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Around the world in a sailboat: the story of Niccolò Banfi

At 23 years old, with courage to spare and a strong pull toward the ocean, Niccolò Banfi emerged from the latest edition of the Ocean Globe Race. Founded in 1973 and held every three years, this competition pits sailboats worldwide against each other in 9 or 10 extremely perilous stages.

Sailor Niccolò Banfi aboard the Translated 9

A 65-foot sailboat and a crew of 16 people were Italian sailor Niccolò Banfi’s companions for over 5 months, covering 27 thousand nautical miles (approximately 50,000 km).

The rules for the Ocean Globe Race stipulate that the crew must consist of 70% non-professionals.
After a lengthy selection process that saw over 1400 participants compete, they chose Niccolò Banfi. It’s no coincidence that this is one of the most adventurous challenges in the world.

Around the world in a sailboat: the story of Niccolò Banfi
Niccolò Banfi around the world in a sailboat

Vintage Around-the-World Journey, Without Technology

The intrepid adventurers navigate and maintain the correct course without GPS or advanced equipment. Just like ancient sailors who read the stars, use a sextant, and rely on triangulation points to avoid getting lost in the ocean’s vastness. It’s a harsh experience that demands a deep connection with nature, much like Niccolò’s. But the boy grew up on an iron barrel; his father, known as Baffo, is an experienced navigator, a pioneer of the competition, and has taught him the basics of navigation since he was very young.

 “I Would Like to Become a Professional Sailor”

Niccolò didn’t come out of the experience scared; quite the opposite. The challenge left its mark, and the 23-year-old realized he wanted to become a professional sailor. Not even the most dangerous pitfalls presented by the ocean were able to intimidate him.

Around the world in a sailboat: the story of Niccolò Banfi
Niccolò Banfi after the race: around the world in a sailboat

The young man recounts a night when he found himself at the helm at Cape Horn, near Chile. There was a storm with winds of 40-50 knots, and the waves reached 14 meters in height. The boat was uncontrollable; after a gust of 65 knots, the boat spun 180° and then tipped 90°, with the mast in the water. The entire crew found themselves at the mercy of the storm and the will of the waves, but fortunately, everything turned out for the best.

The Transatlantic 9, however, did not finish the race due to a breakdown; only misfortune could stop it. But the young sailor is still satisfied because he has realized that he wants to sail for the simple pleasure of it, like a sailor, like a fearless adventurer who is not afraid of fate.

Niccolò has recounted his experiences with emotion, from adventures near Cape Horn to the allure of albatrosses gliding without ever flapping their wings, to the beauty of high waves and strong winds in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These experiences have deeply marked Niccolò, who now looks to the future with renewed determination and an even stronger passion for sailing.

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