Alessandro the Great

Sailing around the world in a modified 21-foot Mini Transat 6.5 to set a world record for the smallest boat to circumnavigate non-stop is one thing. Doing the part around Cape Horn with a jury-rigged mast is quite another. In recognition of these impressive feats, the Cruising Club of America is awarding its Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy to Franco-Italian solo sailor Alessandro di Benedetto in a
Author:
Updated:
Original:
aless_int1

Sailing around the world in a modified 21-foot Mini Transat 6.5 to set a world record for the smallest boat to circumnavigate non-stop is one thing. Doing the part around Cape Horn with a jury-rigged mast is quite another. In recognition of these impressive feats, the Cruising Club of America is awarding its Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy to Franco-Italian solo sailor Alessandro di Benedetto in a ceremony this month at the New York Yacht Club’s Manhattan headquarters.

Alessandro, who completed his voyage last July at Les Sables d’Olonne, France, spent nearly three months sailing Findomestic Banca under jury rig after being dismasted on March 30, 2010, in the Southern Ocean west of South America.

“I was already prepared in my mind to be dismasted five or six times on this voyage,” Alessandro said. “So I was ready to rebuild the mast and had the tools and parts I needed. I was disappointed, of course, but I was not injured, and I was ready to go to work and start sailing again.”

Prior to being dismasted, Findomestic was hitting top speeds in the teens and once touched 20 knots surfing in big waves. Under a jury mast just half as tall as the original, she couldn’t do much better than 7 knots, and normally averaged between 3 and 6. Not too fast for a Mini, but more than fast enough to get the job done. In all, it took just over 268 days for the little sloop to close the loop.

I first met Alessandro at the start of his ocean sailing career on a dock in the Canary Islands in 1992, as he and his father, Federico, were preparing to sail an open 20-foot Hobie catamaran called United States of the World across the Atlantic. Federico, a former Whitbread sailor, first got the idea for making such a voyage from French sailor Phillipe Poupon.

Though the two adventurers had to turn back to make repairs after their first attempt, they eventually reached the West Indies that same year via the Cape Verdes.

Since then, Alessandro has set two other officially recognized world records sailing on his own. In 2002 he became the first person to cross the Atlantic solo on a small open “sport” cat. Then in 2006 he duplicated the feat in the Pacific, making a 4,400-mile solo passage aboard a small catamaran from Japan to San Francisco.

You’d think by now Alessandro would be used to sailing around on small boats, but he said one of the hardest things about sailing Findomestic was coping with the boat’s tiny cabin. “There was no room to stand, and I had to do everything—eat, sleep, navigate, cook, change clothes, clean myself—in a space of just 1 1/2 square meters. Having a boat just one meter longer would have changed my life!”

Or how about something about 12 meters longer? It seems Alessandro’s next goal in life is to (at last!) find a much bigger ride. Currently he is seeking sponsors to help him acquire and equip an Open 60 for a Vende Globe campaign.

Related

pic00

Installing a Helm Pod

Our 1987 Pearson project boat came with an elderly but functioning Raymarine chartplotter, located belowdecks at the nav station. Since I usually sail solo or doublehanded, it was of little use down there—it needed to be near the helm. When I decided to update the plotter along ...read more

Panamerican

Pan American Game Success

Team USA’s young sailors went to the quadrennial Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru this summer with high hopes, and returned with a good haul of medals—two Golds, three Silvers, and two Bronze. Gold medals went to Ernesto Rodriguez and Hallie Schiffman (Mixed Snipe) and Riley ...read more

190916-AC75

U.S. Team Launches First America’s Cup Boat

Fast forward to around 2:25 to see the boat in action. First day out and already doing full-foiling gybes: not too shabby! Hard on the heels of the unveiling of New Zealand’s first AC75, the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic team has now launched its first America’s Cup ...read more

GGTobCaysHorseshoeColors

Picking a Charter Destination

Picking a destination should reflect the interests of your group, says People often ask about my favorite charter destination, and invariably, I sidestep the question with one of my own: “Well, what do you want to do on your vacation?” Most often I hear an incredulous, “Why, ...read more

sinking

Waterlines: Chasing Leaks on Boats

Chasing leaks on boats is a time-honored obsession. Rule number one in all galaxies of the nautical universe through all of nautical history has always been the same: keep the water on the outside. When water somehow finds its way inside and you don’t know where it’s coming ...read more

BestBoatNominees2020-Promo

Best Boats Nominees 2020

Bring on the monohulls! In a world increasingly given over to multihull sailing, SAIL magazine’s “Best Boats” class of 2020 brings with it a strong new group of keelboats, including everything from luxury cruisers nipping at the heels of their mega-yacht brethren to a number of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Relieve the load  One of the ancient arts of the sailor is setting up a “stopper” to relieve a loaded rope without letting anything go. The classic use for a stopper is to take the weight off the genoa ...read more

05

Ask Sail: Water Getting into Coax

Q: While inspecting behind the nav station for my spring cleaning, I discovered water behind my chartplotter and VHF radio stack. Freshwater to boot! Do electronics leak? I didn’t think so. — Everette Gracy, Norton Shores, MI Gordan West Replies  Last winter your region was ...read more