Open 60 skipper dies

Tragic news from Italy

Saturday June 28th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Italy
Italian singlehanded round the world racer Simone Bianchetti dropped dead suddenly last night in his hometown of Savona.

The 35 year old skipper who most recently took part in Around Alone is believed to have suffered from cardiac and respiratory arrest prior to his death. Over Friday/Saturday night Bianchetti was staying on the boat of some French friends in Savona harbour. At around 04.30 on Saturday morning, his wife Inbar noticed that he was extremely unwell and called an ambulance. By the time the ambulance arrived the Italian skipper had already passed away.

Bianchetti's body has been taken to his hometown of Cervia where a full autopsy is to be carried out tomorrow, prior to the funeral early next week.

Bianchetti most recently finished in third place overall in Around Alone. During this race his Open 60 Tiscali dismasted in the second leg, but those involved with the race in particular Bernard Stamm and Andrew Pindar, rallied round Stamm lending him his old spar and Pindar offering the Pindar motor vessel the Hatherleigh as transportation to get the mast from France to Spain.

The Italian skipper came into the public eye when he took part in the 1994 BOC Challenge (the forerunner to Around Alone) in an Open 50 named Town of Cervia, but was forced to retire early in the second leg. In 1995 he took on the Mini Transat finishing 10th overall and first Italian and in the following year came secnd in his class in the singlehanded transatlantic race from Plymouth to Newport.

Bianchetti continued his solo sailing career in the 2000/1 Vendée Globe, racing, the Philippe Briand-designed Open 60 on which Philippe Monnet had previously broken the eastabout singlehanded non-stop around the world record.

Aside from his ability as a solo sailor, Bianchetti was a talented poet and a book was published of his poems in both French and Italian.

He will be missed by the entire solo sailing community, who have lost one of their most colourful characters.

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