Riccardo Tosetto’s lifelong circumnavigation dream is in sight

Riccardo Tosetto – Obportus @Riccardo Tosetto

 

Riccardo Tosetto is less than a day of sailing away from making a lifelong dream come true. Just over 100 miles separate the young Italian skipper from completing his solo nonstop circumnavigation by the three great capes. After his compatriot Andrea Mura, Riccardo Tosetto will make sailing history by becoming the 6th ever Italian to achieve this incredible goal, joining the elite of less than 200 men and women who ever did so since 1969 whe Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to successfully complete the voyage.

Riccardo’s sailing life was shaped by meeting at the age of 13 a key person who became his mentor for many years to follow: Angelo Preden. They sailed all over the Mediterranean together and when Riccardo, 18 years ago, started working with his own boat as a professional charter skipper, Angelo kept mentoring him. They crossed the Atlantic twice together. Preden is a very well known sailor in Italy, with a life spent at sea. He notably participated in the 1976 OSTAR on his 9m boat “Caipirinha”, in what became the most famous of all editions of the single-handed transatlantic race which had reached its peak with 125 starters and the incredible participation of Alain Colas on his 236ft Club Mediterranée. Eric Tabarly was sailing on Pen Duick VI, the same 73ft ketch now being sailed by his daughter Marie.

Riccardo Tosetto – Obportus @Riccardo Tosetto

 

Every participant, including Riccardo, have their sailing heroes, in his case these are Francis Joyon, Thomas Coville and Alex Thomson. When he learnt on social media about the Global Solo Challenge he saw a window of opportunity to emulate them at a scale accessible to him and within the constraints of his financial possibilities. Riccardo admits that he probably would have not entered without the encouragement of his close friend Enrico Candeloro of Worldappeal who took care of gathering sponsors and dealt with all aspects of communications and even more importantly with the close support of his partner Valeria who gave him the determination he needed to focus on his preparation which he carried out with his close friend Filippo. During the event Andrea Giorgetti of Yachtprohub followed the entire circumnavigation as his shore based router. 

Born in 1985, Riccardo works as a charter skipper with his own boat, primarily in Greece, a venture he started 18 years ago, meaning his entire life has been close to the sea. His experience in boat maintenance and core seamanship really came through during the Global Solo Challenge. At the start he made it very clear that his goal was to finish without stopping. He knew that he would sacrifice some of his performance to ensure he would not miss his primary goal. He accepted from the start that this would affect his ranking but Riccardo paced his navigation with determination and resolve and he surely must be proud he will grab 4th place, considering more than half the fleet retired.  

Riccardo Tosetto – Obportus @globalsolochallenge

 

Like every skipper in the Global Solo Challenge he faced difficult times due to storms and equipment failures. His most difficult moments were the sea state and need to find his sea legs right at the start, in big waves by Finisterre, the storm he faced right before Cape Horn when he suffered a knock down, the storm by the Falklands when he saw hellish conditions and even the storm he faced a couple of days ago saw him battling winds gusting over 60 knots. 

Riccardo had to deal with various technical difficulties, with his autopilots and with his sails, he tore his staysail, his Code zero, his medium spinnaker and had to replace the top batten of his main sail. One of his hydrogenerators failed, leaking oil and then gripping. 

He also lost his windex, one of his wind sensors, his masthead VHF antenna, masthead lights and other issues testimony to the relentlessness of the challenge. 

Alessandro Tosetti, Francois Gouin, Cole Brauer, Ronnie Simpson, Archie Fairley (IACH), David Linger, Riccardo Tosetto, Juan Merediz, Kevin Le Poidevin @globalsolochallenge

 

Riccardo must be feeling tired, having had to deal with the recent storm and new autopilot problems which required him to dismantle one of the drives and services it’s brushes which had become stuck after such prolonged use. Luckily the operation was successful and he can finish the event without having to resort to steering by hand.

Riccardo Tosetto will tomorrow join compatriot Andrea Mura in completing their solo non stop circumnavigation. Four Italians before them have achieved the feat: Simone Bianchetti and Pasquale de Gregorio in the Vendée Globe 2001, followed by Alessandro di Benedetto (2010 6.5m boat record, 2013 Vendée Globe) and Giancarlo Pedote (2021 Vendée Globe). The Global Solo Challenge has again achieved its primary goal of opening the opportunity to attempt this incredible journey outside of the professional elite circuit of the Vendée Globe. 

All Italian sailors who circumnavigated the globe solo and non stop in a competition did so in the Vendée Globe, as until recently there were no alternatives. Budgets to launch a Vendée Globe campaign have skyrocketed in recent editions, especially after new rules banned older boats and the IMOCA class opened up to the introduction of foils adding considerably to the costs. An “adventure campaign” with the sole goal of participating and completing the course, such as those by Pasquale De Gregorio (sailing on a smaller Open 50 in 2000 to contain the campaign budget) and Alessandro Di Benedetto (sailing an an old fixed keel boat in 2012) would not even be a viable propositions today, this has left many with an unfulfilled dream and nowhere to turn to to make it come true. 

Riccardo Tosetto – Obportus @Riccardo Tosetto

 

In 2011/2012 I sailed around the world double handed with stopovers in the Global Ocean Race, however I did so as it was the only financially viable option for me. I would have preferred to sail solo and non stop, but my career had been in finance and not in sailing and there would have been no way for me to launch an IMOCA campaign. After my circumnavigation double handed with stops I was left with a bitter-sweet taste as my original dream was still lingering inside and all I could do was ignore it and move on with my life. 

That is until the world entered a very complicated phase with the Covid pandemic, my freelance work dried up progressively and was left with more time to think than ever. As I was following the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe I realised nothing could put to sleep that dream within me, and that probably many other sailors were feeling the same and had the same dream. That’s when I decided to create an event that would open up the opportunity to fulfill such a dream in the most inclusive way possible, allowing for a wide range of boats to enter and creating a format that would allow entries to participate even on tight budgets. When the Global Solo Challenge was launched my primary concern was to create an equitable playing field for all those entering within a solid safety framework, specifically not allowing budget constraints to be a factor that reduced safety. 

There have been other events in the past that took the shape of rallies without any formal rules but I think this inevitably reduces the overall safety framework as the temptation to cut down on safety equipment will always be lurking in the mind of a skipper wanting to take the start when running out of budget. We have seen it in the Global Solo Challenge that the risks taken by skippers are more than real, and how enforcement of more demanding rules such as watertight bulkheads, for example, were of paramount importance in William MacBrien’s collision with an identified object and subsequent rescue. 

Riccardo Tosetto – Obportus @Riccardo Tosetto

 

When budget is tight compromises must be made but we do not want these to be made in the space of safety, instead participants may have to choose a cheaper, perhaps older or smaller boat to participate leaving sufficient funds to comply with the same safety framework as the one defined by World Sailing. The pursuit format of the event then levels the difference between participating boats creating a reasonably fair playing field for all, regardless of boat and budget.

We are very happy to have created this event and very happy to see that it served its intended goal. Riccardo Tosetto will tomorrow be achieving a lifelong dream. We are very happy to have created the space for this to happen and very proud of Riccardo for having sailed so thoughtfully and brilliantly in the event. Riccardo’s arrival is expected tomorrow Saturday 30th at 8-9 am local time.

We will be streaming Riccardo’s arrival live on our social media channels:

https://www.facebook.com/globalsolochallenge/

https://www.instagram.com/globalsolochallenge/

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