The Italian Almanac

Giovanni Soldini

Italian Sport - November 15

Italian skipper Giovanni Soldini's hopes of finally winning a major race with his state-of-the-art trimaran vanished on Monday when it capsized off the African coast one week into the Transat Jean Vabre race. Race officials said they had received a report from Soldini saying his TIM Progetto Italia had capsized due to an electronic failure in its autopilot system.

Neither Soldini nor his crewmate Vittorio Malingri were hurt in the incident which apparently took place in calm seas and variable but manageable winds. Soldini, an Around Alone winner, had put the boat on autopilot in order to trim his sails. However, the autopilot failed to adjust to a sudden puff of wind which first lifted the boat up on its side and then over before Soldini could get to the helm. The mishap took place some 400 miles off the coast of Senegal at around 05:15GMT. Officials said arrangements were being made to have Soldini's boat towed, implying that the Italian was out of the race.

Soldini won the Around Alone in a memorable race in 1999 which included his high seas rescue of French yachtswoman and rival Isabelle Authissier. Authissier and Soldini were on the third leg of the around the world solo race when her ship capsized in heavy weather and high seas in the southeast Pacific. Soldini, who was in the lead, turned back to rescue his rival. He later went on to win both that stage and the whole Around Alone event.

The popular Italian skipper was awarded France's prestigious Legion d'Honneur in 2002 for his act.