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Andrea Mura reclaims joy on the Global Solo Challenge podium

by Marco Nannini / Global Solo Challenge 19 Mar 19:42 GMT 17 March 2024
Andrea Mura, Daniela, Lucas, Marvel - Global Solo Challenge © Global Solo Challenge

It was Sunday 17th March at 13:44 UTC that Andrea Mura crossed the finish line of the Global Solo Challenge on Vento di Sardegna in A Coruña, 120 days and 44 minutes after he set off on November 18th last year. Waving an Italian flag and one of his home region of Sardinia, Andrea stood on the pulpit with pride, joy, elation. It was a personal victory, a moment of deep significance for the Italian skipper who accumulated a huge following in Italy and abroad.

Nearly 10 thousand people were watching the live stream of his arrival, from Italy, France, Spain, the United States, Canada and many other European and worldwide countries. The light southerly winds made the last few miles stress free giving Andrea an opportunity to breathe in the magnitude of his achievement.

Cole Brauer was on the water driving the Global Solo Challenge rib. We motored out to meet him at the Tower of Hercules and when he finally was close enough to speak with us his wife Daniela was the first to scream with joy. After 4 months, her husband and father of their 2 children Lucas and Marvel was finally home. Cole, who wore a cap and dark glasses was at times clearly quite emotional, witnessing what others must have felt the day of her arrival.

As Andrea crossed the finish line he lit 2 red hand flares, a moment every skipper awaits during their entire circumnavigation, the smoke, the bright light, even the smell of pyrotechnics seems to punctuate the end of the series of battles won along the route to complete the long adventure. Andrea hugged his wife Daniela, his number one fan and supporter who has tirelessly helped Andrea preparing for, and taking part in, the Global Solo Challenge, encouraging him to take the plunge in this project and standing by his side every mile of the way.

The local sailing schools tied all their dinghies in lines towing them with their ribs and escorted Vento di Sardegna toward the finish line hopefully inspiring the next generation of sailors, half a dozen other local boats had come out see the show and a group of fans was by the green lighthouse at the end of the breakwater waving flags and cheering Andrea and his epic achievement.

Andrea then held out his hand towards the rib and invited Cole to get on board, the two Global Solo Challenge skippers gave us another fantastic moment of sportsmanship and camaraderie, they had never met before but hugged and chatted as long time friends. Cole was holding back her tears, overwhelmed by the emotional moment. It was clear that sport, fair play and respect were all winners, something we would all like to see more of in any discipline.

Once Vento di Sardegna reached the pontoon the crowd of family, friends and fans gathered around Andrea, each trying to congratulate him. His two kids Lucas and Marvel finally could hug daddy again. Several bottles of Cava sparkling wine were shaken and the celebrations started in a jubilee of happiness, laughter, with cross fire of spray from the boat to the spectators.

After a quick interview and photos with the local press Andrea was ushered to an office where he could release a few interviews for the Italian TV and Press before joining the rest of the crowd to celebrate by the Global Solo Challenge tent.

Andrea described his circumnavigation as a medicine for his soul, he explained it was not at all easy for him, the years before this adventure had been tough on him personally and he shared some intimate details, which we won't discuss here, about his struggles to find enjoyment and happiness despite a wonderful wife and kids. Something that had made him resentful, even depressed, and he needed to find the cure.

It was his wife that encouraged him to enter the Global Solo Challenge. This was not quite the Vendée Globe campaign he saw slipping between his fingers back in 2016, but it was here, it was now, and it was possible on the boat he had with the budget he had. Everyone around him wanted to see Andrea smile again and a network of helpers formed around him in Sardinia. He was the most skeptical of all, but everyone worked tirelessly around the clock to see him off to the start line, with the available means and time.

The first few weeks were difficult for Andrea, mentally, his sleep disturbed by bad dreams, too many thoughts, sailing felt like a chore but his companion Vento di Sardegna kept gliding on the waves and sailing fast toward new horizons. The day passed and the Italian skipper almost sleep walked through the days in a daze.

Cape after cape the medicine he was taking started to heal his soul. He explained how everything he was giving in terms of energy and effort to push forward came back to him in the form of renewed energy, renewed hopes, renewed ideas and dreams for the future.

Arriving in A Coruna he confidently said he was fully healed, his soul had been relieved from the weight on his chest that he had been carrying for too many years. He was happy to be back and embrace his wife and children and was looking forward to spending time with them having found along the circumnavigation that radiant smile that we became familiar with, a smile full of joy and hope and desire to live life to the full.

Andrea Mura too, has written a page in the sailing history books, becoming the 5th Italian to ever sail solo nonstop around the world and by deciding to press on till the finish line we could paraphrase Bernard Moitessier in saying he found his lost happiness at sea and also perhaps saved his soul.

Andrea deserves our heartfelt congratulations for embarking on this inspiring journey that he shared with the public with his daily commentary, always ready to compliment and spend a positive word for others, congratulating those finishing ahead of him, offering to divert course to help Ronnie Simpson when he dismasted and generally showing his fair play, respect and sportsmanship. Grazie Andrea. A Si Biri!

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