Sardinia known throughout the world through my sporting endeavors. Indeed, since 2008, I have sailed under the Sardinian flag called “Quattro Mori”, participating in numerous offshore races both nationally and internationally and claiming multiple victories. I am convinced that the GSC, in addition to representing the opportunity to realize a personal project close to my heart, is also a unique chance to promote my wonderful land worldwide.”
Andrea’s passion for sailing is rooted in his childhood, nurtured by his father Sergio Mura, one of the founders of the Yacht Club Cagliari, who passed on the love for the sea. “In the ’70s, at the age of 6, I began sailing. My father introduced me to this sport that has become my life. I have participated in many races, but I certainly cannot forget the victories in the Ostar of 2013 and 2017.”
Mura began his journey in the world of sailing on dinghies, in double-handed classes. During the eight years he served in the Italian National Sailing Team, in the 420 and 470 categories, he participated in three attempts to qualify for the Olympic Games. His remarkable achievements earned him, aged just eighteen, the Silver Medal for athletic merit. Later, Mura moved on to sail on larger boats, from J24s to Maxi yachts.
In 1989, the career of the Italian sailor took a significant turn when Tommaso Chieffi invited him to join the crew of “Il Moro di Venezia”. As a mainsail trimmer, Mura and the crew led by Paul Cayard won the Louis Vuitton Cup and then participated in the 28th edition of the America’s Cup in 1992, which was won by America³. In the early 2000s, Andrea continued to sail, covering roles such as mainsail trimmer and tactical support in prestigious international regattas. He distinguished himself aboard “Bribón” with the crew of King Juan Carlos of Spain and “My Song” of Pierluigi Loro Piana, confirming his talent and versatility.
Despite his success in crewed racing, the call of solo sailing, a discipline practiced by few in Italy, was strong. In 2007, he purchased the Open 50 “Wind Express” from Pasquale De Gregorio, which had participated in the Vendée Globe 2000-2001, and launched the “Vento di Sardegna” project. His solo sailing career started successfully: in 2010, after winning three editions of the Roma x 2, he took part in the Route du Rhum, where he won first place in the Rhum class, becoming the first Italian to achieve such a feat. In 2012, his skills were further confirmed when he won the Two-Handed Transatlantic Race (or Twostar) from Plymouth to Newport, both in real-time and corrected IRC time, double-handed with Riccardo Apolloni. In 2013, Mura won the OSTAR for the first time in 17 days, 11 hours, and 12 minutes, and the following year he finished second in his category at the Route du Rhum. He then began preparing a campaign to participate in the 2016-17 Vendée Globe but, due to a lack of funds, the project was abandoned, and the IMOCA he was building was sold. In 2017, he had a sporting comeback, winning the OSTAR for the second time with a four-day lead over the second place.
A long career, but Andrea states, “Every individual is unique and has their own story. For me, facing this challenge is an important milestone. Thanks to my experience, I am able to combine the roles of skipper and designer and tester in my project. I prepared in a very short time because I have long desired to undertake such an endeavor. I believe that determination is the trait of my character that has allowed me to be resolute in pursuing this goal and will surely help me to successfully complete it. I would like to become the first sailor in the history of my region to circumnavigate the planet solo, to demonstrate that Sardinians are also sailros.” Finishing the GSC solo, without assistance and without stopping, would in any case make him only the fifth Italian to succeed in the feat after Simone Bianchetti, Pasquale De Gregorio, Alessandro Di Benedetto, and Giancarlo Pedote.
His boat, a faithful racing companion for fifteen years, represents the perfect combination for his GSC adventure. A reliable vessel, which the skipper knows in every detail, it provides a solid foundation and one of the strong points of his project. Vento di Sardegna is an Open 50 created in 2000 by the design of Felci Yacht Design, a studio founded by architect Umberto Felci, one of the most renowned sailing yacht designers, together with Engineer Lorenzo Giovannozzi, specialized in the design of structures and hydrodynamic appendages.
Andrea Mura and Umberto Felci, both born in 1964, crossed paths and met at various times in their life and sporting careers before Mura began sailing on a boat designed by the latter. Umberto Felci started sailing on Lake Garda, joining, like Mura had, the national youth 420 team in 1980. His curiosity led him beyond competitive sailing, to explore boat building with innovative materials like carbon fiber. At the Politecnico di Milano, he specialized in Architecture, focusing his studies on the physics of sailing and composite materials. His sporting results kept pace with theoretical study, and he participated in the 1989 Olympics in the 470 class. A few years later, he met Andrea again and together they shared the America’s Cup campaign aboard “Il Moro di Venezia”. After this experience, Felci began an independent career as a boat designer. In 1998, Felci met Lorenzo Giovannozzi and in 2001 they founded Felci Yachts Design together. Felci also shares his passion as a lecturer of yacht design at the Politecnico di Milano.
Lorenzo Giovannozzi, born in Milan in 1969, developed a deep interest in sailing and navigation from a young age. After high school, he enrolled at the University to study Aeronautical Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano, focusing on aero fluid dynamics and composite materials. He continued his sailing career alongside his studies. After graduating in 1994, he began collaborating with naval architecture studios, specializing in the design of structures and hydrodynamic appendages. This period laid the foundations for his career in nautical design. In 1998, after a specialization course in Yacht Design at the University of Florence, he met Felci and began their successful partnership. Now Giovannozzi is involved in nautical design in all its facets.
Mura was fascinated by the design and its lines from the purchase of Vento di Sardegna, but to keep it up-to-date and always seek better performance, he continued to update the equipment during various refits. “Over the years I have improved Vento di Sardegna with technical modifications thanks to a pool of sponsors and international technical partners. I have lightened and transformed the boat according to my needs to make it increasingly competitive. I have renewed the sails, which I made in my sail loft Andrea Mura Sail Design, with cutting-edge materials. Today, my Open 50’ is a fast and reliable boat that does not show signs of aging,” says Mura.
For the Global Solo Challenge, Vento di Sardegna has been equipped with the most sophisticated technological devices and prepared to be totally green and self-sufficient during the four months of navigation, theoretically foreseen. Fourteen custom solar panels have been mounted on the deck. Onboard there is also a wind generator and fuel cells that use methanol derived from grapes to produce electrical energy. “We are completely self-sufficient in energy management for long periods of time. The boat is capable of facing strong storms and is prepared to manage serious emergencies, even without external assistance. The refit work that I carried out before departure was a race against time that I managed to complete thanks to the shipyard in Porto Corallo that hosted and supported me in all phases of preparation and thanks to all the people who work there and who helped me.”
Indeed, preparations for the GSC began last August and, after three months, in record time, Andrea left Porto Corallo heading to A Coruña with a boat prepared and equipped with everything necessary to face this demanding journey.
The Italian skipper will literally sail into unknown seas: “I have already participated in solo transoceanic races but this is my first round-the-world trip; thus, there are many routes I have not yet traveled. The emotion is strong