An exciting encounter mid-Atlantic for Gaetano Mura on board his Class4 Italia, sailing for an attempt to establish the new single-handed round-the-world record.
Shortly before sunset Gaetano spotted the silhouette of a sailing boat that later proved to be the IMOCA60 Finistère Mer Vent, skippered by French veteran Jean Le Cam, taking part to the legendary Vendée Globe.
Meeting the “king” Jean Le Cam
“It’s been a pretty tough night but exceptional at the same time. I was somehow sniffing it in the air and I was hoping for something like it when, just before sunset, a triangular shape materialized in the distance. I spotted it with my binoculars. It’s him! It’s Finistère Mer Vent, the Imoca 60 in ninth position at the Vendeè Globe. At the helm is the legend Jean Le Cam, aka Le Roi (the King) as he’s known on the sailing scene having won, among others, the Solitaire d Figaro three times. He is sailing his fourth Vendée Globe now. Among all the skippers I could have come across these days he’s the most charismatic of all.” Gaetano wrote in his blog from Italia.
“After so many lonely days out at sea, without seeing a single boat, spotting that shape on the horizon was very emotional. In this situation it is easier to see the wave created by the boat, its outline coming and going as it follows the ceaseless motion of the waves. For a second I was lost in fantasy, imagining different situations and getting back to the spirit of competition, asleep for too many days now.”
“It’s been a very special occasion, right in the middle of the South Atlantic, meeting such a sailing legend. We spoke on the radio. Jean told me that he was seeing Italia on his AIS, while I couldn’t because my mast and the antenna are much shorter. We talked about the weather and my challenge.”
“We will keep each other company tonight” he told me. As the wind dropped to almost nothing we battled for hours, trying to get that little puff of wind. The blackness of the night was only interrupted, at times, by our headlamps on the sails. Our routes diverged, in an attempt to follow the shifty air. Jean is going to sail past me, as I write, and I will take some pictures to send back home.”
“He was so close that we had the chance to talk and take photos of each other. He congratulated me because Italia is so good-looking. “C’est un beau bateau” he said. Fair winds and good luck Jean, I told him and he replied “Have a nice round-the-world sail!”
Italia is sailing at an average of 7 knots, slowed down by a high pressure ridge situated in the middle of the South Atlantic. According to the forecast of Gaetano’s shore crew, Italia could reach the Cape of Good Hope between December 1 and 2.