26 August 2015 - 15:22 • 2125 views

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When he launched a brand new VPLP-Verdier designed boat built at the Persico Marine yard in Italy in Lorient, Andrea Mura won another battle, but the war is not yet over. The Italian skipper still has to complete his budget in order to be able to line up at the start of the 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre and the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe. The hunt for sponsors is on.

Andrea Mura has rather mixed feelings at the moment. On the one hand, there is the delight at seeing his new generation IMOCA in the water in Lorient. On the other hand, there is the frustration of not having found the required budget to enable the Italian skipper to confirm he will be competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre and the Vendée Globe.

Mise à l'eau du bateau d'Andrea Mura à Lorient© Martina OrsiniLet’s begin with the good news. After coming out of the Persico yard in Bergamo in the North of Italy, Andrea Mura’s VPLP – Verdier designed boat was launched on 17th August in Lorient in Brittany. Vento di Sardegna is the fourth foiling IMOCA to be launched in 2015, after Morgan Lagravière’s Safran, Armel Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire and Sébastien Josse’s Edmond de Rothschild. “It all went well. Once the keel was in place, the boat successfully underwent the 180° righting test,” explained Andrea. “Then we stepped the mast and carried out the second righting test at 90°. All of that in just three days. Our little Franco-Italian team of eight did a remarkable job.” After a delivery trip carried out in extremely light winds, the 60-foot boat was moored up in her home port of La Trinité-sur-Mer. “There is still a lot of work to do to fine tune her and carry out all the checks, so we can really get out there sailing, which we expect to do later this week,” added Andrea Mura.

Charm offensive

While launching the boat is something of a victory, the Italian sailor still has a lot left to do. “The boat has been paid for, but now we need to find the funding to pay for the running costs,” he told us. “A top class IMOCA project costs a lot. Ideally, I’d like to find 400,000 euros this year and then 1.5 million for 2016. To start off with, I was supposed to get the backing of the Sardinian regional authority. But at a time when the economic crisis is being felt in Italy, it is hard to use public money for an ocean racing project. So I’m looking for private partners. My IMOCA is still called Vento di Sardegna, but her hull is bare. As soon as a partner joins us, his name will be given to the boat and we will decorate her in their colours.” With two months to go to the Transat Jacques Vabre, which is hotly contested with more than 20 boats signed up in the IMOCA category, Andrea Mura is still not yet able to confirm he will be taking part. Similarly, he has to wait before completing his registration for the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe, as he is still looking for partners.

A truly Italian project
Vento di Sardegna à Lorient© Martina OrsiniIf he makes it to the starting line in Les Sables d’Olonne on 6th November 2016, Mura will become the fifth Italian to compete in the Vendée Globe (after Vittorio Mallingri in 1992, Simone Bianchetti and Pasquale de Gregorio in 2000 and finally Alessandro di Benedetto in 2012), and the first to compete aboard a new boat. “This is also the first time that the Persico yard has built an IMOCA,” explained Andrea Mura.

“It was important for me to have a boat Made in Italy. We have the skills and technology required to make great ocean racing boats. My monohull is proof of that.” A born competitor, Andrea will be determined to be up there with the frontrunners in the next solo round the world race and hopes the Italian public and media will offer their precious support. “A lot of people have been following us in Italy since the start of the project and the media is interested,” he was pleased to announce. “The Vendée Globe still isn’t that well known in Italy. But if an Italian is there at the start with some clear goals, that will change. The dream must go on.”

Olivier Bourbon / Mer & Media agency