All dreams have a price and some are more demanding than others. The price paid by Gaetano Mura to break the solo round-the -world record on his Class 40 Italia, has the bitter flavour of the surrender. Affected by too many damages (even structural, Italia needed to stop for more than just few hours. Gaetano and his team’s dreams were interrupted in Australia.
Was a different choice possible? On paper, maybe yes.
The World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC), the body authorized to confirm speed records of sailing boats, had given green light to Gaetano to go on attempting for the round-the-world record, with stops and outside assistance. So, it was theoretically possible for Italia to be repaired and sail off from Australia, where Mura took her ashore for the repairs after the impact with a floating object on December 9th and the satellite navigation system failure. A stop during which time would have passed anyway forcing the team to be quick.
But hurry would have been the enemy. With some structural parts seriously damaged, the hull delaminated, the auto pilot and the water maker damaged, the boat was forced to stop for more than just some hours. And Mura decided to defeat this enemy with a courageous choice: the surrender.
The only alternative was to push him to take sea on a boat that was not totally safe and properly working and take her in hard waters.
Italia, in fact, should have gone down the Indian Ocean, sail south of New Zealand, face the Southern Ocean going as low as 55 degrees South, round Cape Horn and finally cross the Atlantic in a season where the risk of tropical cyclones is very high. In a word, an extreme challenge in optimal conditions but a too risky one with a not totally safe boat.
Can you imagine how much strength it would take to say “stop”? Mura and his staff found it and they decided that the safety of both the sailor and his boat was the real value to defend.
This was the choice of a man, a sailor who honored his profession by giving a lesson of responsibility, self-respect and love for life.
Will Gaetano Mura resume his attempt in the future? We hope so. Meanwhile, his greatest challenge was to stop.