I have a dream: the Vendée Globe, a single-handed non-stop race around the world without assistance. But with a bar of chocolate always in my pocket!
Andrea Fantini is a yachtsman who can’t get enough of chocolate or adventures. He has the sea in his veins. A mind packed with culture, classical studies and a pharmacy degree, and a heart open to the sea. When he was a child he went sailing with his parents, read books about the solo yachtsmen of the famous Vendée Globe race. Andrea began sailing at 18 but the real challenge came when he was 23 with his first Atlantic crossing.
Since then he has never stopped. He has had great teachers, including Giovanni Soldini whom Andrea describes as an honest, pragmatic kind of guy who drives himself tirelessly and never gives up. Sailing with Giovanni was an unforgettable experience that he would repeat tomorrow.
For Andrea, sailing is a fantastic challenge - not with the sea because that contest would be lost before it began. It is a challenge within himself, his limits. It’s important to feel fear at sea, that's what makes you realize what your limits are and try to surpass them.
The Transat Jacques Vabre. An unexpected obstacle that made us think... why do we accept this?
"At the time you can’t believe it, it’s like... No, it’s not possible, it can’t be happening, not to us! Then frustration sets in, because you are forced to make a tough but inevitable decision, to retire from the race, and you feel like you’ve thrown away months - no, years - of working and struggling. The next stage is anger mixed with sadness, when you realize that whatever it was you hit was probably put there by people."
During the transatlantic "Transat Jacques Vabre” two-handed race in November 2017, Andrea Fantini and co-skipper Alberto Bona were forced to retire because they had hit an Unidentified Floating Object. A UFO, in other words, the kind that damages not only hulls but also our beautiful oceans. An unexpected setback that forced them to head for Portugal: because of damage to the helm, the two Italian yachtsmen had to withdraw.
"We were sailing well, the boat was stable and fast, morale was high, we were doing great, we were halfway through the race and up there with the group of leaders. Then we heard a loud thud and immediately knew that it was not one of the hundreds of noises the boat makes; this was different. We had a moment to figure out what happened, what to do and how to do it. The emotional part came later: first we had to focus on the maneuvers that would make the boat safe, stop the leak and try not to lose the helm. Then came the anger, lots of it, because even though you know that the sea is full of plastic, objects, trash of all kinds that we put there, when hitting something happens to you, you realize that talking about it, raising awareness and taking action is never enough. You ca not let your guard down because, like the waves, everything we do comes back to us. Maybe its destiny, fate, nature. But we pay for it and I do not understand how such a simple concept can not be understood."
Andrea has an amazing relationship with the sea, in which there is no defiance but instead, respect. When Andrea sees a dolphin or a whale, he gets as excited as a kid. To him the sea is something extraordinary, it is a privilege to be able to live it this way. Free, and surrounded by nature that should be unspoiled. So this run-in with the UFO prevented his crossing but it was also something else. A clash with reality that illustrates how some people are lacking respect for the sea. A sea that every day puts on a thrilling show for those who live it and those who sail it.
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