By Beppe Minello (from La Stampa of 11/19/2019 )
One hundred twenty-seven hours completely under sail. Over 850 miles devoured in less than a week with a force 8 sea most of the time at an average speed of over 7 knots. Ariel, the Hallberg Rassy 53 of the Parma skipper Paolo Casoni, and his crew of passionate amateurs – two ex-pilots, a financial consultant and a journalist – crossed the finish line in Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente in the Cape archipelago Green. The prohibitive, but performing, for those who love to “pull” even on a sailing boat, weather conditions have blown the forecasts of the organizers of Arc Plus (Canary-Cape Verde-St. Lucia) who hypothesized the arrival of the first boats at least 24 hours later. In the tiny and picturesque harbor of Mindelo, to say that there has been some chaos would be an understatement. That day, in fact,the Mini Transat was scheduled to depart from the island of Cape Verde while boarding a Hugo Boss freighter, the spectacular hull of Alex Thomson forced to return home sadly after losing its keel in the Atlantic. Ariel, for a long time ahead, nevertheless arrived in the leading group of her category. The complicated calculation of the compensations will tell the exact position.
A detail, that of the classification, which everyone seems to look at with sufficiency: the Arc is not a regatta to be conquered but to be experienced. And it would not be otherwise. Now in the Atlantic, between the Canaries and Cape Verde and from next week on the 2,800 miles that must be overcome to get to the Caribbean, there are (few) crews who believe they are Sydney-Hobart and others (most) who carry with them. even the children of a few months and who have chosen to tackle the unknown by relying on an organization that if it does not eliminate the risk represented by an Atlantic or Pacific crossing, but however smooths out many organizational corners, giving the participants the reassuring certainty that ‘is someone who follows you while you are in the middle of nowhere. In Mindelo, to stand out among the more than 90 boats from all over the world,there is Aluaka by Davide Zerbinati, a 42-year-old from Cremona, who arrived first of all, subject to compensation. The extraordinary thing is that his crew is made up of elderly parents: “I slept two hours a night – says Zerbinati – and I have always and only used white sails”, that is to say mainsail and Genoa.
The boats of the Arc will remain in Mindelo until Thursday 21 November when they will leave for the great jump of the Atlantic: a couple of weeks of Ocean before seeing the Caribbean. On board Ariel there will be the first changes among the crew members as will happen at the beginning of each leg – interspersed with more or less long rest periods – which from the Caribbean will lead to the Panama Canal, then to the Galapagos and, with a leap of 3,000 miles to the Marquesas Islands and then to Australia. The only permanent presence will be that of the skipper Paolo Casoni and, from the Caribbean, of his wife Cecilia. For the first, an enterprise within an enterprise: to make the profession of vascular surgeon coexist with that of the skipper.