The main sponsor Pirelli provided him with a tricolor risotto upon arrival. Ambrogio Beccaria appreciated. A bit because when you come from a battle like his, who dueled for second place to the last, you’re hungry. And also a bit because risotto is his favorite dish of his. As a diner and as a cook. Even on board. “If I tell the first 15 opponents that I had a pressure cooker on the boat they would laugh. But it’s definitely something that makes me feel good. Cooking pasta gives you energy and then it’s that Sunday effect that is needed in such a tough regatta”says Ambrogio, who comes from the school of Giovanni Soldini on the use of the pressure cooker on board, the greatest enthusiast of this propensity in regattas.
What follows is a choral chat. It gives an idea of who this young Milanese sailor is (someone wonders why indicate his origin: and why not? He even received the golden Ambrogino from his city…) who defeated everyone on the Route du Rhum in the Class 40 with his Alla Grande Pirelli, lining up those many French who look at the Italians – on the ocean – a bit haughty. But that they must be re-believed. Second after the sacred monster Yoann Richomme, who to tell the truth complimented Ambrogio.
“I had recently sailed alone only during the qualifying session (4 and a half days from Lisbon to Lorient) in which however the boat was not yet ‘mature’ and there were still many things to manage. Especially about handling the sails I wasn’t absolutely ready. Before between the lockdown and more, let’s get to two years ago. So, immediately after the start, I realized that I was maneuvering really, really badly, it took me a long time. Luckily, having been upwind for the first week, I was able to get carried away, to settle in and to find my rhythms and trust in what I was doing. I risked breaking several times… I don’t know how the big spinnaker is still there”.
The three key moments
“I would say the first departure. I didn’t cross the line very well, but I quickly regained the lead of the fleet. I would say the first 10 hours were very important. I was fit, maneuvered well and this helped me a lot because it gave me energy. This part here came out very well and I’m very happy, I knew I could do it well but still there was such competition that nothing was said…
Then, as the second key moment, I would say really decisive, that of the tack to go and look for the third front on the 5th day of the race. We took 4 fronts, the 3rd we went to look for before the Azores. It must be said that the 2nd was the one where we all broke and where I felt really vulnerable. It was a psychological test, because nobody wanted to go and get another… The 3rd front was more prone, so if you had been further north you would have taken it sooner. I talked to Bona a bit and he didn’t really want to go north either. So the moment we tacked to go get that wind was the highlight, and at the end the tacking order almost matches the final finishing order.
Finally, the third moment, I would say the competition of nerves and speed in the trade winds. Here it was very difficult because it was full of lumps that could overturn everything and increase or shorten distances really suddenly”.
The tour of the island of Guadeloupe, the duel for second place with Corentin Douguet. “It took me a long time to figure out which sail to put, and in the end the bigger one paid off. The difficult thing was just figuring out which sail to use, without tools: it changes a lot depending on the sail, even with little difference in wind. The last night there were really big lumps and I don’t know how spi managed to survive, there were some really impressive noises. I have to say that the boat really helped me…
Not having the tools, I could see that there were many lumps but I couldn’t really anticipate them. I had a choice there: reduce sail or jibe before Corentin. I had the biggest sail and would have reached the layline earlier. This move paid off quite a bit, but then arriving on the edge of the layline I went slower because the wind had picked up a lot and the boat was making some deadly surf, which broke in the wave afterwards. In that stretch between the humps he was faster and I tried to steer as much as possible.
Then arriving in Guadeloupe, the wind decreased and I minced it: I tied an average dry knot more than it, which is a lot. Corentin, who is an old fox, sent me text messages, saying that my sail was too big and that it was dangerous. He was trying to poison me… There are people who are specialists in this: they put seeds on your head that slowly grow… But I didn’t listen to him. Indeed, he gassed me, because I said to myself: look how he suffers this that I’m going twice as fast as him. He tried to slow me down, to distract me, but he gassed me even more ”.
The tools on tilt
Ambrogio lost the sensors on the masthead facing the 2nd front. “When I broke the tools, I thought racing was over, because I thought performance could really be put aside. I don’t know much about automatic pilots because I’ve only sailed on them double-handed, never solo. But they are tools that have very cool properties: you can give them the compass, but also a heeling limit or heeling fork. The boat went very well when you didn’t have to do the VMG, but instead when you had to go with that it was much, much more complicated”.
If I had the tools
“Would I have taken Richomme with the instruments not damaged? Well, he has the most impressive palmares in ocean sailing: in the space of 6/7 years he has won 2 Solitaire du Figaro and two Route du Rhum. The first week of his race should be framed both for the boat and for himself: the boat was very powerful, it was going very fast upwind: once he got into the trade winds Yoann had a huge advantage and was getting more and more windy. Then downwind I certainly went more, but in this regatta he was unreachable. Dalla di him also had the experience of having already done a Route du Rhum on a Class40 ”.
The boat and the optimization
“The boat is an airplane. With a wind of 15/20 knots it’s an airplane. Certainly on a reaching range she was the fastest in the fleet. And she didn’t do badly upwind either, with a target of 9.5 knots. We put her in the water without ever investing a minute of time into optimizing, we opted to make the boat as reliable as possible, and we did a lot of that, but we never invested a minute into optimizing the boat. That’s why I say that the boat can go much faster than that, and that I can go much faster than that on board… The level of untapped potential is enormous, especially on the sails… During the race I opened a word file on my computer and every day I wrote down the things I wanted to change. For example, I lacked comfort: the Class 40 is a much larger boat than the Mini, but much less comfortable, comfort will certainly need to be increased to save my energy as well. Just standing up was tiring…”.
The second place
“We even believed a little in this 2nd place… In truth, I set off hoping to win. Then I know well that it was a naive dream, but there were those small percentages of those who gave me that made me dream”.
Large, swollen, destroyed hands upon arrival. “The hands were actually fine up to 24 hours after arrival because I took care of them: I put on creams and gloves. The problem was the last 24 hours because we lived underwater, because we were either under a wave or in the rain, we were like in submarine mode”.
“Very difficult to give. The boat can definitely go faster. But I gave everything, more than that in terms of energy I can’t give, certainly in terms of performance we can do more. I gave everything, and in the end this was the thing that satisfies me the most: when you arrive and you’ve given everything, you’re really satisfied. It was a very mental race: I was fine, and I knew the others were having difficulties. What was good for me in this regatta was feeling good in the middle of the sea. Before leaving, my coach wrote to me: remember to have funthe”.
Alcohol on board
“Hand! Absolutely not, it kills you! I don’t have the physique to do these things, if I drink a beer on board I recover after a week”.
“I’ve never had anyone help me from this point of view, but I’ve always thought that mental is my strong point. For the management instead of the regatta I wouldn’t want some intruder in my head, while in the pre-start I would certainly need help to manage the stress. For this regatta my strong point was my mentality: despite the war I fought like a lion because I was able to do it and I was focused on the goal”.
Beccaria is the owner of the molds of Alla Grande Pirelli, built at the SanGiorgio Marine shipyard in Genoa by Edoardo Bianchi. “The boat was already admired even before sailing, and this obviously flattered me a lot. Now, with this result, there’s even more interest. Some French have also come forward… And Andrea Fornaro has already ordered boat 2, and this is a plus for me, also because having someone with the same boat to train with and compete with isn’t bad. It must also be said that mine is 1, 2, 3 are further developments. Looking back, it was still crazy. It was architect Gianluca Guelfi’s first boat, but we were crazy and sure we could make it”.
“The boat will stay in Guadeloupe until spring. We will do the Rorc Caribbean 600 in Antigua, a crewed regatta. And then, the Defi Atlantic: the return regatta to Europe, starting from Guadeloupe, calling at the Azores and arriving in La Rochelle. I would like to do it in doubles, I haven’t decided yet with whom, or rather, we won’t reveal it yet…”.
PS. Bogi, I would have a bombastic name to suggest and it would be nice to see you together. With the pressure cooker.