Better alone than in (good) company? From solo to crewed sailing

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Better alone than in (good) company? From solo to crewed sailing

17 May 2023

The calendar for the second season of the Class40 IBSA features just crewed regattas, a notable change from the participation in the 2022 Route du Rhum, whose regulations provided for solo sailors only.

There is no better or worse”, explained Alberto Bona. “It’s two different ways of sailing, and I am very happy that the various seasons of the IBSA programme provide for both. This way, one can become a complete sailor, acquire more experience and confidence, have the chance to give one’s best as an athlete and push the boat to the limit”.

Sailing solo imposes a certain type of rhythm: it is always necessary to be safe and to have rest breaks; therefore, the boat’s performance is never 100%. “This doesn’t mean that lone sailors go slow”, specified Bona, “but, rather, that the performance is never pushed to the extreme, because solo manoeuvers require more time and wider margins; they are slower and more weighted. Just think of changing a sail or gybing in very strong winds. Safety ensuring techniques are needed, and everything is prepared plenty in advance”.

A crew, instead, works differently: “The Class40 is designed for double handed sailing, although in some regattas our crew included – and will include – three or four of us. Looking at the most relevant competitions of the season from a sporting point of view – such as the Normandy Channel Race and the Transat Jacques Vabre – there will be two of us: me and Pablo Santurde del Arco. We have a very good chemistry, and Pablo is very experienced. I can say that we complement each other, we create a good team together”.

A crew of two means having time to rest and sharing the burden of the most demanding manoeuvers, such as changing sails; above all, it means having the lucidity and concentration to always push the boat to the limit, aiming for performance: “When there are two of you, you have more time for everything, and this means being able to do everything better, paying due attention to even the smallest detail, because you win a regatta when you manage, in all points of sailing, to always make the boat go faster than yours opponents. To do that, you have to look at every little detail. Last but not least, the discussion and the exchange of opinions: tactics and weather management are the basis of a good sailing, and analysing the situation as a team allows to evaluate and re-evaluate many elements”.

But what does Alberto Bona prefer? “I can make a general reasoning: what I like of solo regattas is that you need to have a strong determination, be ready for anything and find solutions. Of team racing I really like the preparation, the choice of the crew and the selection of the right people to work with. So, there are pluses in both conditions and one does not exclude the other. We ocean sailors try to get the best out of every situation”.

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