There I was earlier this week, feeling sorry for iconic Italian yachtsman Giovanni Soldini, after he announced his 11-year collaboration with the luxury car manufacturer Maserati had come to an end.
The unique partnership began in 2012 with Soldini turbo charging the Volvo Ocean Race yacht Ericsson 3 (fourth in the VOR 2008-09) with a longer keel fin, a lighter keel bulb, a metre-longer keel fin, and an additional two water ballast tanks in the aft corners.
After claiming a swathe of new ocean racing distance records for Italy over the next four years, in 2016 Soldini switched up to a MOD70 trimaran, Maserati Multi70, to which he added foils to set more records including in 2018 shaving five days off the Hong Kong to London route to finish in 36 days, 2 hours, 37 minutes and 2 seconds.
Sad then, I thought, that the charismatic and free spirited Soldini – whose ocean racing exploits have made him a household name in Italy – had lost such a loyal and supportive backer.
I should have known better, however. Later the same week I received news Soldini is to lead a new project backed by no other than, drum roll please, Ferrari.
Soldini will head up the Prancing Horse’s first venture into ocean racing as team principal. He will report to John Elkann – a regular aboard both Soldini’s Maserati yachts and the chairman of Stellantis (owner of Maserati) and CEO of Exor – which holds a controlling stake in Ferrari where Elkann is chairman.
Details are sketchy around the specifics of the project (and the video above tells us even less) but it is rumoured to involve a large open ocean foiling monohull. Whatever it turns out to be, it appears that – happily – Gio’s days of open ocean record setting are far from over.
“I am thrilled to start this new adventure with Ferrari,” he said. “We are working on an important and cutting-edge project with an amazing technological potential that brings together different worlds and skills of the highest level. Working with an exceptional team in the research and development of innovative solutions that are respectful of our environment is a truly unique experience.”