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Italy’s Ambrogio Beccaria (Alla Grande – Pirelli) wins The Transat CIC in Class40

Italy’s Ambrogio Beccaria, aboard his entirely Italian-designed and built Musa 40 Alla Grande Pirelli, clinched the prestigious Transat CIC Class 40 title. He crossed the finish line at 03:47:55 CET, which is 23:47:55 local time in New York, securing first place after a gripping duel of nerves and skill with France’s Ian Lipinski (Crédit Mutuel), a respected friend, rival, and former co-skipper. Beccaria completed the race in a time of 11 days, 16 hours, 17 minutes, and 55 seconds.

For the 32-year-old Milanese solo racer, this triumph in the iconic 3,900 nautical mile race across the North Atlantic from Lorient to New York marks his third major Transatlantic victory. It builds on his initial 2019 MiniTransat win and the previous year’s two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre victory with French co-skipper Nicolas Andrieu.

Speaking after the line he said, “It is not often you win two Transatlantic races in a row in six months and this is the first solo race that I have won on the boat, that is very, very important to me. And this is one of the best races I have ever done. A lot of the time it is about pain and suffering, this time I was very, very aware all the time of what I was doing and everything worked very, very well.”

In his first year racing the sleek and potent design by Gianluca Guelfi and Fabio D’Angeli, Ambrogio Beccaria secured second place in the 2022 Route du Rhum, narrowly missing first place to Yoann Richomme, who recently won the IMOCA class in this renowned race. The race originally began in 1960 as the Observer Singlehanded Transatlantic Race. Beccaria’s accomplishment adds to the Italian legacy in Class 40, following Giovanni Soldini’s remarkable victory in 2008.

Previously, Beccaria’s successes were often attributed to his boat’s superior performance and his strategic acumen, as seen in the latter part of last autumn’s Transat Jacques Vabre. There, he opted for the southern route approaching Martinique, securing a win. However, in this race’s “north face” route, Beccaria found a worthy competitor in Ian Lipinski, with whom he had won the 2022 Normandy Channel Race and finished third overall in the Les Sables Horta race on Lipinski’s boat.

Beccaria faced early setbacks with technical issues, initially placing him fourth, but he managed to move ahead after the first significant low-pressure system. When the winds calmed, Beccaria solidified a lead of 74 miles over Lipinski. Despite this, fluctuating winds and his unfamiliarity with the strong, unpredictable Gulf Stream currents saw him lose this advantage.

Some questions to Ambrogio Beccaria

An incredibly close race with lots of twists and turns, how do you feel to win?

It is not often you win two Transatlantic races in a row in six months and this is the first solo race that I have won on the boat, that is very, very important to me. And this is one of the best races I have ever done. A lot of the time it is about pain and suffering, this time I was very, very aware all the time of what I was doing and everything worked very, very well.

It was hard, the hardest race you have done?

There were some very hard moments, there were, but in the end I did not find it so hard overall. The conditions were pleasant in that we were prepared for the worst and to me the Route du Rhum was harder, there was more tough upwind. At the end the conditions were good, but there was a lot, a lot of intensity, the periods without wind were very, very stressful and it was cold, very cold at times.

Where did you get the edge because you needed to make a few comebacks?

I think I am really happy about my race because I really wanted to know the moments where I could push and I did that, attack. This time I really understood and made it work. The first time was south of Ireland when I was able to catch up with the leading group, that was really key. That was a present from the boat because it was pure speed. Then it was the rounding of the low pressure when I did a wonderful navigation I was really happy. I was using a lot of energy then but I knew it was a turning point of the race. And then it was important that when I lost all of my advantage to the others I managed to stay very calm and focused (NDLR he lost 70 miles in light winds and the Gulf Stream current) and I just stayed on it and not thinking about things I cannot manage.

And the winning move, that little gain that finally grew…

The final breakaway was when I played really near the centre of a secondary low pressure system that was created in a front and so I was able to get up my spinnaker while in the front, Ian was still in it and I was able to do some south and I had a better angle to go west, I crossed three miles in front of Ian, I think the boat has an edge reaching, the boat is quite exceptional.

You had some damage you said?

I ripped the masthead code zero, a very, very important sail, at the beginning of the race and that really affected me, this was a painful moment. Then I had to do a small repair on the bulkhead, it was very small and I think it was there before the start. So it was really not a big problem. But the most annoying thing is that I broke twice in the last 200 miles the system that gets the rudder down, I don’t know if I hit something but it happened twice, first time I broached and lost the gennaker, the second time was 20 miles from the end, so these were stressful moments. And last night I had lightning very, very close to the boat. It was quite scary.

Knowing Ian Lipinski (who is second) like you do, you had a lot of respect for him as an
adversary?

And Ian did such a wonderful race. I knew from the beginning he was one of the strongest in the race. He knows the boat so well, he knows well how to sail singlehanded and he has a lot, a lot of energy. And at the end it was good for Ian who is very, very fast in strong downwind, and also one of the key moments was when he broke one of his spinnakers (his A6 which he calls Pumba). He lost a lot with the loss of that spinnaker. I love to sail against him, he is attacking all the way.

What are you looking forwards to when you get in to New York?

I am looking for a harbour in New York, any harbour. But I am looking forwards to seeing people, I put a lot energy and effort into my races and I want to share with everyone, with other people. I love singlehanded racing but I love people also.

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