by Oliver Dewar
The happy news that the Global Ocean Race’s Italian-Slovak skipper, Marco Nannini, has got engaged to his 31-year-old Irish girlfriend, Ella Connolly, was swiftly followed by the confirmation of his co-skipper for Legs 4 and 5 as fellow Italian and former Mini 6.50 sailor, Sergio Frattaruolo.
Sergio Frattaruolo joins Marco Nannini for Global Ocean Race 2011-12 Legs 4 and 5
'The Global Ocean Race is a life changing experience,' says 33-year-old Nannini who is currently in second place overall with Class40 Financial Crisis. 'Ella and I have grown very close by living together through the challenges of this adventure and we have found out just how important we are for each other,' he continues. 'I’m really looking forward to all the future holds for us,' Nannini predicts.
While Nannini’s relationship with London-based Connolly will last a lifetime, his union on Class40 Financial Crisis with Frattaruolo will be short, but sweet. 'I’m very proud to be sailing with another Italian and to have an all-Italian team,' comments Nannini.
Although Frattaruolo has been involved with boats for around twenty years, it wasn’t until giving up a successful career in IT in 2008 that the Italian sailor from Bologna dedicated himself 100 per cent to offshore racing. 'I left my job and sold almost everything I owned, buying a van and a boat,' explains 43-year-old Frattaruolo. Since making this decisive and life-changing decision, the Italian sailor has logged an impressive 22,000 miles of sailing of which 15,000 have been completed single-handed.
Having turned his back on web technology, Frattaruolo quickly carved a niche as a charter skipper mixed with the preparation of racing boats, specialising in electronics, before attending the Mini 6.50 and Figaro training hub - Centre d'Entrainement Méditerranée La Grande Motte (CEM) - for two years focussing on a Mini campaign titled Bologna in Oceano – a project and concept that is vitally important to the Italian skipper.
In 2009, Frattaruolo’s Mini racing began in earnest competing in the GPI d’Italia (Genoa-Sardina-Genoa); the SMS; the Hexis Cup Double and taking second in the Hexus Cup Solo. The following year, he continued in the Mediterranean Mini circuit, returning to the GPI d’Italia and Hexis Cup and entering the 600nm Grande Motte and the 150nm Mini Golfe.
Most recently, in 2011, the Italian skipper took fourth place in the 540nm Camargue Race, competed in the Mini Max and raced in the 4,200-mile Mini Transat during which children from his neighbourhood in northern Italy’s landlocked city of Bologna followed him closely: 'This is definitely not an uptown neighbourhood,' confirms Frattaruolo. 'It’s very important for me personally and for sponsorship to try and encourage kids from downtown Bologna to find interests and fulfil their dreams.'
Frattaruolo has developed a good business coaching short-handed sailing and following the GOR, there are future plans in place: 'I want to race in the solo division of the 2013-14 GOR building up to competing in the 2016 Vendée Globe,' he explains. Frattaruolo also has plans for a large family and maintains that he wants at least ten children.
With a fortnight to the start of Leg 4 from Punta del Este, Uruguay, to Charleston, USA, Nannini and Frattaruolo are spending the majority of their time working on their first generation Akilaria Class40 Financial Crisis. 'We’ll do some test sailing off Punta if we have time,' says Nannini while taking a brief break from the job list, so the majority of Frattaruolo’s boat-familiarisation will take place on the race course.
'At the beginning we’ll take it relatively easy and, hopefully, the weather will allow this,' Nannini explains of the first stage of Leg 4 along the Brazilian coast towards Recife. 'We will initially have shorter watches which will enable us to run the manoeuvres together to build confidence between each other and for Sergio to get to know the boat,' he adds. 'Then we’ll increase the length of the watches and spend more time driving alone.'
Below is a video review of Leg 3 from Wellington, New Zealand, to Punta del Este, Uruguay, including outstanding Southern Ocean and Cape Horn footage.