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Beccaria and Andrieu on Alla Grande Pirelli Take First Place in Class40 in the Transat Jacques Vabre

23rd November 2023
Italian skipper Ambrogio Beccaria and French co-skipper Nicolas Andrieu sailing the all-Italian Musa 40 Alla Grande PIRELLI celebrate  Transat Jacques Vabre Class40 first place in Martinique
Italian skipper Ambrogio Beccaria and French co-skipper Nicolas Andrieu sailing the all-Italian Musa 40 Alla Grande PIRELLI celebrate Transat Jacques Vabre Class40 first place in Martinique Credit: Jean-Marie Liot

Italian skipper Ambrogio Beccaria and French co-skipper Nicolas Andrieu sailing the all-Italian Musa 40 Alla Grande PIRELLI took first place in the highly competitive Class40 race on the 16th Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre two-handed race when they crossed the finish line off Fort-de-France, Martinique in beautiful morning sunshine at 08:01:36 hrs local time (12:01:36 hrs UTC).

The elapsed time for the 4045-mile course is 18 days 12 hours 21 minutes and 55 seconds. In a record-sized fleet of 44 boats, which started from Le Havre on 29 October but paused in Lorient for seven days to sit out a huge storm on the Bay of Biscay, Beccaria and Andrieu were also first to complete the stage to Lorient.

Beccaria, who is an Italian-trained marine engineer and Andrieu, an aeronautical engineer who is director of R & D with Béyou Racing, have led for much of the race except for when a group broke to the north a week ago. But the Italian-French duo stuck to their guns and have prevailed. The second-placed Class40 boat was around 50 miles behind as Alla Grande PIRELLI was crossing the Bay of Fort de France heading for victory.

Beccaria’s biggest success to date in Class40 was finishing second behind Yoann Richomme on last year’s Route du Rhum, but this season he and Andrieu won the Normandy Channel Race, the Malouine Lamotte and he was second on the Défi Atlantique race from Guadeloupe to La Rochelle via the Azores, sailing with Alberto Riva and the co-designer of his boat Gianluca Guelfi.

He follows in the wake of legendary Italian ocean racer Giovanni Soldini who until now is the first and only Italian to win the 40 footer class on this race doing so on the 2007 edition with compatriot Pietro d’Ali into Salvador de Bahia Brazil.

From a non-sailing Milanese family, Beccaria really took to sailing on family holidays in Sardinia and really took to racing when he got a Laser 4000 for his 18th birthday, going on to become national champion. As a young trainee naval engineer he rescued and rebuilt a Pogo 2 which he raced the Mini Transat on before finishing third overall in the 2019 race in the whole fleet on a standard Pogo 3, winning both legs the production boat division.

When studying at La Spezia he met up with Guelfi and they became firm friends. When he decided to campaign in Class 40 he called on his friend and they built at Eduardo Bianchi’s new facility in Genoa.

Down to earth Beccaria, 32, is intent on demystifying and normalising solo and short hand ocean racing. He is renowned for a typical passion for risotto and carries a pressure cooker on Alla Grande Pirelli. When times get tough or an opportunity arises, he his well known for conjuring up his favourite dish.

Their race time was 18 days 12 hours 21 minutes 55 seconds. The duo sailed the theoretical 4045 miles between Le Havre and Fort-de-France at an average speed of 9.1 knots. Out on the water, they actually sailed 5381.51 miles averaging 12.11 knots.

First reactions from Ambrogio Beccaria and Nicolas Andrieu

Nicolas Andrieu: “It feels great, but above all there is a feeling of relief, as the competition was so intense with the boats close to us and those far away. That was a lot of pressure to bear for 17 days."

Beccaria: “Given the information we had about ten days ago, the southern option seemed the best bet, but we knew it wasn’t sewn up. There was some luck involved. Having chosen that option, the best thing for us was to aim to finish first in our group, and secondly do the best we could. Sometimes, it was hard to juggle with that. We felt like keeping our close rivals in check, but we told ourselves, there was a bigger picture."

Ambrogio Beccaria: “Even if we knew a few hours ago, we were set to win the race, you don’t want to say that. So, crossing the line is a weight off our shoulders. The time passes by quickly, as there is always something to do. At the finish we have an excellent knowledge of the boat. She is a good all-rounder. She doesn’t have any weak points and performs well whatever the conditions. It’s nice to have two good skippers, but a good boat is essential.”

“We got to know each other in this race. Nicolas is very sincere and remains relaxed even in the toughest moments. That gave me a lot of energy. It raised the standard and became a strength for us.”

“We got to know each other in this race. Nicolas is very sincere and remains relaxed even in the toughest moments. That gave me a lot of energy. It raised the standard and became a strength for us.”

“It was difficult in Italy for ocean racers to find sponsors in Italy, but they supported us and that was very important. In Italy, we don’t have the ocean, so we work in France. As there is a winner from Italy, I hope there will be people discovering that and competing in the future. When I was young, I didn’t know about this possibility. Maybe in the future, other sponsors will join in.”

Ireland's Class 40 entry in the race, Pamela Lee from Greystones Harbour sailing with Tiphaine Ragueneau is lying 29th in the 37-boat fleet still racing with 700 miles to sail to the Martinique line.

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