31 October 2014 - 18:58 • 2315 views

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In two years from now, on 6th November 2016, the Italian, Andrea Mura will be setting out on his first Vendée Globe, aboard a VPLP/Verdier designed boat that is currently being built in an Italian yard. Due to be launched in June 2015, Mura will have enough time to get to know his 60-foot IMOCA. Before that, he will be setting sail in the Route du Rhum on Sunday aboard a monohull that is ten feet shorter, an Open 50 aboard which he is hoping to repeat his monohull success in the Rhum category.

Andrea, so it’s certain we’ll be seeing you at the the start of the next Vendée Globe?

Andrea Mura: “Yes, I’ve got my budget together and I’ll be there on the start line for the 2016-17 Vendée Globe. The construction of my boat, a VPLP/Verdier design, began a few weeks ago at the Persico yard in Bergamo (Northern Italy). This boatyard has a wealth of experience as they have built boats for the Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup. But this is the first time they have worked on a 60-foot IMOCA. I really wanted to have her built in my home country as this is a genuine Italian project. She is due to be launched in June 2015 and my home port is likely to be Cagliari, in Sardinia.”

How do you feel about moving up to the 60-foot class?

Fine. I currently sail aboard an Open 50, a 50-foot monohull launched back in 2000. Although the IMOCAs are only ten feet longer, they are much faster and technologically more complicated, which is great, as I love technology! I’m also used to sailing on maxi yachts. Alongside them, the IMOCAs can almost be seen as small boats (laughs)! There will be the time for me to get to know the boat before mastering her. But I’m going to have enough time to prepare calmly for the Vendée Globe. To learn all about the secrets of the IMOCA boats, I intend to compete in the 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre with a skipper, who already knows how to sail these boats.”

Andrea Mura, skipper de Vento di Sardegna© Pierpaolo FuscianiMy boat will be in the best of shape and will have foils

The IMOCA class has just confirmed foils are allowed. Do you intend to fit them to your new boat?

“Yes.  My boat will be in the best of shape and will have foils. It’s a logical step after the America’s Cup and I’m pleased that monohulls will be allowed to fit them. I haven’t really examined the question yet, as the technology concerning foils on the IMOCAs is still theoretical for the moment. But I am convinced that the performance gains will be huge. If they break, that’s a different story...”

The Vendée Globe will be your first round the world race with all the unknown elements that that entails…

“The Southern Ocean doesn’t scare me. I was born on the water and have been sailing all my life. Last year I won the OSTAR (Plymouth-Newport) in some very tricky weather conditions. For 17 days I faced a series of lows sailing upwind. I got there safe and sound and preserving my boat. After such an experience, I can tell myself that I’m ready for the Vendée Globe.”

What is your goal going to be in the race?

“I’m not setting out to have an adventure, but to race. I could never set off on an older IMOCA, like Alessandro di Benedetto did last time (with Team Plastique, launched back in 1998, editor’s note). I have a lot of respect for what Alessandro achieved, but it is very different for me. The standard is going to be very high in the next Vendée,with at least five other brand new boats sailed by great sailors (Morgan Lagravière’s Safran, Armel Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire,  Sébastien Josse’s Edmond de Rothschild, Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss and Jean-Pierre Dick’s Saint-Michel Virbac, editor’s note). It’s going to be a challenge and an honour to race against them. For the fist time an Italian is competing aboard a brand new boat, and is therefore capable of getting a good result.”

Will that be enough to excite the Italian public?

“The Italians will be watching closely if I’m up at the front. So it’s up to me to perform well. In my country the general public doesn’t know as much about ocean racing as the French public. In the Vendée Globe, the last skipper home gets the same support as the first to arrive. That’s fascinating.”

Interview with Olivier Bourbon / Mer & Média Agency