On a gray autumn afternoon in the bay of A Coruña, with light southwesterly winds, Andrea Mura departed on November 18th at 14:00 local time (13:00 UTC) for his Global Solo Challenge, joining the fleet of thirteen competitors already at sea. Vento di Sardegna, the Italian sailor’s Open 50’, swiftly cut through the water, proudly displaying the Italian flag and the Sardinian standard on its hull. Andrea, tired from the strenuous preparation of the preceding months but motivated, finally looked towards the horizon with calmness.
His family, his wife Daniela and his young children Lucas and Marvel, accompanied him to the starting line on the organization’s RIB. It was a moving and shared moment, and during his journey, they will continue to support him and give him the necessary strength, albeit from afar.
For Mura, who in his maritime career has spanned from Olympic campaigns to the America’s Cup, circumnavigating the world solo was a dream he no longer wanted to postpone. Now or never. The innovative format of the Global Solo Challenge immediately appealed to Andrea. He saw in this event the opportunity to realize a project he had attempted before but which had foundered in 2016, when, due to lack of funds, he lost the opportunity to participate in the Vendée Globe. “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. Andrea had purchased it as a training boat before transitioning to the IMOCA class. Nonetheless, over the years, Andrea has 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.
Interviewed by the organization before his departure, Andrea shared the numerous challenges he had to overcome during the preparations. On several occasions, he almost decided to abandon the 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, Andrea 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, Andrea 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.
On the day of departure, in addition to the wave of messages and enthusiasm that came from Italy, and especially from Sardinia, on the skipper’s and the event’s social media, a special person wanted to wish Andrea good wind: Pasquale de Gregorio.
In 2000, De Gregorio participated in the Vendée Globe in the Open 50’ category, aboard the same boat, which was then called Wind Express. From his retirement in Puglia, Pasquale shares his thoughts, immediately complimenting the successful formula of the GSC: “The GSC meets the interest of many amateur sailors and young people aspiring to participate in the Vendée Globe. 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.”
The sailor, now eighty years old, 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.”
A final message for Mura, who aspires to join the limited group of Italian sailors who have completed a solo, non-stop round-the-world trip: “I hope that Andrea will manage to find a good compromise between speed and the preservation of the boat and skipper. I wish him to have fun, to make it to the end, and if he also achieves a good result, it will be a great success.”
With Andrea 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? The chase has already begun. Dafydd Hughes and Philippe Delamare are already sailing in the Indian Ocean, navigating in the carousel of depressions. 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. Meanwhile, Kevin Le Poidevin, the Australian skipper of Roaring Forty, after resolving his back problems and the last-minute technical issues with his boat, is preparing to depart in the coming week.