...many dream, few try to realise their dreams.... especially when they are no longer kids... you are still young, but old enough to be among those who put their dreams aside, you didn't, and the feelings you felt and are feeling now are the deserved reward, heartfelt congratulations!

(Message sent by Alessio Cannoni to Riccardo Tosetto upon his arrival in La Coruña)

Riccardo crossed the finish line in La Coruña on 30 March 2024, after 153 days at sea. He is the sixth Italian to have completed the solo round-the-world voyage non-stop.

To describe Riccardo Tosetto's great adventure at the Global Solo Challenge I want to start with the main motive, the realisation of a dream. Sailing around the world, passing the three mythical capes, Good Hope, Leeuwin, Horn solo and non-stop is a challenge that only a few daredevils have dared to try, and that less than 200 in history have managed to complete. Riccardo is the sixth Italian to succeed. But what motivates one to put oneself to the test in a challenge that is very trying both physically and psychologically and risky financially? Love for the sea? The challenge? The desire to emulate the great navigators?

Although I have known Riccardo for many years and have followed him from the very beginning of this incredible adventure, I do not have an answer, and perhaps Riccardo does not know exactly why either, but what he has done is certainly the crowning of a dream pursued for many years and which, thanks to Marco Nannini and his Global Solo Challengehe was able to realise.

Why does a sailor need an event to sail around the world? Isn't it enough to have a boat, a little time and a lot of good will? In theory yes, but in reality it is not easy to find the money and time that such a project requires. Participating in a regatta has many advantages, it sets a deadline, there are rules to respect which helps in the preparation of the boat, but above all it gives you the opportunity to present yourself in front of potential sponsors and let them know that your project can give your brand visibility.

Nannini, a great connoisseur of ocean sailing, realised that there was a gap that needed to be filled in order to bring non-professionals back to ocean racing. In recent decades, offshore sailing has become increasingly competitive, specialised, expensive and therefore ultimately elitist. To give an order of magnitude, the budget of a Vendèe Globe "low budget' can easily reach two million euros, even if you buy a third generation boat, reuse some sails and make many compromises to cut costs. Teams fighting to win have to find multi-million euro investments.
Sailors who dream of participating in the Vendée To get these figures they clearly need sponsors who believe in them. In front of a company, to have the credibility to run a campaign as complex as the IMOCAa skipper must have a respectable CV and palmares behind him, as well as an agency to take care of his image and make companies realise that the logo on the sail turns into real visibility. It follows that before presenting yourself to the Vendée Globe there is an apprenticeship to be made, which almost always begins with the Mini 6.50s and then moves on to the Class 40s. Only for a few at the end of this path do the doors to the 'elite' of ocean sailing open.

The road, as well as being long and clearly difficult, begins immediately uphill: the mini class, which was created precisely with the intention of giving young sailors the opportunity to enter the world of solo ocean racing at a reasonable cost, has over the years seen the level of preparation of the boats and sailors grow, but also the costs. So right from the start of their careers, athletes have to find a way to be attractive to sponsors, or find a patreon who believe in them and give them the opportunity to invest time and energy in proving that they have the numbers to qualify for the Class 40bigger and therefore more expensive boats. Soon the athlete finds himself needing to be supported by a shore teamto help him manage logistics, communication, boat preparation, etc., so that the athlete can stay focused on what he has to do at sea: race the boat and get good results.

Having said all this, it becomes easier to understand why I began by saying that Riccardo Tosetto was able to realise his dream thanks to the Global Solo Challenge. Riccardo is not a professional racer, he did not have a patron behind him interested in financing a solo round-the-world race. Without an event like the GSC could not have found sponsors interested in a world tour without media visibility. This is precisely why the Global Solo Challenge is a 'game changer'.
Riccardo bought a Class 40 with his savings, moved it from Saint Malo to Trieste, started preparing it for the round-the-world trip and in the meantime, thanks to Enrico Candeloro and his WorldAppealHe started looking for sponsorships that would enable him to find the money to complete the refit of the boat.

It was a gruelling 2 years, both physically and psychologically, every energy was absorbed by this project. Finding sponsors, working on Obportus, preparing the charter boat to do the summer season, transferring Obportus to La Coruña where he had to 'abandon' it all summer to do the season in Greece, wintering the charter boat, returning to La Coruña to complete the preparations for the round-the-world trip and....finally setting sail!
And setting sail is really the first big goal! It takes determination, a clear vision of what needs to be done and what can be done with the time and means available, making a thousand compromises, because time is short and the budget limited.

That is why I can say without fear of contradiction that Riccardo Tosetto has proved to be a great sailor. Managing the complexity of preparing a round-the-world voyage and completing it alone, without the help of a shore team of professionals, requires all-round knowledge and skills of preparation and management that only a true sailor possesses. Imagine what it is like to make important choices, about refitting the boat, sails, equipment, without having had the opportunity to sail in all conditions. Imagine what it is like to set sail from La Coruña with a storm and 40-50 knots on the nose, without having had a chance to test, as one would wish, what has been modified and implemented. Every choice becomes a leap into the void, if you make a mistake you carry it with you for the 27000 miles non-stop that await you, with no possibility of appeal.
True, compared to the old days, Riccardo had on board Starlinkwhich allowed him to receive some help from outside, I helped him with the weather management, but he did the rest and would certainly have done it without outside help.

In no way do I want to say that what Riccardo did is more difficult, that it is worth more or less than what the professionals do on their IMOCA. I just want to emphasise that the beauty of his endeavour lies in being low budget and that accomplishing it means having a lot of tenacity, experience and knowledge. In short, being a true sailor.

Richard and Obportus immortalised by the Cape Horn lighthouse keeper as they passed the Cape.

The sea is big, the ocean bigger, and it is good that there is room for all the dreamers who with tenacity and skill try to turn their dreams into reality.

Richard receives the International Association of Cape Hornersthus becoming one of the 195 people in the way and in history who have rounded Cape Horn in a non-stop round-the-world trip.

(The article was published in the online magazine Bolina2)