65 days (and 6 hours and 38 minutes) after his departure in Gibraltar, last December 31st, Italia stops in Perth after having sailed half of the planned miles.
Five days of sailing “in obstinate and opposite direction“: from the Antartic cold to a northern summer in Australia which today reaches 38 degrees. A travel into the travel whose “missing” days I’ d rather tell you at longitude rather than in the decreasing latitude which marked the emotionally hardest days of my extraordinary experience – tells us a bitter Gaetano, who, on his Class40, has embarked in the “Solo Round the World Record”, a solo round-the-world race, with the aim to break the Chinese Guo Chuan, who set the new world record for sailing solo and non-stop around the globe in 137 days. But the Italian sailor is not beaten yet.
22 days ago, Italia had already impacted an unidentified floating item but, on that occasion, Gaetano was able to repair the boat and solve the rudder issues with his on-board equipment. Shortly afterwards, however, technical issues to the autopilot, the wind control unit and the satellite communication system arose and forced Gaetano to stop in Australia.
On the quays of Freemantle, Italia and Gaetano were welcomed by the Consul David Balloni, Scott Olney, Sailing Manager of Freemantle Sailing Club, and the race judge Raf Bellofiore, in addition to some Australian journalists and a small crowd of fans.
Gaetano showed himself physically and emotionally upset: “I’ve nothing to reproach myself with – said Gaetano – I know I’ve spent all my energies. Unfortunately, when a sailor compete with such complicated mechanical means, troubles are always around the corner and, when you get in an issue, you can’t do anything. It was very hard for me to accept to stop, it was the last thing I wanted to do. The five days I took to get Freemantle served to find the strength to face that. Of course, I’d rather come back in Cagliari with another result. Now, we have to check the boat’s conditions and only than we will understand if it can allow us to sail off again” .
The World Sailing Speed Record Council – the body authorized to confirm speed records of sailing crafts – has already been informed about Italia’s situation. According to the international regulation, it gave the green light for the registration of the sole round-the-world race even in case of assistance and stop, like in this case. However, the last decision rests with Gaetano and his team as well as the technicians who will repair and check the boat in order to allow her to sail out to sea again.
So, we await for further news to understand if and when Italia will be able to sail again.